Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts American Engagement: When It Comes to Foreign Policy, Does America Deserve Trump?

American Engagement: When It Comes to Foreign Policy, Does America Deserve Trump?

Ethics and International Affairs

In a recent op-ed, two former American Foreign Service officers made a very compelling argument in support of greater American engagement globally and renewed U.S. democracy support abroad. Amb. Adrian Basora and Amb. Ken Yalowitz argue that the current global authoritarian offensive is a U.S. national security threat and conclude that “business and economic thought leaders as well as scholars, policy analysts, and advocates at think tanks and universities are increasingly realizing that the United States will be both less prosperous and less secure if the current dramatic slide in America’s image is not halted, and if the authoritarian offensive is not effectively countered.” While this argument is valid and important, so is the fact that U.S. foreign policy is largely an elite issue. Furthermore, as Aaron Miller and Richard Sokolsky so eloquently stated in their recent Foreign Policy article, “most Americans frankly don’t give a damn about foreign policy.” In fact, the importance of U.S. global engagement has been gradually losing popularity according to various public opinion polls conducted throughout the past decade. There is also growing support for more defense spending as North Korea, cyber space, and ISIS continue to be seen as top national security threats. Moreover, most Americans now think that the United States should take care of its own problems and let the rest of the world do the same for itself. In Donald Trump, Americans now have a president who is acting on that popular sentiment. As Nick Gvosdev recently put it, Trump has made it very clear that under his leadership America is likely to become a “self-sufficient economic power” promising to take a “more transactional view of foreign policy.”

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