The effects on the G7 leaders may have looked like chaos, but in actuality Trump’s move to place America first jostled the other leaders’ priorities as well. Even Justin Trudeau and Angela Merkel both made remarks pointing at the fact that is just as true for their countries as Trump’s are for America: We need to take care of our own.
By treating the G7 members as bad business partners, Trump may have begun a process that will help them become much better business partners.
This is in contrast to the burgeoning model of “one-world globalism” that has gained so much ground in Europe and the West, where political niceties cover up bad deals and in some cases, corruption, that enriches state leaders and the powerful, while shutting out the citizenry.
The vision of “America first” is often misunderstood as “America’s way or no way” – or in other words, a continuation of an American foreign policy which has been hamfisted, stupid and wrong in many ways around the world.
And indeed, some policy decisions still appear to be hamfisted or at least ill-informed. For example, a recent report states that the US has resumed funding the “White Helmets” in Syria, a move that is largely seen as an horrific error. (This may be partially mitigatated by the fact that only a very limited amount of funding was made available to them, compared with how much was budgeted. Still the American consciousness is not accurate here.)
But Mr. Trump’s vision of America First extends to each nation-state in the world. In his address to the United Nations last year, he said as much, expressing his vision of the United Nations in this manner:
What we are seeing is the actualization of this. The means are startling to our culture that is inured in the notion that statism and non-prosperous globalism are the new normals. But for President Trump and those other two leaders (President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jiping), the world is a group of nation states, open for business and in competition for the best business.
The three great world powers are trying to align for this, but in a way that is perhaps different than in the past. President Trump’s vision aligns here with the visions of both the Russian and Chinese leaders, in that none of these men aspire for world leadership. Rather, they aspire to help their own countries prosper by doing good business – and this will help any participating nation to do the same.