Trump Withdraws America From The World, And The World Responds

President Trump is alienating our allies and making friends with dictators, and the world is responding as you might expect they would.

French President Emmanuel Macron, ostensibly one of the few foreign leaders that President Trump at least appears to have a good relationship with, is the latest European leader to say that Europe must move forward on the assumption that the United States will not be playing the same role in world affairs that it has since the end of World War II:

PARIS — Emmanuel Macron on Monday called for greater European defense cooperation, and warned that the U.S. can no longer be relied upon for the Continent’s security.

He told French ambassadors that ”Europe can no longer entrust its security to the United States alone. It’s up to us to guarantee our security.”

Macron was speaking at the Elysée Palace at the opening of the Conference of Ambassadors, an annual gathering of French diplomats from around the world, and outlined his plans for French diplomacy over the coming year.

He said his objectives include preserving the Iranian nuclear deal “with newer, more exigent negotiations,” creating a new global environmental pact, and leaning on Russia and Turkey to secure a peaceful outcome in Syria.

Heiko Maas, the German Foreign Minister expressed similar sentiments:

BERLIN — Germany’s foreign minister said Monday that Europe should fill the gaps left by the withdrawal of American funds and diplomacy in international organizations and key regions of the world.

Heiko Maas told an annual gathering of German diplomats in Berlin that Europe should increase its political and financial weight at the United Nations and the World Trade Organization — both of which have come under pressure from Washington since U.S. President Donald Trump took office last year.

He also urged Europe to step up its activities in the Western Balkans, in the Mideast and in Africa, warning that “the cost of war, poverty and displacement in our neighborhood … is borne by us Europeans.”

Maas, who has defended the international deal to halt Iran’s nuclear program despite Trump’s decision to pull out of it, said while Europe should seek to “rebalance” its relationship with Washington, “the goal is never ‘Europe first.'”

Speaking at the same event, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland described current trans-Atlantic relations as “challenging.”

“We truly need a strong Europe today in the world, now more than ever,” she said, noting the threats posed to democratic nations by authoritarian states with “well-financed propaganda and espionage operations” and by domestic extremists such as white supremacists.

“(It’s) time for liberal democracy to fight back,” said Freeland, adding that one important task for governments was to reassure their beleaguered middle class citizens.

These instances aren’t the first time that European leaders have openly questioned whether the United States can be counted on to play the same role in the world that it has since the end of World War Two. Back in May, prior to a number of events this summer that have led to these comments, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was said in a public address that the United States could no longer be counted on to defend Europe as it had in the past, and that the continent needed to look to other options to provide for its own defense in the future. The immediate context for these comments, of course, were the talks going on between the United States and its European allies over the Trump Administration’s threat to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal, something that President Trump ultimately carried out. It also comes in the wake of more than a year of comments and actions from Trump since he became President, as well as when he was a candidate, that raise serious doubts about his commitment to the NATO alliance and emphasizes the damage that he has done to our relationships with our European allies. When the President visited Europe last year, for example, he left in his wake with many of our closest allies wondering just how committed the President was to the alliance and to its collective defense principles notwithstanding later assurances regarding that commitment on his part.

Outside of that, Trump has engaged in a number of other policies that have significantly soured the relationship between the United States and its allies, particularly our NATO allies. Last month, for example, the President revoked the exemption from the steel and aluminum tariffs that had been announced back in March that applied to American allies in Europe as well as Canada and Mexico. In doing so, Trump claimed that he was taking this action for “national security” reasons. Objectively speaking, of course, the idea that these allies are a national security threat to the United States, or that we could not rely on them as a source for aluminum and steel in the event of a national emergency or military threat is absurd. Needless to say, this didn’t go over very well with our allies in Europe and elsewhere. Canada’s Foreign Minister called the new tariffs “absurd,” for example, and European Union officials announced retaliatory tariffs against American goods. Things got even more bizarre in this regard as Trump exchanged harsh words with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prior to the G-7 Summit. Once he was at the summit, Trump essentially did everything he could to alienate America’s closest allies, thereby seemingly achieving a goal that Russia and, before it, the Soviet Union had only dreamed of, driving a wedge between the United States and its allies. After the Singapore Photo Op Summit, Trump continued his tirade against Trudeau, while polling revealed that Canadian public opinion about the United States was suffering as a result of American actions and the President’s rhetoric. Finally, it was reported at the same time that the President was considering what would effectively be a ban on German-built luxury automobiles, a threat that he continues to make. One month later, of course, Trump met with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and proceeded to perform just as obsequiously as he had in Singapore during his summit with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un. This meeting, of course, came in the wake of a NATO summit that was about as much of a disaster as you would expect it to be under Trump, and a trip to the United Kingdom that didn’t go much better.

