Trump and his supporters oppose world trade and a strong, internationalist foreign policy. In today’s world, that’s dangerous.
Now that one of the last presidential debates has ended we are left with a stark and revealing contrast on foreign affairs. Both candidates have advanced their arguments for their respective foreign policy platforms, but only one has presented a cohesive and responsible foreign policy. It is now readily apparent who stands for moving this country forward and who wants to withdraw, and to retreat. In one candidate, we have an agitator and a failed reality television star; the other, a seasoned leader and an accomplished diplomat in her own right. Nolo contredre.
Trump, well, trumpets an un-American strain of economic nationalism: undesirables must be kept out in order to keep us great. Tell that to the millions whose descendants passed through Ellis Island.
These views are unabashed in their absurdity; some might say intentionally so. This speaks to a populist appeal.
But he is wrong as he is in all things, as are his sycophants. Trump would have us believe withdrawing from the global stage, failing to uphold the international order, systematically dismantling the global trading framework, suppressing open economies, and converting alliances to business deals would all “make America great.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. We must keep America open.
The Economist covered an alarming uptick of isolationist sentiment, and it is as accurate as it is profound:
ASKED about the biggest risks facing the financial markets, more than half of fund managers polled by Bank of America Merrill Lynch this month cited geopolitics and protectionism. And that seems hardly surprising, given the Brexit vote, the failed Turkish coup and the nomination of Donald Trump as the Republican presidential candidate. Those who operate in the financial markets instinctively favour the free flow of goods, people and, of course, capital. And things have gone their way since the Thatcher/Reagan policy revolution of the early 1980s and the opening up of China, India and eastern Europe to global markets.
The first great era of globalisation in the 19th century saw the share of trade in global GDP rise eightfold between 1820 and 1913. The emergence of the railway and steamship allowed bulky products to be sent speedily across borders. British freight rates fell by 70% between 1840 and 1890. No longer did international trade have to focus on high value goods like silks and spices. Capital also flowed across borders with British savers helping to finance railway construction in Latin America and elsewhere. Mass migration was another phenomenon of the late 19th and early 20th centuries; Europeans emigrated at a rate of 300,000 a year in the first three decades after 1846, and over 1m a year between 1900 and 1914.
Donald Trump stands for closed borders, a dangerous reduction in intelligence capabilities, no trade, and a restrained, limited foreign policy predicated on concessions, weakness, and deals. He and his followers also stand staunchly in favor of rapprochement with Russia and off-shore balancing throughout the global commons.
His opponent instead has presented a responsible policy platform replete with solutions, not impediments. Among these positions are secure borders aided by an intelligence surge to identify threats before they strike; world trade; and a strong and internationalist foreign policy, predicated on the belief alliances and the furtherance of a unified league of nations will prevail. America is already great; and it is time we demonstrate that.
As military scholar Max Boot reminded over a decade prior, interventionism is not the exclusive redoubt of the Republican party and was a bedrock foreign policy platform of Democrats since the dawn of the Republic:
The original neocons were a band of liberal intellectuals who rebelled against the Democratic Party's leftward drift on defense issues in the 1970s. At first the neocons clustered around Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson, a Democrat, but then they aligned themselves with Ronald Reagan and the Republicans, who promised to confront Soviet expansionism. The neocons, in the famous formulation of one of their leaders, Irving Kristol, were "liberals mugged by reality."
The application of military force to achieve a political endstate, as one could reasonably expect in Syria, remains appropriate. It is Donald Trump’s virulent strain of white nationalism blended with 19th century populism that is abhorrent, racist, and categorically wrong. His policies would cause immeasurable and lasting damage to American national security, and cede American leadership just as we are within reach of a new American century.
Do vote wisely this November, regardless of party. There is no need to make America great once more when one can simply act to keep America open. We must not let those who would partner with adversaries like Vladimir Putin set us back. We must instead move forwards, unified, for we are stronger together than we are apart.
The above, adapted from Fortune Favors The Bold: Principled Leadership In A New American Century, has been separated from the deliverable with the express permission of the client.