What does the economic nationalist agenda of “Trumplomacy” means for US Foreign Policy?

Source/Credit: BBC News 2017. GETTY IMAGES. ~ Trump with Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince

Opinion|Analysis Politics | Domestic & Foreign Policy: 

By Jenkins Macedo | June 10, 2017 | 08:50 PM

As a nation, we have reached a pivotal point in our history since President Trump took office as the 45th President of the United States. Everything we know about democracy, diplomacy, national security, and foreign policy are sandwiched in an unpredictable president. He keeps his fellow citizens at the edge thinking “what he’s going to do next?” His tweets and retaliatory posts on social media keep their blood flowing curious and eager about whom he’s going to blame next or what his next unpredictable actions would be? One can fairly say that this theatrical drama and his undisputed use of social media is, in fact, part of his overall scheme to mislead the American populace.

Overall, the Trump’s presidency has not had a good start and it is highly likely that this administration will not have a happy ending either before the next presidential elections or sooner. It is highly predictable that the American populace will continue to be entertained with what seems to be the largest reality show being staged until the next elections and the events of today will form a critical part of the electoral processes in November 2020. But for now, we will continue to be massaged by Tweets and “Covfefe” from the White House and who knows maybe he might likely response to this article, which will be highly welcomed.

On February 23, 2015, the White House Chief Strategist Stephen K. Bannon and the White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), during which Bannon said the US Media is “adamantly opposed to” the president’s economic nationalist agenda accusing the media as the main opposition to the Trump’s administration. Bannon emphatically stated that the Trump’s administration is at war with the media and the relationships between this presidency and the corporatist media is not going to get better over time the relationship will get worse. And to be frank, this is happening and it is only happening because of it is part of their plan. It worked during the campaign and it seems to be working during the early phase of his administration.

In that brief interview broadcasted on CNN, Bannon along with Priebus outlined the so-called economic nationalist agenda of the Trump’s presidency in which he (Bannon) highlighted the three pillars of the President’s strategic plan to include national security and sovereignty, economic nationalism, and lastly the deconstruction of the administrative state. To these three pillars of Trump’s economic nationalist agenda, Bannon mentioned that the Trump’s administration will continue to fight with the corporatist globalist media and that fight will get worse each day. This new political order according to Bannon and Priebus is meant to bring economic prosperity to America through the creation of “high paid” jobs. Bannon noted that this will also involve the United States regaining its sovereignty as a nation. It is all going to be America First. It is all going to be to “Make America Great Again” – a campaign promise that Trump used to sweep his way to the White House defeating Hillary Clinton.

Will pulling the US out of several multilateral agreements bring economic prosperity? Can economic nationalism be achieved without pulling the US out of major global treaties making us look and appear like idiots? We are a nation with an economy but should that be an economy with an isolated nation? Can we be a nation that promotes economic nationalism without closing our borders? Trump’s family claims he has a desire to protect the environment but his actions so far distance from their perceptions of what they think he is. There are no “alternative facts” to climate science.

Let us briefly discuss the three so-called pillars of Trump’s economic nationalism agenda and see how that impact our foreign policy.

1.     National Security and Sovereignty

There is no question about the importance of both national security and sovereignty. In fact, these two aspects are interrelated and very critical to the very existence of the nation-state. With the rise of extremism and terrorism here and abroad, Trump’s views on immigration and foreign policy seem to be widely informed by what he’s presented by the US media. His executive orders especially the 90 days suspension of admission of refugees and other immigrants from mostly Muslims-dominated countries in North Africa and the Middle East were entirely unguided by sound critical judgment and lacks the constitutional support.

The issuance of executive orders to ban immigrants including refugees from certain countries without seeking experts’ advice undermined the credibility of the national security he sought to ensure and protect. The idea to take precautionary measures to ensure that national security of all Americans is protected is our constitutional right. However, the manner in which the President orchestrated the so-called ban on immigrants and refugees from mostly Muslim-dominated countries contributed entirely to his failure to garnered national support from the American populace including its legal systems and the very constitutional basis of the President’s executive orders on immigrants and refugees. You cannot ensure our sovereignty as a nation without ensuring national security because both are intertwined.

This does not mean establishing discriminatory tendencies that would foster and promote disunity, factionalism, and the abuse of human rights. We can engage in multilateral and bilateral trade without infringing on our national security and sovereignty. It has worked in the past and there is no reason it can’t work today. The idea to withdraw the US from major treaties and agreements in hope of redefining our positions at the negotiation tables with other nations and partners when it comes to trade, national security, and sovereignty undermine the very basis of our national heritage as a nation of immigrants. America is a country that respects freedom, justice, liberty, and the rule of Law. Trump’s stands to make America great again by simply renegotiating trade terms that solely meet our conditions and criteria demonstrate to the rest of the world who we are as a nation.

