Unfortunately, the Muslim Ban fiasco has overshadowed a truly dangerous policy direction Donald Trump has taken. Some of my political friends in the Foreign Policy Community who are still working in the Foreign Policy organs of the USA think that is by design.
They have a deep fear of the direction President Trump is taking. Their fear is his populism and stated foreign policy direction will give rise to tyrants, create a loss of jobs in America because of trade wars breaking out, and will raise the threat of global conflict and war. They also see his actions enabling Vladimir Putin to re-establish the Soviet Empire which America and our NATO allies destroyed.
There is something called American Exceptionalism that has driven American foreign and trade policy in the post-World War II years. It is actually three ideas put together in one theory that first emerged out of the American Revolution, and the belief America is the “first new nation.”
The first idea is that America is based on personal freedom, egalitarianism, democracy, republicanism, laissez-faire economics, and individualism. The second idea is that because we embody the ideas above in the first concept that we have a superior place among nations. The third component of American Exceptionalism is that the USA has a responsibility to that is unique to us and those we recruit to our cause to transform the world.
It is not just a Republican ideal. In John Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, the young President addressed American Exceptionalism. In his speech he said,
“Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe Alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans-born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage-and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
While we have differences as Americans as to how much laissez-faire economics to have, and the left tries to downplay individualism, there has been widespread acceptance of varying degrees of American Exceptionalism throughout our history. President Kennedy’s grand words are as good of a summary of the spirit of American Exceptionalism as exists anywhere.
Imagine trying to be an American ally right now? There were reports in the autumn that Mr. Trump sent emissaries to the foreign embassies in Washington to ease their fears. The reports said that the Trump team was assuring Ambassadors that what they are saying in public is not how they intend to govern.
It now appears that is another of the long string of Trump lies because the xenophobia, protectionism, and threats of pulling the rug on allies are how they are governing.
Critics of Mr. Trump have called Mr. Trump’s basic stump speech also his Inaugural Address. They viewed it as more campaigning for an election that has been decided.
To call it a stump speech is to ignore the dire warnings we should be hearing in his words. Warnings of an intent to destroy American Exceptionalism, as the ultra-left has wanted to do for decades. How Trump managed to make the GOP into another party of leftist thought is a topic for another day, but he has done exactly that. The smiling faces of the AFL-CIO as they left the White House should have been a clue.
With America First, President Trump is trying to do something we are taught in Business School, and that is to make everything a zero-sum game. In Trump’s speech, he falsely states,
“For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the arms of other countries while depleting our own.”
Can he really believe this? Take a look at American Industry and how they have flourished in the past 70 years. And as far as that depleting our own forces in favor of foreign armies, that is just a pure lie. We have the best equipped, most advanced armed services on the planet. Moreover, via our military alliances with NATO, American arms are the standard for foreign armies throughout the World. Everybody wants to buy American military hardware because it is the best.
The same is true in other sectors as well. The world is a competitive place, and American industry competes and competes well. America First makes American firms less competitive and will have the effect of higher unemployment, job loss and higher prices for American consumers. It is simply stupid, and appeals only to those who have little understanding of economics or markets.
I know it is hard if you have been displaced by automation, the real culprit in loss of American jobs, rather than Mexico. It is also difficult if you are in the American Midwest where individual state’s economic policies are anti-business and industry is leaving. There is nothing Washington can do about that. Trump with America First is giving displaced workers, and the under-employed false hopes.
Our wealth has not been ripped from the homes and redistributed all across the world as Mr. Trump stated in his address. In fact, the world’s wealth has been redistributed in America from the rest of the world because of the policies of the past 70 years.
Trade is not a zero-sum game. Trade is dynamic and those at the top of the food chain, the US and other industrialized nations, must depend on innovation and not protectionism to stay at the top of the food chain.
I used to think Mr. Trump knew this because he had attended Business School. It appears to me now the lessons taught in macro and microeconomics must have gone over his head.
When we look at our two MBA Presidents, George W. Bush and now Donald Trump, maybe a case can be made to not have another Business Person/President? The tools we learn in Business School are wonderful for running a company. They are useless to counterproductive for use in running a nation.
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