Given all of this it’s hardly surprising that our major European allies, and even our friends to the north in Canada would begin to doubt just how much they can rely upon the United States as long as Donald Trump, or someone like him, is President of the United States. In stark contrast to previous Presidents who have been careful to keep up at least the public appearance of good relationships with our allies and their leaders even when there were sharp differences of opinion behind closed doors, this President thinks nothing of throwing these allies under the bus even when there is no rational reason to do so. The result of this is that both by his rhetoric and his actions, this President has done everything possible to alienate the United States from its allies and to, as I have said before, achieve the goal that Soviet leaders from Stalin to Gorbachev could only dream about by driving a wedge between the United States and the rest of the Atlantic alliance. It appears that our ostensible allies are getting the message.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, National Security, Politicians, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Ignorance leads to isolationism.

    The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.

    H.P. Lovecraft

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  2. Mikey says:
  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    So much winning. But trump was right about one thing: I am heartily sick and tired of it.

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  4. KM says:

    Make America Great Again by cutting off its power and influence, make us weaker by letting our allies and enemies take over in our spot, watering down it’s economic sway and dragging it back a century from the promise of creating new technology and the future fortunes they bring all to save dying industries and towns.

    Sometimes you had to destroy the village in order to save it. It’s better to die then be killed. MAGA. All those phrases mean the same thing – destruction you cause to spite another. It’s still destruction Trumpkins whether Trump does it or your foe. There’s no benefit here.

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  5. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Here’s the whole quote:
    “We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with the winning. Believe me, I agree, you will never get bored with the winning. We never get bored. We are going to turn this country around. We are going to start winning big on trade. Militarily, we’re going to build up our military. We’re going to have such a strong military that nobody, nobody is going to mess with us. We’re not going to have to use it.”
    — Donald J. Trump, Sept. 9, 2015

  6. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    You can’t ever have really expected that a man who would defraud people of their life-savings via a fake University, to respect alliances and relationships and the importance of world leadership. Dennison is a grifter; his view of the world is never farther than the next score. The idea of building something greater than himself, something lasting, is unknown to him.

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  7. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    OT…Dennison in Indiana, on the Democrats, last night:

    “They want to raid Medicare to pay for socialism.”

    You cannot fix stupid. He needs to be removed from office.

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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: It was a theme he returned to at campaign stop after campaign stop playing up variations of it. In Billings he said:

    We’re going to win so much, you’re going to sick and tired of winning.

    I could have used any number of play of words on the different versions but seeing as my revulsion most closely mirrors that remark I went with it.

  9. Kathy says:

    Europe dominated the world through the XIX Century, badly. essentially the continent was largely at peace, except for the 1848 revolutions, but that was because the various European powers transferred many of their conflicts overseas.

    Today the geopolitical situation is very different. Colonial empires are gone, the continent is again largely at peace, and most countries are integrated in free trade, free movement, and a common currency.

    There are problems, like independence movements within some countries (Catalonia, Scotland), the whole Brexit mess, the rise of nationalism, refugee crises of varying complexities, Russia, and more.

    The question is whether the lessons of the XX Century have been learned. Whether more countries, and governments, realize that peace, prosperity and trade are preferable to some nebulous notion of nationalist glory, and that war is merely destructive and profits only arms sellers.

    Interesting times.

