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President Trump's "America First" Foreign Policy Is "Moral Realism"

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on March 26, 2019 14:55

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Dr. Michael Bender, a political analyst and Marshall Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, believes critics of President Trump's "America First" foreign policy fundamentally misconstrue his approach to international relations, which is based upon principles of "Moral Realism."

Dr. Michael Bender, Heritage Foundation Marshall Fellow

Is President Trump a loose cannon, bringing the world dangerously close to nuclear war by pursuing wild and crazy foreign policies without any basis in international relations theory?

Do the President's tweets, personal diplomacy, bombastic negotiating style, and aggressive deal-making threaten world order and endanger global norms and values?

Or, is there method to his purported madness, rooted in the history of diplomacy, international relations, and America's traditional relationships with other world powers since 1776?

Dr. Michael Bender, a political analyst and current George C Marshall Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, believes those who condemn President Donald Trump's "America First" policy as jingoism, isolationism, or chauvinism fundamentally misconstrue the administration's approach to international relations.

Contrary to opportunism or American Imperialism, Dr. Bender instead looks at President Trump’s America First policy through the lens of "Moral Realism": steering the ship of state, led by self-interested behavior, through the storms of anarchic international power-struggles while simultaneously fulfilling a "Moral Imperative" that includes commitment to international order, stability and freedom from domination.

In a spirit reminiscent of the Reagan administration's "Peace Through Strength" policy in defeating the USSR, the current Administration’s policy is viewed in light of a series of mistaken strategies by previous American Presidents which failed to build peace and prosperity.

President George H.W. Bush's "Unipolar Moment" led to frustration in Iraq and the rise of Osama Bin Laden's declaration that "Islam will prevail."

President Bill Clinton's "End of History" enshrining a "Right to Protect" was not to be, nor was President George W. Bush's "Global War on Terror" successful in "Democracy-Building."

President Barack Obama's restrained foreign policy and pivot to Asia, considered by some "Multilateral Realism," likewise failed to restrain Islamic terrorism, China, Russia or others.

With nothing left to lose, President Trump's "America First" policy adapts the best aspects of President Reagan's approach to contemporary problems left unresolved until now.

Conceptualizing "Moral Realism" through an America First policy entails recognition that "America's best interests are, at the same time, what is objectively best for the world in terms of peace, order and stability," says Dr. Bender. "There are winners and losers in the international system. States look out for themselves because nobody else will; it is ultimately a self-help international system. Self-interested action, however, need not necessarily preclude ‘good’ or utilitarian behavior; these are not always exclusive from one another, even in a realist world."

A successful "America First" policy envisioned through the lens of "Moral Realism" ultimately seeks to bring about another "Pax Americana," and is consistent with American actions since the establishment of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823.

The concept of "Moral Realism" explains the Trump Doctrine in international affairs, and Dr. Bender deserves credit for making clear to scholars of political science and international relations what ordinary American citizens with common sense have known since they voted for President Trump in 2016: "Making America Great Again" will make the world great again, too.

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on March 26, 2019 14:55

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Source: NJ News 12

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