Tonight, as Secretary Clinton gave her first speech as the Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee and the first such speech given by a woman of any major U.S. political party, Donald Trump eloquently articulated his policy of “America First,” which looks like it will be the cornerstone of his agenda if he is to march to the White House in January of 2017.
“America First”, as Trump said, means putting U.S. workers ahead of exporting work abroad. It means keeping jobs in the United States, protecting the steel workers and the coal miners, the farmers and the dairy producers from foreign competition.
In practical terms it means a complete reassessment of U.S. trade relations with all countries and with all organizations, including NAFTA. Such a policy shift will win Mr. Trump votes in November, but the implications of these policies should not be taken lightly and could have long-lasting geopolitical consequences.
While the dairy farmers, the coal workers, and the steel workers will be delighted with this announcement, countries with long standing trade relations with the U.S. should be getting a little nervous if Mr. Trump becomes President Trump.
America First also seems to sound like the U.S. will be reverting back to some form of isolationism. Such a shift will create a vacuum, and other nations and groups will push the limits of what is allowable. Russia might move more into the Ukraine? Terror groups might expand? Other nations will try to find out how aggressively they act under a Trump Presidency without U.S. action?
Will all trade deals be thrown out the window? Some? Which ones? All of these questions are not going to be answered until January if Mr. Trump is triumphant, but they could have damning consequences on the already delicate global economic situation.
America First might sound familiar, because there was a movement by that name prior to U.S. involvement in World War Two. The America First Committee, whose most famous member was Charles Lindbergh, opposed any and all U.S. intervention in World War Two from 1940 to December 7, 1941. Even after the fall of Poland, France, and much of Europe they continued to pressure the Roosevelt Administration against declaring war. They were successful until the attacks on Pearl Harbor.
If Trump wins in November and implements something similar to the movement in 1940 and 1941, what will happen to global stability?
Americans feel the economic pain and they want work. Creating jobs has been the hallmark of the Trump campaign thus far and it seems his way of doing this is at the risk of isolating the U.S. from the rest of the world.
But, as history reminds us, U.S. self-imposed isolation and leaving others to do as they wish can lead to global chaos and anarchy.