Gideon Rachman on US isolationism FT Comment

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“America retreating from the world stage if the mood music from the campaign s of of the us. Presidential frontrunner is anything to go by then that would seem to the case i m joined by gideon rachman the ft s chief foreign affairs commentator to discuss this gideon you ve just been in the us and you ve written this week. About this sense of isolationism is now back in america. We ve had it in the past.

But is that the case and if so why well i think that certainly if you look at the campaign s run by donald trump who looks like he may well win the republican nomination and by bernie sanders. Who won the democratic primary in new hampshire. They re often seen as ideological opposites trump on the far right sanders and the far left. But in fact on foreign policy and on trade their strikingly similar.

So that on trade they d both world to repudiate a lot of the international trade agreements that the us has signed saying that they ve been proved to be very bad for american workers and on foreign policy. Trump sounds very militaristic. He says. He will rebuild the us military that he ll do more bombing in the middle east and so on.


But actually his attitude to security relationships seems to be to pull back from a lot of america s alliances to do less in the world. And sanders takes the classic left wing position. Which is that america should not be the world s policeman. And i think it s an interest in context because we re already at a phase.

Where president obama is one nightly accused in the rest of the world of having pooled america back from its global commitments of being in some way responsible for the chaos in the middle east. Because america is not getting in there to sort it out. But i d argue that actually obama compared to the frontrunners in the presidential election campaign is really an internationalist compared to what may come soon. And is this is their message are their respective messages resonating with voters do you sense yes.

I think clearly they ve struck a chord and i think it s because it relates to this sense that you get a lot amongst. A lot of american voters that they re unhappy with the way. The country is going if you look at these famous right track ron drag thing something like seventy percent of americans. Think.


America is on the wrong track and the main domestic issue is economic insecurity and income inequality and trump and sanders have link that to trade and said that you know that america has somehow been sort of you know mishandled by its trading partners. Trump. Says for example that he will somehow make sure that in future americans buy american cars an american machinery not japanese and south korean machinery now thats straight protectionism and in the same way. Sanders has said free trade has been an unadulterated disaster for the american worker and the other element is the security element.

The disillusionment with foreign wars. Which really stems from the iraq and afghan wars and obama in some senses already reflected that he ran as an anti war candidate. He s been markedly reluctant to get america involved in more military campaigns around the world but trump and sanders both say well he s already you know doing too much why don t our allies do more for themselves. How will this affect then the other candidates and i mean will they have to overhead the likes of hillary clinton have to sort of adjust their message on foreign policy to reflect that well i think they already are to a degree.

So that hillary for example when she was secretary of state was a big backer of the trans pacific partnership. Which is a huge new trade initiative with with asia new free trade agreement. She s now on the campaign trail come out against it not all the candidates. However attacking i mean.


I think marco rubio. If it ends up as being trump versus rubio. Which some people think it will be for the republican nomination. Rubio has a more traditional if you might call neoconservative your foreign policy which stresses the need for american engagement and more military spending.

But actually using that kind of power. You know almost george w. Bush like style. So that would be quite an interest in contrast with with trump and that s for hillary.

Although. I think she is tacking for campaign purposes. I suspect if she got into office. She would be actually a little bit more assertive than obama has been outside the us should.


We people well should people be braced for an america. That is slightly a bit more isolationist or has pulled back a little bit look it depends very much who wins. I think if he wins then probably not i think if you know trump or sanders. Although that still feels like an outside chance if they were to get in then all bets are off beyond that there is a long term thing.

It s pushing america towards. What you might call a slightly more isolationist approach. Which is that the us economy is no longer quite as dominant in the global economy and america has discovered that although it still has the world s largest military by a long way and the most sophisticated military that winning wars in the military phase. Doesn t actually buy the stability that they want that was seems to be one of the lessons of iraq and afghanistan and i said so i think those economic and security forces are pushing america towards a more restrained role in the world.

More or less regardless of who wins in the white house getting rahman. ” ..

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