By Michael Bryan
Charles De Gaulle famously said, “Nations have no friends, only interests.” Trump should listen, as he seems to have no idea that the United States has permanent interests beyond his whims. That is to say, Trump seems to believe that the interests of the United States consist only in him making “friends” with our foes, and declaring our traditional allies over historical time-scales to be ‘foes’.
Just because Trump likes Vladi Putin and Kimmy Jong Un does not change the fact that the interest of the United States consists in marginalizing and degrading the power of these dictatorial regimes, not celebrating them nor aligning with them. Our interests cannot be aligned with theirs. They are our foes for good reasons, not because past Presidents were insufficiently nice to them.
Why is it in our interest to resist the policy goals of nations like Russia and North Korea, you might ask? To begin with, they are international pariahs who murder people to maintain their power. If that weren’t enough, their national aspirations directly conflict with long-term American allies whose interests ARE aligned with our own, such as the NATO member states, the wider EU, and South Korea. If that STILL were not enough, they are economically insignificant as potential economic partners to the United States. North Korea has the GDP of a mid-sized American city, at best. Russia is a petro-state with an economy the size of Italy, but which lacks the dynamism of an Italy due to endemic corruption: Russia is basically a nuclear-armed organized crime syndicate in control of a mid-tier economy of mostly impoverished people. All that Russia has to offer is carbon energy at a time when carbon energy is in decline and the United States is largely self-sufficient in carbon energy. Plus, they attacked us and influenced our elections; they are no ‘friends’ of ours.
I am not some genius who solely can see this. Many, many Americans can and do recognize that the President is acting foolishly and embarrassing our nation before the entire world. Though many members of Congress understand this, only Democrats will act openly to oppose Trump’s follies. The Constitution makes the President the conductor of American foreign policy with the power to negotiate treaties and appoint ambassadors, but only with the concurrence of the Senate. Just as any symphony conductor would be turfed off the stage if he began to deviate too far from the sheet music, a President needs to be checked strongly if he begins to conduct foreign policy based on his own friendships and interests, and not those of the nation he serves.
President Trump has proven again and again that he is unable to recognize and operationalize the interests of the nation he serves. Congress is the only organization that can check and correct him. If they won’t do that job, then they must be replaced with a Congress that will exercise that oversight.
Don’t kid yourself. Even if you are a Republican, you must recognize that the Republican party is now acting merely as the party of Trump. A Republican-led Congress will not contain this President. The only way to contain this reckless and vain President is a vigorous oppositional Congress. Vote Democratic this year in all your Congressional races or our nation’s interests will suffer. I hope that enough of you are patriots able to recognize what has to be done.