The US is counting billions, not understanding these are pennies when compared to the possibilities. Non corrupt state administrations, the rule of law, transnational alliances based on shared values, peace and international order are the foundation of open markets, free trade, movement of capital and labour. They incite peaceful competition, lead to entrepreneurship and innovation and distribute prosperity in the long run. Both in the US and abroad, such fundamental values are diluted through the promised policies of victorious Trump. Besides going back on the fundamentals, free trade and economic unnationalistic schemes with new governing mechanisms are bound to be replaced by protectionist policies.
America has admitted defeat in the face of internationalism. It is an important switch of paradigm, unprecedented after the Second World War. Its role in the world has not been undermined by any external forces. The choice came from within. The significant shift led by President Trump’s administration is to pull the country from what it made possible to happen: free economic order in exchange for what seems to be pragmatic immediate gain. A defining trait for Trump, the business man. The US would also no longer be working to stay ahead with the set-up of a common ground where like-mind countries could play cooperative economic games (through economic agreements such as the TTIP or TPP) or backing out of those which already proved their worth (NAFTA). But the void this withdrawal leaves behind is not destined to remain a void. One option is replacement by regional hegemons. Eastern Europe has an economically ailing neighbour that awaits the possibility to jump in. Coercion, much less than cooperation would be the Russian Federation favourite negotiation pattern.
A navel-gazing US, cut off from the world’s teething troubles, ran by representatives of an affluent economic elite could hardly be the backbone of a Great America. Surely, there is little newness in the underlying rhetoric coming from the US that claims it wants to stay out of the world’s problems but constantly seems sucked back in. And it didn’t start with one man. But this one single man accentuates the US withdrawal in all the wrong ways, at a fast pace, seemingly uncaring about what it leaves behind. Fingers crossed we got this wrong. Political realism may seem good for “America only” now and make smaller economies with troubled democracy shutter at the thought, but it could have a more serious backlash for all in the long run.