The list of countries at odds with the Trump administration seems to grow by the minute, more recently ranging from Mexico's escalating tensions regarding the wall and now with Trump's threat of sending in troops, and his contentious call with Australia over the handling of refugees. Entire countries are now lining up just to troll Trump over his approach to foreign policy. And the administration continues to march forward under the mantra "America First."
Initially, the tagline sounds reasonable enough. Even on the web site of the White House, the "America First" approach is described where "in pursuing a foreign policy based on American interests, we will embrace diplomacy. The world must know that we do not go abroad in search of enemies, that we are always happy when old enemies become friends, and when old friends become allies...The world will be more peaceful and more prosperous with a stronger and more respected America." Americans should expect to see an elected government protecting its people.
But arguably, in execution, the "America First" approach is quickly evolving into "America Only."
It's easy to overlook the implications in the tagline. The trolling videos from Europe make it more apparent:
At its core, foreign policy is about building relationships with foreign countries. That is not to say the relationship is always a harmonious one; at times a hard line might be needed to enforce sanctions or other precautionary measures when necessary. But even for allied countries, an "America First" approach can be misconstrued. If a relationship gives a numerical value to those involved, it becomes questionable if it is a relationship at all. For any positive, functioning relationship, one never says "I'm first, you're second." Relationships should mutually benefit both parties involved.
Unfortunately, the Trump administration does not appear to factor in building relationships. If anything, the approach suggests more of a business mindset than a diplomatic one; a natural alignment considering Trump's background. While many consider his business instincts to be his strength, it clearly breaks down when applying it toward foreign policy. These are not companies vying against other companies to maximize profits. These are countries that are supposed to help each other, and to have a positive influence on each other.
That lack of reciprocation may be the most troubling part of Trump's foreign policy, if the recent travel ban is any indication. Many times, like the case for Syria, refugees are traveling for the purpose of escaping oppressive regimes held by dictators ruling over their home countries. And what might happen if American leadership begins to exhibit the same oppressive measures these refugees are fleeing from? For that matter, what might happen to Americans under this kind of rule?