US Secretary of State John Kerry has brought to light the concerns of foreign leaders over the current state of US politics. During an interview on CBS’ “Meet the Press,” Secretary Kerry commented on his experience with foreign leaders who are both “shocked” by the controversial rhetoric of the 2016 Presidential campaign and struggling to understand how the United States will engage the world under the next President. To truly understand shifts in US politics, one must understand the failures of US policies and the many differences among Americans who hope to change their government for the better.
Where numerous conversations are needed to explain why Americans think some policies are good and others are bad, which the Washington Outsider has done through this blog, the NCTV45 companion show, and the CDN companion column focusing on national issues, the views of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump on foreign policy help explain why Americans, as well as non-Americans, are rebelling against traditional foreign policy thinking. Trump is beloved by many and absolutely detested by others, yet he outspoken nature is helping force uncomfortable issues to the light of the day, which means he is creating an opportunity to resolve these issues.
Donald Trump is clearly not an expert on foreign policy, but he is a businessman who seeks to gather expertise and facilitate the resolution of persistent problems. In short, he is a facilitator of problem-solvers and solution-builders. Responding to Donald Trump’s speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the New York Times missed this pivotal aspect of Mr. Trump’s thinking when they reported on his “America First” foreign policy stance. Instead writers’ David E. Sanger and Maggie Haberman structured their article in way framed that Mr. Trump in terms of an “internationalist” and an “isolationist.” In doing so, they reveal the failings of political elites.
US foreign policy has long been difficult to predict. Indeed, a historic overview of US foreign policy would reveal a thoroughly inconsistent approach to the world. A great deal of this problem has to do with the fact that America is a diversified democracy, but it also has a lot to do with the perceived successes and failures of US policies. In simplified terms, US foreign policy oscillates between engagement, which is favored when a lack of interference in foreign affairs coincides with unfavorable results, and disengagement, which is favored when interference in foreign affairs coincides with unfavorable results. At the center of this dynamic is a focus on the interests of the American People.
Modern governments are supposed to act on behalf of their Peoples to pursue their interests. When the US foreign policy fails to adequately reflect the diversified interests of the American People, it generates the political backlash that is responsible for the inconsistencies in US foreign policy. Considering the potential breakup of the European Union, the Arab Spring Revolutions, brewing civil unrest in South America, popular support for Vladimir Putin’s domineering foreign policy, and Asian backlash against Chinese aggression, among numerous other examples, it should be clear that the other Peoples of the world also want their governments to put their interests first.
American influence on the International Community and global economy draws scrutiny when US policies undermine the interests of other countries and Peoples. Whether people want US leadership or reject US imperialism, the impact of US foreign and economic policies on the world is so great that the US is the default global leader. The interests of the American People have often been neglected by US leadership, who rationalize their poor foreign and economic policy decisions with a need to avoid suppressing the interests of weaker nations. Instead of seeking to balance the interests of foreign partners, US leaders pursue internationalist ambitions and global governance.
Recognizing the interconnected nature of the modern world, national leaders across the globe have sought to play a major role in “international governance.” In other words, the national leaders of the world embrace “internationalist” thinking. In turn, they seek to “govern the world” and develop policies that serve aggregate global interests. Unfortunately, catering to global interests leaves the local and national interests of world’s population under-represented and under-addressed, which means internationalist policies are doomed to failure. The political situation in the United States and elsewhere is the result of internationalists failing to govern their nations for their Peoples.
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