The Relationships Which Have Underpinned Our Prosperity and Safety Are Under Threat by Our President
June 11, 2018
Column by David Leonhardt—New York Times—6/11-2018
"The alliance between the United States and Western Europe has accomplished great things. It won two world wars in the first half of the 20th century. Then it expanded to include its former enemies and went on to win the Cold War, help spread democracy and build the highest living standards the world has ever known.
President Trump is trying to destroy that alliance.
Is that how he thinks about it? Who knows? It’s impossible to get inside his head and divine his strategic goals, if he even has long-term goals. But put it this way: If a president of the United States were to sketch out a secret, detailed plan to break up the Atlantic alliance, that plan would bear a striking resemblance to Trump’s behavior.
It would involve outward hostility to the leaders of Canada, Britain, France, Germany and Japan. Specifically, it would involve picking fights over artificial issues—not to win big concessions for the United States, but to create conflict for the sake of it.”
This is a horrible betrayal of the leadership the United States has provided over the last 70 years to make the world a more prosperous and safer place.
As Ben Steil writes in his book, The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War:
"Forty years after Dean Acheson’s observation in the second half of the 1940s on the need for Washington to have allies, its early Cold War alliances were still intact, while Moscow’s were in tatters. Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., had in October 1947 written to Vandenberg, who passed his words on to Marshall, that ‘the recovery of Western Europe [was] a twenty-five to fifty-year proposition and…the aid which we extend now and in the next three or four years will in the long future result in our having strong friends abroad.’ This insight was keen and important. Containment successfully navigated between appeasement and war for four decades, and the Marshall Plan played a principal role in bonding the West together for the struggle. Many of the institutions we now take for granted as natural elements of the liberal postwar order—in particular, the European Union, NATO, and the World Trade Organization—were forged under U.S. leadership during the early Marshall years.”
The U.S. must not abdicate the position of providing respectful, collaborative leadership for these organizations and treaties which have underpinned the relative prosperity and peace we have had since World War II. President Trump's behavior threatens to do just that by undermining the trust our allied leaders have in us. Our Congressional and other leaders must speak up. Life is all about relationships, and good relationships have to be based on trust. We never have nor will we ever always agree with our allies, but we have to treat them as we would want to be treated, with respect.