PARIS — There continues to be much pearl-clutching in Washington establishment circles over the global impact of Donald Trump’s presidency. These state apparatchiks — civil servants, lobbyists and other assorted clingers to power — remain permanent fixtures as American presidents come and go.
One such individual who spoke on a panel with me at a conference in Africa a few years ago summarized how they all think: “I want America to be everywhere, all over the world,” he told the audience. It would have been hard to imagine any of the French panel members saying, “I want France to be everywhere, all over the world!”
But who’s paying for the great ambitions of the Washington establishment? You are. And what kind of return have you been getting on your investment?
Let’s face it: Their track record hasn’t been great. Regime-change efforts have failed. And worse, they’ve caused regime-change targets such as Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, Iraq and Iran to cozy up to the competition. Russia and China have been the ultimate beneficiaries of Washington’s perennial incompetence. That ball had already started rolling before Trump took office.
Trump isn’t the Russian tool his critics portray him to be. It’s the entire Washington establishment that has long acted like a useful idiot for any competent nation-state alternative.
The establishment types are largely responsible for America crash-landing in foreign countries, breaking them, then sticking around to wallow in the failure. They’re the ones who goad administrations into sanctioning countries for “human rights” violations if they haven’t bent to America’s will, all while cozying up to far worse violators who pay America for the privilege of being considered an ally.
However unorthodox he is in his rhetoric, Trump has continued the reduction of America’s global footprint. That reduction had already started inadvertently as a result of the establishment’s repeated failures. Trump has simply put the final nail in the coffin of the idea of a single global superpower.
But that’s not a bad thing — either for U.S. taxpayers or for the rest of the world. There ought to be several regional centers of power around the world that can cooperate on an ad hoc basis to resolve conflicts. There’s no need for America to engage on the other side of the planet in any conflict that has no real benefit for the American people.
Just try to name any recent U.S. intervention in a foreign conflict that produced a net benefit for the American taxpayer. Right away, we can eliminate every intervention in the Middle East. The U.S. has its own oil now. It produces more crude oil than either Saudi Arabia or Russia. America doesn’t need to go fight for oil overseas. And fighting terrorists on the other side of the world is a waste of money when you can just spend a few more dollars putting better locks on the doors so they can’t come in.
Yes, selling expensive weapons to foreign countries creates jobs in the U.S. defense industry. But Trump has solved that problem by just giving more tax dollars directly to the defense sector. Since Trump hasn’t started any new wars to justify more military spending, we’ll have to settle for ramped-up rhetoric about potential threats such as Russia and China. After all, only some unpatriotic appeaser doing the bidding of America’s enemies would ever argue against military spending sprees just because there’s a lack of actual war.
Trump has accelerated global multipolarity through U.S. retreat as part of a deliberate agenda rather than through unintentional incompetence. Europe, led by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is forging a new European independence and creating political and economic alliances with its eastern neighbors that reflect geographic realities and can assist in resolving problems. For instance, key actors in the recent skirmishes between Azerbaijan and Armenia — and in the civil unrest that has plagued Belarus following a contested presidential election — have solicited help from Russia and France to resolve the conflict. It’s a positive development. Why should the U.S. always be dragged into foreign dramas in places many Americans would have difficulty identifying on a map?
Regardless of who wins the upcoming U.S. presidential election, a political big bang has already happened, stretching out influence from a single focal point to several other points of orbit worldwide. Neither Joe Biden nor Donald Trump is going to put that genie back in its bottle. Nor, for Americans’ sake, should they really want to.
(Rachel Marsden is a columnist, political strategist and host of an independently produced French-language program that airs on Sputnik France. Her website can be found at http://www.rachelmarsden.com.)
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