Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Donald Trump as the Isolationist in Chief... Not a Recipe for Success

As I’ve said before, if Donald Trump is the nominee I will vote for him over anyone the donkey party runs. Why? One reason… the single greatest threat to our nation is open borders and the continued entry of people from failed states with no understanding or appreciation for limited government or individual rights. The Democrat Party, which has a similar disdain for both things, has almost destroyed the country on its own and with open borders it seeks to tip the scales of our Republic towards their tyranny by packing the voting rolls with such invaders

The candidate who promises to build a wall and curtail illegal immigration gets my vote… and my hope that he will actually do so.

But I have to say, Trump continues to make it much more painful to be willing to support him. From his thin skin and childish Twitter tirades, it makes one wonder how temperamental a President Trump might be. Something more consequential that forces some soul searching when considering voting for him is his unserious perspective on international relations. When he says things about not sending money to countries that hate us, that makes pretty good sense and makes a great place to start with foreign aid. But he doesn’t stop there. There are two things that are particularly troubling about his foreign affairs perspective. His populist tirades against free trade, and his statement of two weeks ago that the United States should pull back from its leadership in NATO.

On the former, Trump cries that the United States is losing out on trade with China and Mexico and other nations around the world and that these countries are taking the jobs of millions of Americans. Both of those suggestions may indeed be accurate, but he is wrong in that they are a symptom, not the illness itself. The primary driver of those issues is not that Mexico or China are cheats. They may be manipulating their currencies or labor markets, but that’s not why American companies choose to build iPhones in China or cars in Mexico. It’s American taxes and regulations… Think about it, China is a Communist country separated from the US by 6,000 miles of water and Mexico is a dysfunctional quasi state where the politicians and population are perpetually intimidated by narco terrorists. And somehow it makes sense that a US company would want to manufacture widgets in those places rather than in Detroit or Pittsburgh? Yes. Sure, labor costs are a problem, but it’s regulations and taxes that are the real drivers of trade deficits. According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, federal regulations cost American consumers almost $2 trillion in lost economic productivity and higher costs in 2014. And that’s just the federal government! That $2 Trillion was almost four times the entire US trade deficit with the whole world that year! Add to that the fact that US tax rates are the highest in the developed world and that giant sucking sound of jobs you hear is not because of China or Mexico’s cheating, but rather because the US government is simply making it too difficult to operate profitably in the United States. If Trump wanted to make our trade balance more balanced and bring back jobs he’d focus on eliminating regulations here rather than spending most of his time demagoguing the rest of the world.

The bigger problem with Trump’s world view is his fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the United States in said world. Two weeks ago he suggested that the United States should take a step back in its leadership of NATO. We could do that and it would certainly save us billions of dollars a year. But it not only would it lead to a world war, but it would be the catalyst for a collapse of the world economy and western culture. Why? Because it was American military power, presence and a willingness to use both that has kept the west largely at peace for the last 70 years and driven a greater increase in world prosperity than in any period in all of human history.

To understand the impact of a United States led NATO, one simply has to look at the history of Europe. For two millennium, from the rise and fall of the Roman Empire to the rise and collapse of the British Empire, Europe was at an almost constant state of war either within itself or without, and often brought much of the rest of the planet along with it.  That reality culminated in the two world wars of the first half of the 20th century that cost the lives of over 100 million men women and children. Post WWII however, after the United States military brought order to a world in chaos, Europe and much of that world have enjoyed an unprecedented period of relative peace, and as a result saw wealth and prosperity grow and expand at levels unprecedented in human history.

None of that happens without a NATO led by the United States. It was NATO that kept the Russian bear at bay for half a century and American leadership in the Pacific that kept the Red Chinese from swallowing much of Asia. And as a result Europe and Asia have become critical trading partners with the United States and have provided both markets for our goods and sources for things that make our lives better.

And now Donald Trump wants to abandon NATO leadership. In the name of populist rhetoric he wants to turn his back on a successful world that the United States largely designed and benefits from. That would be a mistake. For our partners in NATO, for much of the world that relies on the west for leadership and trade, and, most of all, Americans. The solution to a troubled planet isn’t to pull up the drawbridges and hide behind the moat… But that seems to be the Donald’s plan.

It would be a tragedy if American leadership having already devolved from Ronald Reagan defeating the Soviet Union and winning the Cold War to Barack Obama embracing anti American thugs across the planet and unleashing ISIS on the world is followed up by Donald Trump reviving the isolationist policies of the 1930s that led to WWII… because with bellicose and acquisitive states like Russia and China unrestrained by American strength it would not be long before WWIII was at our shores.

But, such is the nature of populist candidates. Say and do anything that will get cheers from the crowds and ignore the consequences down the road. Let’s hope in November we have a Ted Cruz lever to pull

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