Much is being made of President Donald J. Trump’s behavior at the G7 meeting in Canada. Most of the media coverage - most of the spin - is on the attack. They don’t like that Trump spoke brusquely to our allies. They don’t like him picking an economic fight with an ally, seeing it as tantamount to treason (even though the security relationship remains strong). They don’t like seeing an American leader lead.
If the world - Europe, especially, as well as Canada - wants to see American leadership, then is it too much to ask that they let us lead in our own way? A leader, after all, is not truly a “leader” without “followers.” Too often, though, the world wants to take advantage of American power and influence while at the same time rejecting American ideals, principles, and guidelines. They want benefits, not obligations.
Western Europe was spoiled by Barack Obama’s time in office. For eight years, they saw a man in D.C. after their own hearts. How refreshing it must have been, after eight years of the likes of Bush and Cheney. How comforting that POTUS 44 was, in some sense, only superficially “American”; like Obama, they thought that America had much to be ashamed of and apologize for...like, for instance, being American.
Obama’s philosophy was to “lead from behind,” with the end result being that nothing much was done. Nothing much was done when the Syrian Civil War broke out. Nothing much was done about the rise of that infamous “JV team,” a.k.a. ISIS. Nothing much was done when Assad used chemical weapons on his own people. Nothing much was done when Russia marched into Crimea (and, yes, Obama let it happen).
Then Donald Trump comes along like a wrecking ball, seeking at every turn to undo Obama’s legacy. Democrats and Europeans take umbrage at the idea that a new President might break with the habits and policies of the old; they took the past for granted, making the same mistake with Obama that some warn Israel’s Netanyahu is making: Hitching oneself to a star that, constitutionally, must one day burn out.
But for the time being, Trump is in office...and is brashly American. He picks a fight with friend and foe alike; he shoots (tweets) first from the hip (with his phone), and asks questions (is asked pointed questions) later. Europeans haven’t seen his like emerge from America for a century or so; neither, for that matter, have Americans. Trump is upending the world of the old, using the tools of the new. How...us!
It causes fights, sure. I don’t think clashing with our allies continually is all that healthy, but...no pain, no gain. The Iran Deal was a shitty deal, so shitty that Obama didn’t even follow the constitutional procedure and seek advice and consent from the Senate. Trade deals and arrangements that don’t mesh with Trump’s business sense deserve to go, in his mind. He wants to run America like a business.
And before you say, “America isn’t a business,” consider: Isn’t it? Didn’t historical figures say, “The business of America is business”? Doesn’t the Government constantly seek money? I mean, why have an Internal Revenue Service if you’re not planning on generating any revenue? Like all countries, America is a for-profit enterprise. Is it wrong to maximize our profits, and even the playing field? No.
Liberals point to Trump’s comments about Russia at the G7 meeting in Canada, seeing a wedge being driven between us and our friends. They see Donald Trump’s openness to Moscow as nefarious, rather than pragmatic. They’ve never accepted that Donald Trump’s victory was legitimate; I wouldn’t be surprised if liberals believe Hillary was forced by Putin into not visiting Wisconsin for seven months up to Election Day 2016.
How is it that they cannot see that it is not just Putin who might revel in discord between Trump and our allies, but also millions of Americans? In their eyes, Trump promised to speak truth to power. In their minds, “power” meant those who may mean well, but don’t think too well of the traditional American way of doing things, whether at home or abroad - including many Democrats, and some of our closest allies.
This is what we elected Trump to do: To shake things up. To rattle the nerves of those who take advantage of our power and friendship. To restore a sense of sovereignty, in order to balance out the sacrifices made to globalization. To call a spade a spade, rather than a spoon. Like it or not, Trump’s acting the way he’s acting because those responsible for garnering him 307 electoral votes wanted him to. We expected him to.
If our allies want us to lead, then they should let us lead. Of course there will be disagreements, but guess what? There have always been disagreements. The next American President, whether Republican or Democrat, male or female, liberal or conservative, black or white or Asian, will certainly have his or her own way of disagreeing with allies. This is Trump’s way. Deal with it.
It might be rude, but after decades of polite dishonesty between nations, it’s also a bit refreshing to hear someone speak so bluntly to other world leaders. They love to lecture us, admonishing us for this or that policy or action. And, they’re more or less used to receptive ears from the Left. In any case, this is Trump’s style, and since he’s the President of the United States, that means it is also America’s style.
For the time being, if you want us to lead, then let us lead.
And it should always be that way: If you want American leadership, let us lead.
Don’t try to lead us by the nose.