Count me as one who thinks President Trump had a good trip to the Middle East and Europe last month. It certainly was a big improvement over President Obama’s inaugural “apology tour” and, contrary to many reports of European leaders who remark privately about the dysfunction of Trump’s impulsive decision-making habits and his often contradictory tweets, I believe that the key European leaders appreciate his candor.
His most important stop was in Brussels for the NATO speech and this is where I think he made a big mistake in not explicitly endorsing Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, which states that an attack on one ally is an attack on all. There are reports that he removed such a line in his speech at the behest of Steve Bannon. I hope this is not the case, because U. S. support of this provision is absolutely critical to Western foreign policy cohesion. But unlike Bill Galston, I am not ready to completely dismiss his worldview as one that would not have endorsed the Marshall Plan! I’m willing to give him a break and watch his actions relative to Article 5.
I also don’t concern myself with Trump’s nationalism as much as many do. In a follow up statement to the tour, the phrase “the world is not a global community” again received negative reaction from Galston, as though Trump is committed to the Hobbesian transactional worldview of a conflict of all against all. If withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement is an example, let’s have more decisions like it.
The fact is, as Walter Russell Mead notes, “nationalist should not be a dirty word”. And “the U. S. must be simultaneously a nationalist power, focused on the prosperity and security of its own people, and a globalist power working to secure the foundations of international order that Americans need”. I don’t yet see the evidence that President Trump would disagree.