I’m generally not a fan of “must read”-style articles. I generally prefer original analysis. So why am I writing one? “Trump’s ‘America First’ means Americans lose”, posted Thursday afternoon by the Washington Post, is the best op-ed I have read in a long time. It doesn’t need my original analysis. It goes beyond whatever dumb thing Trump said or did today. Instead it does a macro-level analysis to show how Trump is endangering the United States in ways that we may not be able to recover from. I’ll borrow three paragraphs to give you a flavor but please do go read it in its entirety.
No, Mr. Trump’s strategic blindness runs far deeper than just misreading this alliance. He is also undermining the basic understanding that has worked to the United States’ advantage since World War II under presidents both Republican and Democratic.
Those leaders all accepted that, with less than 5 percent of global population but more than 20 percent of the global economy, the United States, more than any other nation, depends on and benefits from predictable rules. It needs a world where business executives can go forth and come home without fear of kidnapping, where ships can ply the oceans without armed escorts, where contracts are honored and disputes fairly adjudicated. It needs a world where journalists can report and inform Americans on the true conditions on the ground.
Previous presidents understood that the way to achieve such a world was to enlist allies who would live by the United States’ rules in return for protection — safe in knowledge that the United States would not use its preeminence to squeeze them for every last dollar. They would go along because the United States stood not just for itself but for rules that benefited everyone and for values they cherished, as well: freedom, human dignity, the rule of law. By championing good — albeit imperfectly and inconsistently — the United States did well.