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  10. Slugger says:

    Let’s talk less about Trump; all we need to know about Trump was displayed in his conduct following the death of Sen. McCain. The fact is that empires are inherently transitory. Maintenance of a far flung empire is a continuous process. This process tends to enrich and empower a segment of the hegemonic nation, and that segment often controls the internal politics of the hegemon. However, the costs, in taxes and blood, are a ongoing burden that erodes and eventually topples the rulers. There is no thousand year Reich. From Victoria being crowned Empress of India to the Easter 1916 uprisings in Ireland was less than a lifetime. The USSR, Japan, France also found the burden unsustainable.
    Personally, I believe that the source of America’s power was science and technology, and I date America’s decline to the 1993 decision that building the Superconducting Super Collider was too expensive.
    Back to Trump for a second. Retreat is harder to manage than success. One can be concerned that his temperament might get in the way. But I am sure he’ll do a fantastic job just like on NAFTA.

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  11. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Refresh me: Did he get a thunderous ovation each time, and that was why he repeated it, in one form or another, so often?

  12. MBunge says:

    The belief that the role America played in the world in 1948 is exactly the same role it should be playing in 2018 is stupid. It is illogical, anti-historical, and such a plainly childish concept that it should embarrass any supposed adult who espouses it.

    Things change. Things should change. Things need to change. If you don’t like the direction Donald Trump is taking America internationally, you need to do more than mindlessly cling to the way things have been and idiotically demand that NOTHING change while we continue the same policies and arangements with no regard for, you know, how well they actually work anymore.

    Oh, and let me specifically point something out I’m pretty sure most of the peanut gallery around here misses. Notice how, in all his repetitive posts on this subject, Mataconis never tries to argue that these global institutions are working well now. He doesn’t champion how they’re currently functioning. He doesn’t defend them by pointing to their present performance or explain how or what they are doing to deal with the problems confronting the globe in the early 21st century. The closest he comes is referencing NATO after 9/11, as though in the abscence of that treaty our erstwhile European allies would have simply abandoned America in a moment of crisis.

    No, his position boils down to “Things that worked, or at least seemed to work, in the past should continue on forever without any alteration, no matter how poorly they work now or in the future.” It’s a positively medieval understanding of society and humanity.

    Mike

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  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    Better to tear the world down than treat people of color as equals.

    Right-wing cultural panic is destroying America’s power and prestige in the world. We will never be as trusted again, that’s done, the legacy of WW2 and the Marshall Plan and the Occupation of Japan, the credit we earned leading the resistance to the USSR, the founding of NATO, the UN. . . all pissed away because fragile white men can’t face any challenge without fleeing the battlefield and cringing in squalid corners.

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  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: He ALWAYS gets a THUNDEROUS OVATION EVERYWHERE He goes! His ADORING masses just can’t GET ENOUGH of Him! He is LOVED BY ALL PEOPLES EVERYWHERE!!!

    Doncha know.

  15. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MBunge:
    Small men like you and your cult leader need a small world to make yourselves appear significant. Little, weak, cowardly men.

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  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MBunge:

    The belief that the role America played in the world in 1948 is exactly the same role it should be playing in 2018 is stupid. It is illogical, anti-historical, and such a plainly childish concept that it should embarrass any supposed adult who espouses it.

    Yes, it is stupid, that’s why it took you to come up with it. Really, your strawman went up in flames long before you hit the Post Comment button.

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  17. mattbernius says:

    @MBunge:

    The belief that the role America played in the world in 1948 is exactly the same role it should be playing in 2018 is stupid. It is illogical, anti-historical, and such a plainly childish concept that it should embarrass any supposed adult who espouses it.

    I agree.

    I will also note that this “embarrassing belief” as you put it is the cornerstone of the MAGA promise.

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  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    The question is whether the lessons of the XX Century have been learned. Whether more countries, and governments, realize that peace, prosperity and trade are preferable to some nebulous notion of nationalist glory, and that war is merely destructive and profits only arms sellers.

    Apparently not if the names of the people the question is asked to is Trump.

