“America First” and Global Conflict Next
When America pursued “America first,” policies in the 1920s and 1930s, it brought on the Great Depression and helped sow the seeds of World War II. If US President-elect Donald Trump shifts US geopolitical strategy similarly toward isolationism and unilateralism, there is little reason to expect a better outcome.
NEW YORK – Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States does not just represent a mounting populist backlash against globalization. It may also portend the end of Pax Americana – the international order of free exchange and shared security that the US and its allies built after World War II.
That US-led global order has enabled 70 years of prosperity. It rests on market-oriented regimes of trade liberalization, increased capital mobility, and appropriate social-welfare policies; backed by American security guarantees in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, through NATO and various other alliances.
Trump, however, may pursue populist, anti-globalization, and protectionist policies that hinder trade and restrict the movement of labor and capital. And he has cast doubt on existing US security guarantees by suggesting that he will force America’s allies to pay for more of their own defense. If Trump is serious about putting “America first,” his administration will shift US geopolitical strategy toward isolationism and unilateralism, pursuing only the national interests of the homeland.
We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.
To continue reading, subscribe now.
Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.
Already have an account or want to create one to read two commentaries for free? Log in