Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Durability of Our International Alliances

I asked a friend high in the foreign ministry of a major European country whether our alliances will "snap back" once Trump is gone, or if permanent damage has been done. He said that if Trump doesn't get reelected, much will snap back. If he's reelected, he thinks an irreversible course will take place.

I made the point that if Trump were reelected, it would surely be due to the Democrats losing their minds and running an extreme left-wing candidate in a strident campaign alienating independents (who might not vote Trump, but wouldn't vote at all). He didn't appear to completely understand this dynamic (the European left being far more progressive than left, it's hard over there to understand why a democratic socialist would strike mainstream America as unpalatably extreme).

He did make the point that already, many quiet business and political decisions are peeling Europe away from America. For example, there's increasing reluctance to purchase US military equipment because of uncertainty re: ongoing equipment support (something staunch allies never worry about). There's sharply increasing desire to buy such equipment from European manufacturers, even if quality is inferior.

But the more important realignment is in the Third World, where China is eagerly filling our vacuum (the Trans-Pacific Partnership would have helped contain that). Fifty years from now, I suspect we'll see Trump's isolationism and TPP rejection (fwiw, Hillary succumbed to political pressure from the Left to reject it, herself) as an even bigger gift to China than Bush's Iraq war was to Iran. From George HW Bush's funding of the Afghani mujahideen to George W Bush's hatchet job in Iraq to Trump's isolationism (Russia aside), the Republicans have quite an astonishing record of handing fat free victories to our most virulent adversaries.

Speaking of Bush and Iraq, I recall similar European murmurings about how Bush's foolish blunders would be forgotten if he wasn't reelected. Of course, he was, and we eventually sprung back into Europe's good graces anyway. So...who knows.

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