Arguably, the most lasting morbid legacy of Donald Trump will be having removed the United States from multilateral alliances and agreements, or, if not having actually removed us, having badly degraded those alliances with insults.
The greatest gift from the Greatest Generation might be what they did after World War II. Having experienced firsthand the ravages of nationalism as it brutalized the first half of the twentieth century, wiser heads set up political, military and economic alliances and agreements that would hopefully prevent or at least greatly reduce the chances of catastrophic wars between the great powers of the world. Those alliances and agreements have been successful.
The “extremely stable genius” said at the United Nations last September he seeks to reestablish nationalism as the basis for international relations. It would make a future outbreak of a world war far more likely.
Not to diminish the loss or sacrifice in any of our far too many wars, it is still important to note that the loss and sacrifice in a world war between major powers is on a vastly more deadly scale.
We have seen the endgame of nationalism. It was World War I and World War II. Undermining a NATO and Atlantic alliance that has prevented a world war for 70 years is not an example of “stable genius.” It is utter madness.
Withdrawal from the first step Paris Climate Accords will contribute to a devastating impact on everyone on Earth under the age of 40.
Economically, Donald Trump rode the “globalism is evil” populist bandwagon to the presidency, but his capricious 15th century tariffs (taxes American consumers will pay at Walmart, Home Depot, Harbor Freight, Costco, etc.) and his insults do absolutely nothing to create a 21st century economy compatible with the coming of mega-automation and climate change.
American agriculture has suffered gravely from Trump’s tariffs and especially from his foolish withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP. Markets that American Agriculture took in some cases decades to get in the door have already gone elsewhere and will be very hard to win back. Countries that stayed in the TPP bloc are ending tariffs on each other’s products, making American products, such as wheat, too expensive. The head of the U.S. Wheat Associates states that American wheat sales to Japan face “an imminent collapse.” Tariff-free Canadian and Australian wheat is cheaper.
In 2016, Trump ignorantly believed China was a member of the TPP. China was in fact the target of the TPP. It offered member countries unequalled leverage on China and as the largest economy in the TPP, the U.S. could have gained more labor and environmental and intellectual property concessions over time.
With bitter memories of past foreign economic domination and rapidly expanding foreign and domestic markets, expect China to be very resistant to Trump’s demands and look for this to become a long, destructive trade war.
China is a nuclear power. What World War II-era American leaders understood, but clearly the “extremely stable genius” is clueless about is that trade wars have never been easy to win and have a nasty habit of becoming shooting wars.
Trump’s insults and policies have isolated us and made us less influential, and less influence means less power. “America First” is America diminished.