Leaders see the light on “America First”
After belittling President Donald Trump’s “America first” economic policies as hopelessly out of step with globalism, some foreign leaders have seen the light. Now, they admit they understand Trump’s reasoning.
One wonders how much public opinion in their own countries had to do with their changes of heart. Many of their constituents may have asked what on earth is wrong with worrying first about one’s own people.
Trump went to an international economic summit in Davos, Switzerland, last week, to explain his policies to both business people and political leaders from throughout the world. As his jetliner was winging its way over the Atlantic, some of them were changing their rhetoric. Now, they worry aloud that, in the words of Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Trump’s philosophy will upset “the framework of the international trade relations … that have been demonstrated to be so useful for growth” globally.
Indeed, that is a concern. Trump should be careful not to take action — a tariff war, for example — that could backfire and be detrimental to U.S. workers and consumers.
But if cynics such as Gentiloni really are referring to trade deals that harm Americans and are not complied with fully by our trading competitors, he is out of luck. Too often in the past, U.S. leaders have worried more about our image abroad than about American workers.
Trump’s insistence those days are at an end is entirely appropriate. He should not back away from the idea.