There are many Trump loyalists that are still upset with the President over his foreign policy over the last two weeks. I believe that when they hear the President say “America First” they imagined that it meant an isolationist version of America only. They point to the President’s own previous condemnation of Obama’s intervention across the global to push the story that they were sold a bill of goods that are not behaving as advertised. I disagree because America first does not necessary mean American only.
Chief amongst the latest complaints are Syria posed no threat to the US or its citizens. Yes they are correct, however the type of actions that they were willingly engaging in could pose a potential threat to US security if left unchecked. If we allow any country to use chemical, biological or nuclear weapons and do not act then any negative consequences that would seek to remedy that behavior would fall to the international community. The very same international community that is watching their countries implode from within due to massive amounts of migration and still playing waltzes on the deck while their ship sinks. It is pretty clear that absence American involvement nothing substantial would be done about these incidents. America does have a vested interest in preventing this type of behavior instead of allowing it to become common practice. If this type of behavior became normalized it would not be long before we would find it within our borders.
Another item that has annoyed the America only crowd has been the President’s shift in policy on Chinese currency manipulation and softening on the UN. I am a realist and I never expected that President Trump would be able to keep every single promise or remain consistent on every policy position. I actually outlined my expectations of what I thought would constitute a successful Trump presidency in my article “The Winds of Change are Blowing Wild and Free”. While it is a large list it was never my expectation that he would get all of them crossed off the list. My items were far broader in scope than these very narrow policy positions, but as long as he remains focused on the economy, border security and conservative judicial appointments I can forgive a bit of ideological inconsistency on other issues as long as they are not too far off the beaten path. I expect that if getting the economy moving again requires us to change the tone on the currency manipulation charge to extract trade concessions from China and we take steps to limit the impact on America then I expect that those are the steps President Trump will take to fulfill his larger promise of getting the economy back on track. If toning down the rhetoric that is critical of UN induces our allies to pay their fair share then I am fine if this helps American avoid being mired in a protracted conflicts. I voted for a deal maker that would get movement on major policy positions and not quibble on the smaller ideological details.
America cannot retreat behind its borders and shut the door behind us. America first is not the same thing as America only. America first is making every decision with the welfare of Americans first and foremost as the beneficiaries, but sometimes that benefit will be longer term or indirect. However, this must also include making decisions that improve the position of our allies on occasion as a world where we allow our allies to disappear is not in the best interests of America. As great as America is, it could not stand alone where significant portions of the world united against us. Maintaining these strategic relationships helps keep America safe. While a closed economy might work for a while the impact would eventually be felt as growth stalled. Maintaining trade relationships with other countries keeps the engine of our economy in peak condition. I believe that there is a difference where America can act in a limited fashion to shape events or behavior, but we must seek to avoid becoming entangled in protracted engagements where we waste the lives of our soldiers and tax dollars for no real benefit. There are a lot of reasons why American must maintain its leadership role in the world, but chief among them is if we do not look out for our interests on a global scale no other country will.