President Trump will take the opportunity to use his first trip abroad as president to talk up his foreign policy ideas, which he describes as an “America First” strategy.
Starting in Saudi Arabia later this month, the president will make stops in Brussels, the Vatican and Israel as part of routine visits with foreign leaders and heads of state.
“America First is fully compatible with American leadership in the world,” an anonymous senior official told Reuters, describing the message Trump wishes to send during his visits.
To date, however, Trump’s foreign policies have been anything but “America First.” To all but the most ardent Trump supporters, the president’s first months in office have been a continuation of every disastrous foreign policy established by his two predecessors, policies which do not put “America First.” Now Trump will tour the world telling foreign leaders how much those policies will benefit them and their countries; the irony is hard to ignore.
Where Obama practiced a policy of “strategic patience” with the North Koreans, the Trump team almost immediately stepped in to drastically ramp up tensions with the scrappy Asian regime, risking conflict, or, in the worst case scenario, perhaps even nuclear war.
In Yemen, Trump has continued to back a Saudi-led coalition in an indiscriminate bombing campaign that has killed thousands of non-combatants and thrown the country, already the poorest in the Arab world, into a severe humanitarian crisis. Where, exactly, is the American interest in starving children to death halfway across the planet?
During the race, candidate Trump preached non-intervention, or at least non-regime change, regarding Syria, a position directly at odds with that of candidate Clinton, who urged for no fly-zones and definitively anti-Assad policies. After just a few weeks in office, however, the Trump administration launched a retaliatory missile strike against the Assad regime in response to an alleged (not at all proven) chemical weapons attack on rebel-held areas of Idlib Province.
One glimmer of hope for non-interventionists before the election was Trump’s position on America’s relationship with Russia. While Clinton maintained that Putin was akin to a Russian Hitler, Trump held forth in his desire for detente with our nuclear-armed rival, a position unpopular in Washington’s halls of power, to say the least. That speck of light may have finally been snuffed out with Trump’s missile strike on the Syrian airbase in early April, a major blow to the U.S.-Russian relationship, Russia being the top supporter of the Syrian government in its ongoing civil war.
Yet another of his “America Second” policies includes continued massive aid to the Israeli government, vastly more than any other recipient of American largess. As professors Stephen M. Walt and John Mearsheimer demonstrate in their definitive treatment of the U.S. Israel lobby, Israel neither needs nor deserves such aid.
With a struggling American economy and a combined total gross national debt approaching $20 trillion (nearly 104 percent of the previous 12 months of GDP), the American government is in no position to give billions in hand-outs to first world countries. This is especially the case for Israel, whose long-standing policies of occupation and dispossession of Palestinians supply terrorists the world around with recruitment material and a rationale to attack the United States, whose aid makes such policies possible in the first place.
What, then, would an “America First” strategy actually look like? Chas Freeman, in an article at the American Conservative, at least begins to answer that question:
“Americans have arrived at a moment in which the Middle East they have long imagined no longer exists and the actions they are taking no longer yield the intended results. A fundamental reexamination of the premises and purposes of U.S. policies in the region is in order. The complexities of such a review would be formidable.
But policies based on past rather than current realities will only get the countries of the Middle East and the United States into even more trouble than they are already in. American policies in the Middle East, as elsewhere, must spring from unflinching analysis of the current situation, be disciplined by a clear-eyed view of American interests, and put those interests—not those of others—first.”
Such a vital reevaluation of American foreign policy, unfortunately, does not appear to be on the table. It’s not clear where genuine American interests land in the administration’s ranking, but they certainly aren’t coming first.
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Contributed by Will Porter of The Daily Sheeple.