    On the other hand, the nasty, vile, hateful, selfish, evil, racist, conservative that lives in the abyss that marks the center of my soul looks at the following statement

    Europe can no longer entrust its security to the United States alone. It’s up to us to guarantee our security.

    and sees some measure of potential in it. I only with that it hadn’t taken a inept, ham-fisted, arrogant sociopath who has no understanding of what he has done and how it will affect the citizens of the nation he’s misguiding to encourage that realization and foster that sentiment among our allies. It would have been nice to have had a Europe that was more self-sufficient without the sort of alienation that Trump promotes as a feature of everything that he does. Our situation is truly sad and pathetic and low energy. Laissez les bons temps rouller.

  19. Tony W says:

    May we then take this to the next logical step? Since we have reduced influence and importance in the world, we can correspondingly reduce our military spending!

    Finally, there will be money for Federal Employee COLA, Medicare-for-all (without an insurance premium–>taxes swap), and a robust education for every citizen.

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  20. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @MBunge:

    The belief that the role America played in the world in 1948 is exactly the same role it should be playing in 2018 is stupid. It is illogical, anti-historical, and such a plainly childish concept that it should embarrass any supposed adult who espouses it.

    As you enthusiastically endorse Russian attacks on the US, child molestation, and sexual assault…I’ll take that with the grain of salt it demands.
    What you are saying is the opposite of Conservatism. You are not interested in fixing anything. You want to burn it all down, with absolutely no plan for the aftermath.

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  21. Ray says:

    Our Allies are now running to what country, hmm big surprise RUSSIA seems the majority of what Trump does results in positive gain for the US no Russia, I wonder why….

  22. Lounbury says:

    @Kathy:

    essentially the continent was largely at peace,

    Eh what?
    I dearly hope this is a mistyping as of course Europe was not in any way largely at peace in the 19th century.

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  23. drj says:

    @Lounbury:

    as of course Europe was not in any way largely at peace in the 19th century.

    It depends on your frame of reference.

    If:

    1) you let the 19th century start in 1815 and end in 1914 (as quite a few historians tend to do)
    2) compare the 19th century to the 18th and the first half of the 20th

    …then Europe was arguably “largely at peace” during the 19th century (none of the 19th-century wars were as cataclysmic as the Napoleonic wars or WW1).

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  24. george says:

    Its a good thing that Europe wants to become self-sufficient militarily. Its a very good thing to spread world power more uniformly, rather than concentrating it in one or two nations.

    But the way Trump is going about it is a disaster. Encouraging your allies, and countries in general, to act independently is a noble thing. Driving them away with your bad behavior is insanity.

  25. george says:

    @drj:

    The sad thing is that despite the Franco-Prussian war killing 170, 000 soldiers (with another 200,000 wounded, often maimed for life), you’re correct it was relatively peaceful – which says just how violent the world has been. Almost 200,000 deaths in a war as a sign of relative peace …

  26. Lounsbury says:

    @drj:
    Are you people daft?

    So if you ad hoc define away the Napoleonic wars, ignore the various Balkan wars (not Europe for what reason?), ignore the French Bourbon intervention in Spain, two Italian wars with Austro-Hungarian, hand wave away the various Russian-Ottoman Caucasian and Crimean wars, the Austro-Prussian War… [this all allowing for ignoring 1848]. And of course the Franco-Prussian tiff…

    Well yes, perfectly bloody peaceful in a literally bloody fashion.

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  27. Lounsbury says:

    @MBunge:

    Yes that would indeed be the line from Yasenovo District, right in keeping with SVR objectives.