For years, the US has played and continue to play several different roles when it comes to the international stage in the areas of protecting our national security interests abroad. The roles we play abroad with our allies changed in relations to the political landscapes at home. At some point, we played the role as an imperialist state demonstrated by our powerful diplomatic relations and the signatures of our military industrial complex – the appetite and willingness to use military force in instances where the powerhouse of our diplomatic envoys failed to yield favorable results in the name of our national security interests.

With this in mind, we intervened in other countries as both the judge and the executioner of justice and indirectly imposing our protectionist and interventionist mentality in an effort to influence their political and economic systems for the sole purpose of enhancing our national security interests. Has the “America First” economic nationalist doctrine that paved the way for Trump to enter the White House made any significant change about how the world view us?

2.     Economic Nationalism

What is economic nationalism really? Is economic nationalism really an economic theory or a political theory meant to cast the blames of our economic failures and shortcomings on foreigners and other countries? Trumpononics is an emerging unconventional term that linked to the current economic nationalism platform of the Trump’s administration and its attitude and approach towards existing and future foreign trade and international treaties and agreements. The Trump’s administration seems to be confused when it comes to the definition of trade. The question that needs to be asked is that in the modern global economy one can argue that countries don’t trade, but rather individuals, businesses, and entities within those countries are the ones that trade. The main reason for this is that governments do not have the capacity and ability to “balance” trade between other countries. Trump argued during both the GOP presidential primaries and the general elections that trade agreements between the US and other nations were “unfair and unbalanced.” He claims that the unfair and unbalance negotiations done in the past administrations had led to the economic disparities in the US and was costing Americans big time.

He cited deals with China, India, Mexico and a bunch of other nations including Canada and the European Union are “very bad, unfair, and unbalanced.” The President even cited trade deficits as an indicator of economic prosperity, but the economists seem to disagree with him. This is because over and over again our trade deficits were lower during periods of economic recession plus the US trade deficit is offset by investments surplus which is directly linked to our ability to attract foreign investors. Adam Smith author of the Wealth of Nations, noted that “nothing, however, can be more absurd than this whole doctrine of the balance of trade, upon which, not only these restraints but almost all the other regulations of commerce are founded.”

Trump has also misunderstood and incorrectly framed international trade as the single most important attribute for the exportation of manufacturing jobs from the US to China and India. A study conducted at the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University in 2017 indicates that about 85% of manufacturing job losses were attributed to technological change. As noted by Adam Smith, the attempt to balance trade between nations will likely result in trade wars because it is impossible. Good luck trying to make trade equal across the board.

The rapid and sudden withdrawal of the US from international trade will not only impact the global economy but will significantly disrupt the US economy and even worse when the current government lacks strategic focus and operational objectives, which will also make the US marketplace and investment favorability less attractive to current and potentials businesses and entities. The use of domestic immigration policies and reforms to restrict the number of immigrants that come to this country is also being used to propagate the economic nationalist tendencies within the US Senate, which argues that immigration harms the current US labor forced because bringing people in this country via our immigration system increases the supply of labor.

Personally, I failed to comprehend the argument that the Trump’s administration is making against immigration because immigration is an integral component of economic growth which is enshrined in our 300 years history as a nation of immigrants. The use of protectionism as a mechanism of economic nationalism is not only a backward gear that Trump is putting this country into, but could be used to promote racial discriminatory policies for the sole purpose of enriching Wall Street Corporatist Banks and the 1%, while everyone else gets left at the margins of societal mayhem.

Along the lines of the US foreign policy, economic nationalism will cause significant disruption to our current allies and global partners which will effectively serve as a barrier for future military and non-military corporations within the global north and south. Trade with other nations especially those involved with companies and businesses that are based in the US will be more challenging and complex and could lead to the collapse of small businesses that outsource workforce. US companies and entities with offices abroad will be impacted by harsh economic constraints and challenges which would, in turn, affect their operations abroad. While some may consider this an opportunity for those companies to relocate to the US and extend their operations at home, their international market landscape would be severely impacted due to Trump’s economic policy.

3.     Destruction of the administrative state

Trump’s appointments of his cabinet members speak more into how he intends to deconstruct the administrative state by appointing individuals with no background and experience relevant to the offices appointed to in addition to their disposition when it comes to major issues relevant to their appointed offices. Trump’s strategic positions on national defense and security are well funded, however, at the expense of other equally important issues such as climate change, international trade, etc. It is interesting that he prioritized national security, but in the same token fails to comprehend that climate change is just not a global security threat, but also a national security issue. When a US coastal city is swept away as a result of rising sea levels and terrestrial coastal storms – maybe he will realize that climate security is a paramount component of national security.

The Trump’s administration statement is clear. Yes, I am your president, but I don’t care about what you think and how you feel as long as I keep pleasing my supporters by staging “campaign-like” speeches to reassure them that he is the president of the United States but only for those who supported him. It is one thing to run for the office of president of the United States as a candidate for a political establishment and it is a completely different ball game when you get elected. I don’t think Trump has reached the point where he realizes he’s not just President who is a so-called Republican but is indeed the President of the United States of America.