James Politi and Lauren Fedor rightly identify that Donald Trump and Nikki Haley represent two opposing visions of America’s international role, but therein lies a fundamental challenge to the Grand Old’s post-Covid approach to world affairs. Party (“Candidates offer conflicting visions on foreign policy,” Report, January 23).
For all their differences, “isolationist” and “internationalist” Republicans view global engagement primarily through the lens of security rather than economic and trade relations.
Trump has been rightly criticized for his unilateral approach and weakening of multilateralism. Yet while many internationalists profess support for multilateral institutions, this support often extends only to the extent to which these policies further narrowly defined national interests.
A more authentic spirit of multilateralism requires a sense of fair play and respect for international law and organizations, even when individual decisions by institutions like the World Trade Organization might go against the United States. Unfortunately, a genuine commitment to international law and multilateralism – as more easily found in other advanced economies like France, Germany and Japan – appears increasingly rare among American internationalists and isolationists .
A more multilateralist and prudent approach, prioritizing U.S. economic and trade relations, would allow the United States to benefit from economic growth in new markets without becoming entangled in unnecessary conflicts.
Although global economic and geopolitical circumstances may ultimately determine the precise foreign policy to pursue at any given moment, American voters deserve better than the simple binary choice of protectionism and military adventurism abroad.
Director of Technology Policy and Senior Fellow, National Taxpayers Union Foundation, Washington, DC, USA