  28. MarkedMan says:

    This past weekend I dropped a kid off at McGill university (trivia: did you know that Harvard is often referred to as the McGill of the South? At least according to the T-Shirt my wife bought…) Two years ago US students made up 7% of the incoming class, the biggest of any foreign country. China was just behind. This year the US was still at 7%, but Chinese students make up 13%. It’s pretty obvious where the jump came from. In past years these students would have come to a US school but I can tell you for a fact that well off Chinese parents are increasingly skeptical of sending their children to the the US because they fear they will be mistreated and humiliated by the US government and bigoted US citizens, not to mention shot by crazy NRA members. This loss will have a real impact. Their parents pay full tuition and give them a generous clothing and entertainment allowance. They rent apartments for them, buy them cars, and on and on. All this money will be spent in Canada and not in the US. (Or Australia. Or New Zealand. Or the UK. Or the Netherlands. You get the idea.) And these are students who could get into schools like McGill. Upon graduation many will stay in their host country and they will do great work. And on the engineering side, I know that there is a lot of wealthy Chinese that are looking to invest in international startups, and one with a smart young Chinese ex-pat in the leadership will have a real advantage in attracting that money.

    Like any other foreigner, my son needed a certificate allowing him to study in a Canada. When he got it there was a letter attached and the last paragraph said, more or less, “We are happy you have decided to study in Canada and hope you consider staying on after graduation and working here.” Anyone that gets a degree from a Canadian institution is all but guaranteed to get the equivalent of a green card.

    Could you imagine an attitude like that here in the US? Given the racist trash we have elected to office in this country?

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  29. JKB says:

    A few statements on the matter of America being suppose to lead but then not suppose to lead:

    Robert Kagan, in Of Paradise and Power, gives a nifty analogy to describe the situation:

    A man armed only with a knife may decide that a bear prowling the forest is a tolerable danger, inasmuch as the alternative — hunting the bear armed only with a knife — is actually riskier than lying low and hoping the bear never attacks. The same man with a rifle, however, will make a different calculation of what constitutes a tolerable risk. Why should he risk being mauled to death if he doesn’t have to? This perfectly normal human psychology has driven a wedge between the United States and Europe.

    [T]he late American political scientists, Irving Kristol, writing as long ago as 1983, he spotted it then. “If we’ve learned anything from the experience of the last 30 years,” that is the post-war years, “it is that dependency corrupts. To the degree that Europe has been dependent upon the United States, European political vitality has diminished.”

    Stephen Harper: On the other hand, my observation as Prime Minister of Canada is there’s been lots of examples of American leadership without much in the way of non-American followership. Americans have been told now for at least a generation a couple of things that are frankly at their heart incompatible. One is that America has unique leadership responsibilities and the other is that this is a multi-lateral world where America can’t really lead. So which is it? I think the truth is the latter is more true, it is increasingly a more multi-lateral world, and that if we want, and I talk about Canadians and Europeans and others, if we who share, broadly-speaking, the market-oriented, democratic values of western nations. If we want to see American leadership, we have to do more. We have to be better at partnership and followership if we want that American leadership. Otherwise I think that the Trump approach is a signal of the future. If America can’t really lead, America’s going to worry about itself. It’s up to the rest of us, I think, to demonstrate that we really can be good and useful partners.

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  30. de stijl says:

    The US right wants us to be an isolationist Hegemon able to bend friendly nations’ foreign policy to our will. They want us to be the world’s superpower and that a subject Europe should pay us for protection and also provide their fair share of troops and materiel.

    If I were France or Britain or Germany there is no way in hell I would trust the US right now. We went nutzoid for 8 years, became calm and prudent for 8 years, and then went super-duper bonkers right after that – talked about withdrawing from NATO.

    Seriously, dudes! Pick one! If you’re *for* all of the above, we will get none except for the isolated bit – AND THAT’S A REALLY BAD OUTCOME!

  31. de stijl says:

    @JKB:

    You outsourced your point to Robert Kagan? Gah!!

  32. george says:

    @JKB:

    I think Harper has it right – rather than looking for American leadership with its implied European follower status, its better for Europe to learn to act independently.

    The problem with Trump is not that he thinks this, its that he acts in such a way that he’s alienating Europe (and much of the rest of the world) from America. Ideally, a Europe that was America’s equal politically, economically and militarily would be a strong, friendly ally for America. Trump’s turning them into a strong, neutral party – or worse, in economic terms driving them into a closer friendship with China than with America. That’s simple insanity.

    You want your children to grow up to be as strong as you, and to act independently of you. You don’t want them to grow up to dislike you.

