Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

What Trump Wants From the International Order

Trump may be a maverick, but not that much of a maverick.

By Leon Hadar

The American Conservative

We’re all familiar with “slippery slope” arguments. Allow Casual Fridays, and soon enough everyone will be coming to work in shorts and T-shirts. Ban assault weapons, and you’re on the road to repealing the Second Amendment.

In a way, the response of Western elites to the recent election reflects that kind of logic: as Donald Trump prepares to occupy the White House, we are about to see the collapse of the Western alliance and the breakdown of the post-World War II liberal international order. It’s the end of the West. We are closing the last chapter of the Age of Enlightenment.

But then, does anyone really believe that after four or eight years of a Trump presidency, the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan will turn into a new Trump Hotel (as recently proposed, tongue-in-cheek, by conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer)? Or that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund will shut down their offices in downtown Washington, DC?

In reality, Trump has pledged to do little that’s earth-shattering. He won’t pursue the Trans-Pacific Partnership—the same commitment made by the liberal-internationalist Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton. He’ll take another look at the North American Free Trade Agreement—a proposition supported by another liberal-internationalist Western leader, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. He’ll embrace a tougher posture in trade negotiations with China—the same kind of approach President Clinton took when pursuing his trade dealings with Japan. He’s suggested that the ideas of “regime change” and “nation building” in the Middle East have created strategic disasters and humanitarian catastrophes—as almost everyone seems to believe these days.


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