(1) President Trump has promised to make America Great Again, but his actual plan—closing our borders, limiting immigration, implementing trade protectionism and limiting our role in the U.N. are far more likely to cause us to lose our place as the world’s primary superpower, a role we’ve played since the fall of the Soviet Union.
This is what Vladimir Putin is after, of course, and it’s also what many of the most strident critics of our foreign policy—including the likes of many fans of Wikileaks—have wanted for years. They see our country as irretrievably compromised and our influence as profoundly negative, so they want to see our country crestfallen. Of course, these critiques of the U.S. focus largely (though not exclusively) on our country’s foreign policy failures, especially those involving the CIA or the military, and ignore the very real benefits of American power abroad.
For proof, consider the state of affairs when the Soviet Union collapsed; its influence was quickly replaced by American influence. Generally speaking, the former Eastern Bloc countries, including East Germany, became more democratic and markets opened up; some even joined NATO. This stability ensured widespread, albeit not total, peace on the Continent for the last 40 years. We have reaped incredible benefits from this—each year trade between the U.S. and the European Union accounts for more than a trillion dollars.
The same is true for China. A stable, decades-long relationship with China is now in serious jeopardy thanks to Trump’s sudden disavowal of the “One China” policy and his careless threats to impose tariffs or label the country a currency manipulator. Of course, Trump ignores or is unaware of what we get from the relationship (as flawed as it is); according to the U.S. government’s own statistics, in 2015, we exported $161.6 billion to China, importing $497.8 billion from them.
The question is, what happens if the status quo shifts?