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The American Interest

Trump’s Doctrinal Problem

President Donald Trump’s speech to the U.N. General Assembly on September 25 was met with audible disrespect from some of the assembled globalist cognoscenti (representatives of many barbarous regimes included), and with blind hostility from the media and commentariat.  This was unsurprising, because the opening segment of his half-hour address sounded like the summary of a sound, conservative foreign-policy doctrine.

“We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism around the world,” Trump declared.  Responsible nations must defend themselves against threats to their sovereignty from all forms of coercion and domination:

I honor every nation to pursue its own customs, beliefs and traditions.  The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship.  We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return. . . . Migration should not be governed by an international body, unaccountable to our own citizens. . . . Virtually everywhere socialism or communism has been tried, it has produced suffering, corruption, and decay.

So far, so splendid.  Trump’s words contained the doctrinal outline of a grand strategy based on enlightened self-interest, with the United States finally returning to her traditional pre-1941 role—ingloriously interrupted by Woodrow Wilson at Versailles in 1919—as a power...

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