Trump advisers Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and Gary Cohn offered a clear articulation of the president’s foreign policy mantra “America First” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Tuesday.
McMaster and Cohn laid out the Trump administration’s view that nations are in competition with each other and often do not share the same mutual goals. The op-ed does not explicitly reject multilateral institutions but instead lays out the Trump administration’s commitment to use them to advance American over global interests.
“The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage,” they wrote. “We bring to this forum unmatched military, political, economic, cultural and moral strength. Rather than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace it.”
The presidential advisors similarly explained that the Trump administration interprets the founding American phrase of securing “the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity,” as “identifying the interests and principles that make America uncommon and advancing them in the Middle East, with our NATO allies, with the G-7 nations and beyond.”
The op-ed by and large is a defense of Trump’s recent foreign trip where he chastised NATO allies for not meeting agreed upon defense agreements, and confronted Germany over the U.S. trade deficit. Trump’s visit drew ire from many European allies after he did not explicitly reaffirm U.S. commitment to Article 5 of the NATO alliance, although the op-ed says he did. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer similarly declared that U.S. commitment to Article 5 “goes without saying.”
The op-ed echoes Trump’s first foreign policy speech as a major candidate in April 2016 when he emphasized that “businesses do not succeed when they lose sight of their core interests and neither do countries.”
“Both our friends and our enemies put their countries above ours and we, while being fair to them, must start doing the same,” he declared. “I am skeptical of international unions that tie us up and bring America down and will never enter.”
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