Those who squandered America’s economic and strategic advantage are trying to distract from their record
“We should be more than worried. Neither America nor the world can afford a lurch into Trumpian isolationism,” wrote Philip Stevens in the Financial Times on Sept. 21.
Everyone from The New York Times to Hillary Clinton herself touted the letter signed by 50 former GOP officials in August, stating their opposition to Donald Trump’s candidacy.
“Like the generals in World War I who kept sending larger and larger numbers of men to die in hopeless battles, our elites believe that we need more of the same.”
Among other things, the group contended that Trump has little knowledge regarding America’s “vital national interests, its complex diplomatic challenges, its indispensable alliances and the democratic values” that should undergird our foreign policy.
There is no end to their handwringing and alarmism over the supposed damage a President Trump would do to the United States. The so-called “mainstream” press — which WikiLeaks has revealed to be little more than a Hillary super PAC — is full of stories about how Trump presents a threat to the “world order” that has purportedly governed foreign affairs since the end of World War II. But the truth is that the “world order” in question exists only in the minds of those pundits who aren’t paying attention to life on this planet.
The entire concept of a continuous, stable, and peaceful “world order” that goes back to 1945 would come as a shock to the many Americans who lost friends and loved ones on battlefields in Korea, Vietnam, and countless other places during that period. The reality of the situation is that between 1945 and 1990, the United States faced very severe challenges — not only to any type of “world order,” but to its very freedom. Some presidents — like Reagan and Eisenhower — dealt with those challenges successfully, helping Americans to enjoy brief periods of peace and prosperity. Others — like Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter — failed to meet the foreign policy challenges of their time, and left a more dangerous world to their successors. The whole notion that the world simply ran on autopilot, and that U.S. policymakers had few critical decisions to make, is simply wrong.
After America’s triumph in the Cold War, however, the difficulties of that struggle were quickly forgotten in Washington and the capitals of Europe. Instead, Western leaders congratulated themselves on the notion that they had reached “the end of history,” and that liberal capitalism would reign supreme in perpetuity — a conclusion directly contradicted by centuries of real-world experience. Armed with this false premise, U.S. foreign policymakers on both sides of the aisle made a serious of disastrous blunders:
- They believed that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would promote better relations in North America, and reduce concerns over illegal immigration. They were wrong. Instead, illegal immigration from Mexico to the United States surged, while relations between all three NAFTA countries have generally deteriorated. By 2008, even Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were calling for NAFTA to be re-negotiated — but of course, that was just another empty promise.
- They believed that the World Trade Organization (WTO) would serve as a bastion of support for market economies, and would encourage countries like Japan to give up their mercantilist practices. They were wrong. Instead, the United States has become the main target of the WTO’s dispute settlement system, as our trading partners regularly treat us as a punching bag, winning disputes and forcing us to change our laws to better suit their preferences. This year, the globalists in the Obama administration blocked an appointment to the WTO’s Appellate Body — because even they are tired of losing so many cases there.
- They believed that facilitating the rise of China — by giving the Chinese practically unlimited access to Western markets and technology — would lead to a freer and safer world. They were wrong. The relentless dictators in China are using their newfound wealth to consolidate their power, both inside China and around the world. If current trends continue, we will soon be driven from Asia, and a Communist dictatorship will replace the United States as the world’s largest economy.
- They believed that a weakened Russia could do little to challenge the West. They were wrong. Vladimir Putin’s government, despite an economy smaller than that of Canada, has tied Western policymakers in knots — making them look feckless and weak, and undermining NATO.
- They believed that spreading democracy in the Middle East would lead to more stable and peaceful governments in that part of the world. They were wrong. The disastrous wars and other mistakes of the last 15 years have created a Middle East that appears to be more violent and dangerous than ever. Furthermore, the Middle East is now flooding the West with refugees and terrorists, who are creating huge political problems in the United States and Western Europe.
- They believed that cramming most of the historic nations of Europe into a single union with a shared currency would lead to peace and prosperity. They were wrong. Europe’s economy has been staggering for years, and the voters of the United Kingdom grew so disgusted with the European Union that they voted to leave it altogether — another development our elites failed to anticipate.
- They believed that Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, was a force of calm and stability within the Western alliance. They were wrong. She has proven to be an unyielding fanatic whose absolute refusal to change course — no matter how bad that course may be — has not only damaged the economies of southern Europe, and driven Britain from the E.U., but has destabilized Germany itself by opening that country to a surge of Middle Eastern refugees for which the German people, and their government, were not ready.
- They believed that giving away our manufacturing base and welcoming illegal immigrants from around the world would lead to a happier and more prosperous America. They were wrong. The U.S. economy has performed so poorly that experts like Larry Summers now suggest we have entered a period of permanent “secular stagnation.” Meanwhile, U.S. politics are riven by the utter mistrust that many voters feel for the elites who govern them — and by the contempt many of those elites feel for those voters.
They believed that as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton — a donor-controlled hack who may be the least persuasive person ever to hold high public office in this country — could help resolve the significant foreign policy problems that were already becoming obvious by 2009. Instead, she failed at that job, and the world is now less stable and more dangerous than when she went to Foggy Bottom.
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