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  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @george:

    You don’t want them to grow up to dislike you.

    I think it’s even money that JKB does want them to grow up to dislike him.

  34. MarkedMan says:

    @george: So your point is basically Trump is doing good things but he should do it in a nicer way? How amazingly Pearce-like of you.

  35. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Lounbury: The major powers were at peace, with brief exceptions (after 1815: 1848; 1859; 1854-56; 1866; 180-71). Compared with the 16th – 18th centuries, it was a pacific oasis.

  36. drj says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Are you people daft?

    In the period 1815-1914 (much more of a coherent chronological unit than the completely arbitrary 1800-1900) the various Great Powers of the day were far more reluctant to directly wage war with each other than either before or after.

    Does that mean that “essentially the continent was largely at peace?”

    In absolute terms obviously not (duh), but relatively speaking: yes.

    As this is pretty much the consensus among historians, I’m quite sure that this is what Kathy was trying to say and I, in my turn, was trying to be helpful by pointing that out.

    Wasted effort, I guess.

  37. JKB says:

    @george: You don’t want them to grow up to dislike you.

    But neither should you worry that they’ll dislike you when it is necessary for break their plate and force them to stand on their own two feet.

  38. Lounsbury says:

    @drj: Well yes wasted effort as to this European there is rather an enormous difference between “not quite so many Great Power wars” and “largely at peace” particularly when such statement depends on your defining away inconvenient actual conflicts ‘on the periphery’ and deciding the Russian Empire and the Ottomans “don’t count” for whatever provincial politics view you might have.

  39. KM says:

    @george:

    Ideally, a Europe that was America’s equal politically, economically and militarily would be a strong, friendly ally for America. Trump’s turning them into a strong, neutral party – or worse, in economic terms driving them into a closer friendship with China than with America. That’s simple insanity.

    Correct. The idea that Europe would *not* be an ally of the US is inconceivable to them, even though that was kinda it’s default state for most of our existence. Sure, we had one or two nations that thought we were OK but for the most part, Europe in general was not our BFF until the WW’s happened.

    Pax Americana happened because we were the biggest kid on the block that was left, not because we’re inherently awesome. WWII took major players out of the game for a while or kept them from joining the stage. We’ve coasted on the fact that we survived intact as a nation with our land, resources and power untouched. Now that the other kids are out of the hospital from the big fight and able to scuffle again, why exactly are telling them to piss off and not be our friends? Why are we pushing them to form a clique without us and not expecting it end with our possible asskicking or exclusion?

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  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JKB: As incoherent as that was, based on what I think you might have been trying to say, I don’t understand why you cast your children loving you and your children being able to “stand on their own two feet” as a dichotomy. Don’t most parents manage to have both familial love and independent children?

    I just now–while writing this comment–was touched by a feeling of sadness for the childhood of the character that you portray on the interwebs. I hope it’s just a character and not the real you.

  41. Kathy says:

    @drj:

    As this is pretty much the consensus among historians, I’m quite sure that this is what Kathy was trying to say and I, in my turn, was trying to be helpful by pointing that out.

    Pretty much, yes.

    I don’t want to get off topic by discussing European wars. So I’ll just say this: The wars part of the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic wars, were extensive, continent-wide affairs (with wars extending to the Atlantic Ocean and the Americas). Latter XIX Century conflicts were far smaller, shorter and far less consequential.

    Some historians label the Napoleonic Wars as World War Zero.

    Now back on topic.

  42. george says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I note, running what you write through a language analyzer like https://www.online-utility.org/text/analyzer.jsp that you score considerably closer to his writing than I do.

    Which suggests that perhaps you are a front for Pearce, trying to deflect the suspicion onto others? As Shakespeare said, “the lady doth protest too much”.

    Beyond that, its been a pretty standard position among Europeans (and Canadians) for several decades that military and economic independence from America is something to be sought. If you’re so unknowledgeable about European politics to think that started with Trump then there’s really no reason to take anything you say about the topic seriously.

