Donald Trump Channels The 1930s in Foreign Policy Address
In a long, but not very detailed, speech, GOP presidential frontrunner laid out his foreign policy vision. It was not the elucidation of a guiding doctrine but a call to arms and a return to a protectionist view of the U.S. role in the world.
“My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people, and American security, above all else. That will be the foundation of every decision that I will make. America First will be the major and overriding theme of my administration,” he told the audience.
He continued: ““We will no longer surrender this country, or its people, to the false song of globalism. The nation-state remains the true foundation for happiness and harmony. I am skeptical of international unions that tie us up and bring America down, and will never enter America into any agreement that reduces our ability to control our own affairs.”
Trump’s speech showed he concurs with the isolationists on this and wants to revert back to an age where the United States does much, much less in the world than it does now. He opposes democracy promotion, multilateralism, security guarantees, and, implicitly, keeping the global commons open for use by all nations.
That skepticism and isolationist bent echoes the past, particularly the doctrine promoted by the isolationists of the 1930s. It also echoes declared-Socialist Bernie Sanders, writes Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post.
“This is also the theme of Bernie Sanders. No great surprise. Left and right isolationism have found common cause since the 1930s. Socialist Party leader Norman Thomas often shared the platform with Charles Lindbergh at America First rallies,” asserts Krauthammer.
The similarity of Trump’s views with those on the political left also was noticed by George Friedman in Geopolitical Futures.
“This is generally a critique of capitalism from the far left. Undoubtedly, he means something different than they do, but in some sense it tends toward that position. First, he opposes international accords that limit U.S. freedom of action. By that I assume he means the World Trade Organization and other multilateral trade organizations and agreements that limit U.S. options. These are also opposed by the left, but on the assumption that they benefit the U.S. excessively. Either way, they come out at the same point,” he writes.
The concerns expressed by the prospect of a resurgent isolationism, ironically, was shared by leaders abroad, who are facing their own problems with nativist movements within their borders.
“The world’s security architecture has changed and it is no longer based on two pillars alone. It cannot be conducted unilaterally,” he said of foreign policy in a post-Cold War world. “No American president can get round this change in the international security architecture…. ‘America first’ is actually no answer to that,” said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.