Have the U.S. and Donald Trump become too nationalistic? Before answering this question, it would be worthwhile to consider the definition of nationalism and how it influences decisions by our government and its leaders.
“Nationalism is a patriotic feeling . . . [It could be] an extreme form of [patriotism] marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries.” And, “[It can be] advocacy of political independence for a particular country.”
The real issue is whether nationalism always, sometimes or never compliments democracy. Can a nation be extremely protective of its homeland and culture and still be a model democracy?
History reveals a number of examples of nationalism gone wild. The Nazi regime led by Adolf Hitler is the best example of nationalism at its worst. In the aforementioned definitions, “a feeling of superiority over other countries” stands out as an example of problematic nationalism. Hitler attempted to build an empire based upon a false assumption that some races are superior to others.
The murder of six million Jews to gain political and cultural advantage is extreme, to say the least. Unfortunately, some are using this disastrous period of time as a reference point to describe the political environment created by current U.S. leadership.
Trump, as president, is, and should be, deeply concerned with the security and welfare of Americans over all else. He needs to be nationalistic and make America his first priority. He must insure that the actions of our enemies, and any other types of danger, are kept in check regardless of the feelings of other nations and their people.
Cooperation with other states is ideal, but not always feasible. Trump has effectively pointed out several instances where our national interests are not aligned with other nations. And, after concluding this, he has walked away from existing arrangements and/or severely criticized others.
Is this practice a form of nationalism? Yes, of course. Should Trump be looking for situations in which the U.S. is disadvantaged, and insist on changes? Absolutely. Will other nations feel insulted? Probably, but that isn’t a reason to not move forward.
The most obvious examples of agreements made by former administrations that don’t consider America’s needs first, include the following: the Iran nuclear deal, trade agreements with certain countries and defense arrangements around the world.
Iran negotiated a very advantageous deal with the Obama administration that has the potential to be an existential threat to the U.S., Israel and other parties in the Middle East. It is the cornerstone of Obama’s foreign policy legacy, which may account for the agreement’s undesirable and irresponsible terms.
U.S. policy towards Iran has always been that the rogue nation should never possess a deliverable nuclear capability. On this principle alone, the deal fails miserably, as Iran will surely be a nuclear threat in about a decade.
Further, why would Obama and Kerry make a deal with a country that cannot be trusted and is arguably our most despised enemy? Why would we bargain with a country that publicly supports the demise of the State of Israel? Why would we ever be comfortable giving billions of dollars to a regime that incites so much discord and terrorism in the region?
Frankly, the only reason this deal was ever consummated was to bolster Obama’s pathetic legacy. The abrogation of the arrangement by Trump was the right thing to do, as was the adoption of aggressive sanctions against Iran.
The country’s economy is faltering every day and, in spite of complaints from our European allies, the sanctions are gaining traction and could result in regime change in the near future.
It’s been revealed that in almost every trade deal around the globe, the U.S. is at a significant disadvantage. The tariffs applied by our trade partners are always greater than those imposed by the U.S. Is this observation radical nationalism? No, the deals are inane. Why would former American presidents and Congresses agree to give an economic advantage to our trading partners?
Trump said he would address these inequities and was labeled a nationalist. He has already negotiated concessions with various countries around the world. They have no choice but to accede to U.S. demands because of our economic strength. Will they be unhappy? Who cares?
At the same time, Trump has complained about the role of the U.S. as the policeman for the world. Actually, playing the part is something the U.S. should embrace with certain limitations.
For one thing, the U.S. should not bear the cost of protecting other developed nations. Why should we station troops in Germany along with billions of dollars of equipment without an equitable monetary commitment from our hosts? Problems have surfaced over many years in NATO, where only a small number of members have met their spending responsibilities for defense. In the meantime, the U.S. provides the lion’s share of financial support to the alliance.
As he has gone around the world, Trump has exposed many unfair arrangements and built up a considerable amount of bad will. Deals must be equitable. If it’s nationalistic to put America first in trade and defense, so be it. Too many countries have taken advantage of America’s generosity, and Trump has been the only president with the courage to address it.