    Do yourself a favor, and read up about European concerns about American domination post WW2 – you’ll see it started with De Gaule right after the war (he was French, since you clearly never heard of him or his views) and continued on through the decades, increasing during the Vietnam War, and then again during Reagan’s administration. This is a far bigger issue than Trump, and only an American could think it started with him. After some background reading you might understand why its been an issue for decades, and why it will continue to be so after Trump is gone.

  43. george says:

    @KM:

    Pax Americana happened because we were the biggest kid on the block that was left, not because we’re inherently awesome. WWII took major players out of the game for a while or kept them from joining the stage. We’ve coasted on the fact that we survived intact as a nation with our land, resources and power untouched. Now that the other kids are out of the hospital from the big fight and able to scuffle again, why exactly are telling them to piss off and not be our friends? Why are we pushing them to form a clique without us and not expecting it end with our possible asskicking or exclusion?

    That sums it up nicely. Its always been unrealistic to think 5% of the world (ie America) could sustain domination over the other 95% – as you point out, the situation was an artificial one because of the destruction of WW2. Countries are recovering, the trick is to become friends and allies with them.

  44. Grewgills says:

    @george:

    Countries are recovering, the trick is to become friends and allies with them.

    or at the least maintain as many of the friends and allies as you can.

  45. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Kathy: S

    ome historians label the Napoleonic Wars as World War Zero.

    There were several European Continental Wars that had battles in the Americas and in Asia. But World War I and II were different because they were the first European Continental Wars between industrialized powers, with large scale warfare.

    The wars that happened after 1850(even the Paraguay War, that did not involve industrialized powers) were pretty brutal.

  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Seeing that I hold a similar opinion, I will weigh in noting that it’s not so much that “Trump is doing good things” as that his blundering is having some partially salutary (but minuscule-ly so) effects. Sort of on the lines of blind squirrels/hogs finding acorns/truffles.

    I don’t find that theme is Pearce’s musings

  47. Grumpy realist says:

    @Slugger: speaking as a scientist, what kept US science and technology going was the New England culture (respect for education, resourcefulness, thriftiness) and the huge influx of European refugees in WWII.

    Now that we’ve gone back to our standard culture of sneering at learning and Greed Uber Alles it’s not surprising we’re seeing a collapse. We’re like the Brits—we’d rather shoot ourselves in the feet rather than admit we’re wrong.

  48. Kathy says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    There were several European Continental Wars that had battles in the Americas and in Asia.

    History involves a series of interminable arguments.

    The Seven years War was also of vast reach and had vast consequences. It also gets tagged as World War Zero.

    The consequences are rather interesting. The Seven Years war unleashed events that led to the independence of the US, which led to the French Revolution, which led to the Napoleonic Wars, which led to the independence wars in all of the Spanish Americas.

    That’s one busy half century.

  49. JohnSF says:

    @MBunge:
    The security system founded by the Truman administration was based on not allowing multiple areas of industrial/technological power potential to be controlled by Powers hostile to American interests, and maintaining the benign security environment of the Western Hemisphere

    The main change since is the rise of China and the decline of Russia, (but with a post-Soviet legacy of military strength).

    I fail to see how such changes alter the fundamentals; hostile or potentially hostile Powers should be prevented from achieving multi-regional dominance; and offered a route to peaceful co-existence, prosperity and security if they accept a rules-constrained international order.

    I would have thought the (possible) challenge of China to a rules-based order would be be best handled by reinforcing, not undermining, multilateral instruments.
    And also by responding to Russian misbehaviour to demonstrate that it will not pay dividends in the longer term.

    Further, it is also not clear to me how gratuitously offending e.g. Canada and Mexico serves US interests.
    Or Japan.
    Or South Korea.

    Or walking away from concerns with Europe.
    THE most perilous outcome for the US, in 1948 and now, would be a Europe as, or dominated by, a hostile Power.
    Europe STILL dwarfs China in economic/industrial/technical/military power-potential.

    Things may change at the international dinner party.
    But kicking over the dining table seems ill advised.
    Especially if the soup lands in your lap.