“America First” Puts American Leadership Last

Last month, Donald Trump used an address to the Heritage Foundation to outline his foreign policy vision, which is a blend of trade protectionism and anti-interventionism. The presumptive nominee is not only breaking with the previous Republican administration of George W. Bush, but he is advocating a view of the world better suited for a position in the Obama administration.

Eliot Cohen writes in The New York Times that despite his criticism of the foreign policy of President Barack Obama, Donald Trump’s own vision of “America First” is not that different than the current commander-in-chief.

Fundamentally, much of the difference between Mr. Trump and Mr. Obama reflects style rather than substance. Mr. Obama came in scorning what he saw as the misguided “freedom agenda” of the Bush administration and determined to cut deals with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and, as we now know, with Iran under Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Mr. Trump merely takes these views some steps further and decibels louder,” he writes.

Either way, it is not good for America, Cohen asserts. Rather than America First, he contends Trump’s non-interventionist tendencies are American Leadership Last and that his vision is dangerous to US national security because “of its belligerent nationalism, self-absorption, disdain for allies and comfort with the authoritarian leaders of the day.”

Former George H.W. Bush Secretary of State James Baker also has spoken out against the Trump doctrine.

Cohen, who has been active in Republican foreign policy circles for decades, says his eyes are cast beyond November when voters have their voices heard. His goal and task is to communicate to the American people the value and necessity of American leadership.

“There is a wide gulf between those who have thought hard about and worked on the challenge of American global leadership and those who assure the American people that foreign policy can be reduced to ‘don’t do stupid stuff.’ Today, the Trump and Obama versions of that sentiment are ascendant. It is the task of those of us in the foreign policy field, Republican and Democrat alike, to make the case that they are profoundly, dangerously wrong,” he concludes.

Cohen, Baker and their allies have their work cut out for them as recent Pew poll finds that a majority of Americans believe more attention should be given to domestic affairs and less to policing the world.

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