A longtime US diplomat is worried that Donald Trump’s “America-first” foreign policy strategy could jeopardize the world order if it’s put into practice.
Ryan Crocker, a career US ambassador who has worked across the Middle East including as the ambassador to Syria, told Business Insider last week that an isolationist worldview could harm the US in the long run and “lead to a reordering or disordering of the rest of the world.”
“The entire post-World War II order is predicated on US global leadership,” Crocker said.
He added: “Can we fix everything in the world? Of course not. But unless you’re prepared to talk about a fundamental shift in the architecture of the international arena for the last 70 years, the US needs to lead.”
Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, has said that an “America-first” strategy would be “the major and overriding theme” of his administration.
“My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people, and American security, above all else,” Trump said in an April speech. “That will be the foundation of every decision that I will make.”
Crocker, who worked for both Democratic and Republican administrations spanning nearly 40 years, acknowledged that this could be “dangerous.”
“We are seeing the unravelling of the Middle East, with the US widely considered simply checked out,” Crocker said. “And you see it in Europe where the Europeans are reeling under the weight of the refugee crisis [and] are more badly divided than at any point since World War II — the Russians love it.”
Leaders within Russia, which has had frosty relations with the US under President Barack Obama, and North Korea, with which the US has no diplomatic relationship, have both praised Trump to varying degrees as he has indicated that he would shy away from America’s traditional alliances as president.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Trump is “a brighter person, talented without a doubt.” Trump, in turn, has said “an easing of tensions and improved relations with Russia, from a position of strength only, is possible.”
North Korean state media has praised Trump as “wise politician and presidential candidate with foresight,” noting that he would “solve problems by directly talking with North Korea.” Trump had said in a recent interview with Reuters that he would have “no problem” speaking to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
Trump has also said the NATO alliance is “obsolete,” insisted that US allies should contribute more to their own defence, and suggested that South Korea and Japan should be able to obtain their own nuclear weapons to defend themselves from threats.
“We have spent trillions of dollars over time — on planes, missiles, ships, equipment — building up our military to provide a strong defence for Europe and Asia,” Trump said in his April foreign-policy address outlining his worldview.
“The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defence — and, if not, the US must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves.”
While Trump has praised US involvement in World War II, saying that America “saved the world” in the 1940s by helping beat back the Nazis, his public pronouncements about America’s role in the world have had an isolationist tilt.
Crocker warned that such a worldview from an American leader could have long-term implications.
“America first? Well, there’d better be a serious conversation about what that entails,” Crocker said. “Because it’s going to lead to a reordering or disordering of the rest of the world. And the consequences of that may not be conducive to keeping America first in the long run.”
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