Isolationism or Globalism? Fear or Friendship?

Yesterday morning I heard a story on the BBC about how people in emerging countries tended to identify as global citizens, while people in industrialized countries were more nationalist. At the time I heard the story, I thought this was a positive story, but now I am not so sure. First, a little background…

I got my bachelor’s degree in international relations, which required me to spend years studying foreign policy. I focused on studying negotiations and decision-making strategies, which also required me to study people. One safe assumption to make in most negotiations is to assume that both parties are selfish. Most of the time, when someone is acting in a manner that makes them appear altruistic, they are simply trading short-term selflessness for long-term selfishness. This is most easily seen in environmental negotiations: Countries sacrifice short-term economics for a long-term ecological gain.

People in industrialized countries, like the U.S. and in Europe, tend to be nationalist because they want to keep what they have and not divide their wealth with the rest of the world. People in emerging countries are willing to share what they have in the hope to get a larger slice of the pie from the industrialized world. Both viewpoints are selfish–but both are important.

Industrialized countries should give more to emerging countries to help them grow, but there is a limit. If you have a working car, you shouldn’t give away a wheel to help a friend make a wheelbarrow, because that cripples your personal economy. You are both better off using your car to help your friend. Industrialized countries should use their economic might to help emerging countries, but many of these ways are unpopular with their citizens, again, because of selfishness. People don’t want to see their companies opening factories in other countries. They don’t want them buying from suppliers in other countries. Unfortunately, it’s usually a case of shortsightedness. If you build their economies today, they become better customers tomorrow.

Yesterday, Donald Trump gave his first foreign policy speech. He starts by setting his guiding principle:

“My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people and American security above all else. It has to be first. Has to be.”

He then goes into military spending, saying that we need to “rebuild our military.” The U.S. does spend over one-third of the global military budget, more than the next eleven countries combined. Personally, I think that’s enough. He then complains that only 4 of 28 NATO countries meet their spending obligations.

“The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense, and if not, the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves. We have no choice.”

He almost immediately follows this with:

“(O)ur friends are beginning to think they can’t depend on us.”

You threaten to abandon them one moment then claim that they can’t depend on us? Really? The speech is a rambling mess of inconsistencies. One moment he’s wanting more use of power, the next he’s an isolationist. There really aren’t any specifics, which leads me to believe he will be shooting from the hip. Brilliant.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a globalist. I believe the best thing we can do for the American economy is to grow the global economy. The best way to turn enemies into friends is to engage them, not isolate them. You can disagree with your neighbor about his dog coming into your yard without banning him from the block party. Yes, we will always have disagreements with people, and some people, like ISIS, simply are immune to reason. The overwhelming majority of the world wants the same thing: A safe, comfortable life.

If we work together, we can all have that.

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Filed under Foreign Policy, Stuff About Me

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