I’m not at all a fan of America playing the world’s policeman. We’ve done some good stuff, such as fighting the Axis and the Marshall Plan after WW II. We’ve also done a lot of crappy stuff: sending combat troops into Vietnam on false pretenses, overthrowing democratically elected governments, invading Iraq on false pretenses, drone strikes on innocent people. And supporters of America doing this simultaneously argue that it’s completely justified by self-interest (even nation on Earth looks out for Number One) and by exceptionalism (we’re America! We’re a force for good in the world!).
Not that I’m saying the U.S. is uniquely horrible. There’s no nation that doesn’t have a bloody history, it’s just that I don’t think that’s an excuse for not doing better. A little more caution about separating the sheep from the goats and then bombing the goats would be a good thing. That said, we do have legitimate interests in the world, and we do need to manage them. Carefully.
Too bad. As noted at the link, Trump political hacks are firing skilled career diplomats for doing things like mentioning Obama in a speech (our leader has such a fragile ego, have you noticed?) or criticizing Trump (one ambassador, Carla Sands, shut up a Trump critic speaking overseas, while also decrying supposed PC Speech Suppression on college campuses).
The loss of trained diplomats, the number of posts open, the lack of people applying, all these are bad for us. It’s not like our State Department hasn’t pulled its share of boners, but diplomacy is still important. Particularly when Trump pulling shit like backing out and leaving the Kurds on the Syria/Turkey border vulnerable to Turkish attack. Or pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal because Republicans just hate it (they’ve never gotten over the embassy occupation in 1979), plus Obama signed it (I really agree with the theory Trump can’t stand being reminded The Black Man was a better president). He’s demonstrating to everyone that we’re an unreliable, untrustworthy ally or partner. It’s great for Putin and for China to see the West in diplomatic disarray and to see us losing influence, bad for us. And, of course, it’s not like China or Russia are going to use their influence for good if they step up as superpowers.
Part of the problem is that a lot of Republicans really don’t care about diplomacy. They’d be happy if we just went and blew up everyone who pissed them off overseas, at least as long as they’re dark-skinned. That diplomats actually try to prevent wars is part of why they’re supposedly bad. A lot of conservatives want an American empire. Some were horrified (as noted at the link) by “the happy international situation that emerged in 1991 … characterized by the spread of democracy, free trade” instead of America going out, busting heads and imposing its will on the world. After all, they and their kids aren’t the ones who are going to fight and die to create American dominance.
The one way Republicans are kind of internationalist is that they’re cool with Trump forging ties with the far-right overseas. Which admittedly is nothing new, we’ve done business with tyrants for years. But it’s never been a good thing.
If America wanted to gradually withdraw from trying to shape the world, that might be a plus. But taking a chainsaw to international relations ain’t the way to go.