While running for president, Donald Trump highlighted the policies he would pursue to increase manufacturing jobs and reduce illegal immigration, which he branded as putting “America First.” Since being elected president, the metrics of his policy have been extremely positive, although there are no shortage of detractors.
While isolationists were particularly happy to hear such promises, Trump should not be considered an isolationist. His America First notion is more nuanced.
While it’s true that Trump doesn’t think the United States should be the world’s policeman, instead calling on its allies to protect themselves while offering U.S. aid to help them do so, his America First concept was based on his belief that previous presidents sometimes acted in a globalist way. Namely, pursuing policies that sent American jobs overseas, crafting trade deals that disproportionately benefited other nations and their citizens and fighting “endless wars” in Iraq, Syria and Africa.
Because the definition of America First is subject to a variety of interpretations, a clearer definition is warranted:
1) Economically, America First should mean policies designed to maximize GDP growth, such as lower taxes, fewer regulations, revisiting archaic protectionists laws and crafting more equitable trade deals.
2) Culturally, America First should foster a respect for English as the primary language of commerce, government and human interaction in the United States; respect for the U.S. Constitution; rejection of Sharia law, which rejects the U.S. Constitution and customs; and advancing school choice.
3) Physically, America First should lead to a strong military, which encourages diplomatic, economic, legal and other negotiated means for conflict resolution. As Trump has stated, the military should be used only when absolutely necessary, and only if there is a plan to win.
Then there is the complicated task of balancing short-term vs long-term issues.
A glaring historical example was the “America First Committee” of 1940, popularized by famous aviator Charles Lindbergh, which sought to keep the United States out of a land war in Europe but which actually encouraged German and Japanese aggression. Three days after the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7, 1941, the America First Committee, with its 800,000 members, was dissolved in disrepute.
We certainly do not want to repeat that isolationist mistake.
Our current key challenge is to clearly balance both short- and long-term issues. A logical physical protection strategy should borrow from the Cold War. We need two separate enemy/adversary containment strategies: one for the Reds (the communists and socialists in China and Russia) and one for the Greens (the Muslim supremacists of Iran, Islamic State, the Muslim Brotherhood and its financial sponsors Turkey and Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, which supports Wahabi Islamist terrorists and cultural subversives worldwide.)
A modernized America First policy demands that the United States contain these two threats, preferably with non-physical strategies, for as long as it takes until our adversaries and “frenemies” begin to honor basic human rights and stop posing threats to peaceful people and nations.
Ken Abramowitz is the president and founder of SaveTheWest.