Trump embraces America First, gives the republic a chance to survive and its foes apoplexy

Trump’s 27 April 2016 speech on foreign policy is not perfect; indeed, parts of it merit strong criticism. But Trump has now said to the American people what no one, save Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul, has been willing to say since 1945. That is, the U.S. government exists for only two reasons: (a) to pursue and defend the republic’s genuine national security interests and to wage war only as a last resort, and then slay without mercy those who dared attack them, and (b) to protect and advance the well-being, jobs, liberties, unity, and prosperity of American citizens. In short, Trump seems to believe — as did the Founders — that if the U.S. national government does not make the furtherance of America’s interests its first and absolute priority, it has, to paraphrase Mr. Jefferson, no possible reason to exist, and its citizens, in turn, have every possible justification, and the unavoidable moral and legal responsibility to themselves and their posterity, to ruthlessly destroy it and replace it with one that can be relied on to always act only on their behalf and in their interests.

Now, we can all sit back and calmly listen to the howling condescension, rabid charges of racism and xenophobia, and loud blubbering about “abandoning America’s democratic values” that will be directed at Trump by the Neoconservatives, the internationalists, the media, the Israel Firsters, the Saudi and other Arab tyrants, the effete and freeloading Europeans, the theory-palsied Ivy Leaguers, the felons and felons-to-be, like Mr. and Mrs. Clinton, and the endless procession of thieves and murderers who masquerade as African and other Third World presidents and prime ministers.

As Trump faces the storm being brewed by these dregs of America and the world, I hope he feels no obligation to respond to the violent and denigrating attacks of his critics. The main obligation Trump now has is the quite onerous one he voluntarily assumed. That is, to never stop talking to his fellow citizens about his determination to prove that the absolute responsibility of their national government is to their well-being and the republic’s survival, peace, and prosperity, and that the welfare, political systems, religions, wars, civil rights, sexual inclinations, attitudes toward women, defense, and survival of foreign states and peoples are none of America’s concern and will never elicit its intervention.

Trump obliquely quoted John Quincy Adams in his speech, but should have quoted him directly and at bit of length. On 4 July 1821, Adams said, in the same speech that Trump drew from, that those who challenge or damn the idea of what is now known as “America First” should always remember that

America, with the same voice which spoke herself into existence as a nation, proclaimed to mankind the inextinguishable rights of human nature, and the only lawful foundations of government. America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity. She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights. She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart … Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.

This is the true meaning of “America First,” and it seems to be the meaning with which Mr. Trump intends to imbue the content of his foreign policy. I, for one, am eager for him succeed in this republic-preserving task. He will do so, however, only if he reeducates Americans about what and why the Founders intended the substance of U.S. foreign policy to be, and how well that policy of non-interventionism and neutrality served American interests for nearly a century and a half.

Mr. Trump, then, has a splendid if daunting opportunity to kindle the just barely burning flame of non-intervention and neutrality into a steady fire that will liberate America from its status as the world’s doormat; Americans from paying for the wars of others with their taxes and children’s lives; and the current citizenry and its posterity from the unnecessary interventionist wars that have made the office of the U.S. president into the home of spendthrift and civil liberty-negating tyrants.

Finally, God bless you, Mr. Buchanan and Dr. Paul, for making sure Mr. Trump had this opportunity, and God rest you, Colonel Lindbergh, for manfully opposing, at devastating personal cost, the same kinds of blackguard interventionists who are now attacking Mr. Trump’s foreign-policy stance.

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.