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The Nationalism Versus Globalism Battles Yet to Come

At the G-7 summit in Canada, President Donald Trump described America as “the piggy bank that everybody is robbing.”

After he left Quebec, his director of Trade and Industrial Policy, Peter Navarro, added a few parting words for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door. …And that’s…what weak, dishonest Justin Trudeau did. And that comes right from Air Force One.”

In Singapore, Trump tweeted more about that piggy bank: “Why should I, as President of the United States, allow countries to continue to make Massive Trade Surpluses, as they have for decades…[while] the U.S. pays close to the entire cost of NATO-protecting many of these same countries that rip us off on Trade?”

To understand what drives Trump, and explains his exasperation and anger, these remarks are a good place to begin.

Our elites see America as an “indispensable nation,” the premiere world power whose ordained duty it is to defend democracy, stand up to dictators and aggressors, and uphold a liberal world order.

They see U.S. wealth and power as splendid tools that fate has given them to shape the future of the planet.

Trump sees America as a nation being milked by allies who free-ride on our defense efforts as they engage in trade practices that enrich their own peoples at America’s expense.

Where our elites live to play masters of the universe, Trump sees a world laughing behind America’s back, while allies exploit our magnanimity and idealism for their own national ends.


The numbers are impossible to refute and hard to explain.

Last year, the EU had a $151 billion trade surplus with the U.S. China ran a $376 billion trade surplus with the U.S., the largest in history. The world sold us $796 billion more in goods than we sold to the world.

A nation that spends more than it takes in from taxes, and consumes more of the world’s goods than it produces itself for export, year in and year out, is a nation on the way down.

We are emulating our British cousins of the 19th century.

Trump understands that this situation is not sustainable. His strength is that the people are still with him on putting America first.

Yet he faces some serious obstacles.

What is his strategy for turning a $796 billion trade deficit into a surplus? Is he prepared to impose the tariffs and import restrictions that would be required to turn America from the greatest trade-deficit nation in history to a trade-surplus nation, as we were up until the mid-1970s?

Americans are indeed carrying the lion’s share of the load of the defense of the West, and of fighting the terrorists and radical Islamists of the Middle East, and of protecting South Korea and Japan.

But if our NATO and Asian allies refuse to make the increases in defense he demands, is Trump really willing to cancel our treaty commitments, walk away from our war guarantees, and let these nations face Russia and China on their own? Could he cut that umbilical cord?

Ike’s secretary of state John Foster Dulles spoke of conducting an “agonizing reappraisal” of U.S. commitments to defend NATO allies if they did not contribute more money and troops.

Dulles died in 1959, and that reappraisal, threatened 60 years ago, never happened. Indeed, when the Cold War ended, our NATO allies cut defense spending again. Yet we are still subsidizing NATO in Europe and have taken on even more allies since the Soviet Empire fell.

If Europe refuses to invest the money in defense that Trump demands, or accept the tariffs America needs to reduce and erase its trade deficits, what does he do? Is he prepared to shut U.S. bases and pull U.S. troops out of the Baltic republics, Poland, and Germany, and let the Europeans face Vladimir Putin and Russia themselves?

This is not an academic question. For the crunch that was inevitable when Trump was elected seems at hand.

Trump promised to negotiate with Putin and improve relations with Russia. He promised to force our NATO allies to undertake more of their own defense. He pledged to get out and stay out of Mideast wars and begin to slash the trade deficits that we have run with the world.

That’s what America voted for.

Now, after 500 days, he faces formidable opposition to these defining goals of his campaign, even within his own party.

Putin remains a pariah on Capitol Hill. Our allies are rejecting the tariffs Trump has imposed and threatening retaliation. Free-trade Republicans reject tariffs that might raise the cost of the items U.S. companies make abroad and then ships back to the United States.

The decisive battles between Trumpian nationalism and globalism remain ahead of us. Trump’s critical tests have yet to come.

And our exasperated president senses this.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.

22 Comments (Open | Close)

22 Comments To "The Nationalism Versus Globalism Battles Yet to Come"

#1 Comment By Lenny On June 12, 2018 @ 12:52 am

Trump hates the West

He loves Putin and every other dictator and wishes he could become one

And you sir, are cheering him on

What a shame

#2 Comment By Bradley On June 12, 2018 @ 6:10 am

America spends 3 times as much on defense as its allies because it is addicted to military spending. The solution is not to pressure other countries to acquire the same addiction. The solution is for America cut its own military spending.

This is just another example of America trying to “export” its domestic issues. Quit blaming foreigners and deal with your issues.

#3 Comment By Joe the Plutocrat On June 12, 2018 @ 6:58 am

“A nation that spends more than it takes in from taxes, and consumes more of the world’s goods than it produces itself for export, year in and year out, is a nation on the way down. We are emulating our British cousins of the 19th century.” never imagined I’d say this, but you are absolutely correct. of course you neglect to acknowledge, Trump himself is an “elite” and a “globalist”. the fact his “game” is real estate, as opposed to governance is more of a semantic distinction than ideological. debt-fueled consumerism drives real estate just as it drives globalism. this is nothing new. add to this the pathological narcissism and the ability to leverage moral bankruptcy as he has the tax codes and bankruptcy laws, and voila, just another globalist in populist clothing. as I have maintained all along, he is not so much anti-establishment as he is an establishment of one – he simply thrives in a different type of swamp and favors a smaller oligarchy/plutocracy. and of course, there is the big news out of Singapore/Korea, but again, much of the ‘spin’ or upside cited in a denuclearized Korean peninsula involves the opportunity for North Korea to join the globalists at the globalists’ table. one can only wonder if there will be Ivanka’s handbags will be made in Panmunjom, and if Kim Jong Un will stay at the Trump hotel in DC? either way, you are correct he is the candidate the American people, and the globalists “elected”.

#4 Comment By JonF On June 12, 2018 @ 8:35 am

One problem with Trump’s rant: the US enjoys a small trade surplus with Canada.
Would someone please get this president some hard facts and drill him on them for however long it takes top get them fixed in his mind before he goes off half-cocked with any more nonsense?

#5 Comment By Scott G On June 12, 2018 @ 9:59 am

The Benz in your garage is why we have a trade deficit. It is not losing. It is getting what we want and being willing to pay for it. Do you really think anyone would buy a Chevy if they didn’t have to? Same goes for Japanese cars and light trucks, which we do put a heavy tariff on.

Why would anyone be interested in having Russia in the G7 (8) at this point? Their economy is about the size of Massachusetts. They have done nothing but try to drag everyone down to their level since they can’t rise up. They are a global kleptocracy run by Putin, who is more like a James Bond super-villain than he is a world leader. Trump doesn’t know what he is doing. This will not end well.

#6 Comment By Michael Kenny On June 12, 2018 @ 10:36 am

As always, Mr Buchanan sets out his personal agenda and then claims that Trump promised to implement it if elected. The more Trump backs away from globalised free trade (if that’s what he’s really doing), the more that suits the EU. The “core value” of the EU is a large internal market protected by a high tariff wall. Globalisation was rammed down an unwilling EU’s throat by the US in the Reagan years and only the British elite ever really beleived in it. As for NATO, nobody now beleives that the US will honour its commitments, no matter how much Europe pays, so logically, the European members are concentrating their additional expenditure on an independent European defence system, which, needless to say, the US is trying to obstruct. By the way, the US provides 22% of NATO funding, a formula which is based on population. Thus, if the European members increased their contributions to NATO, the US contribution would also rise!

#7 Comment By Kent On June 12, 2018 @ 11:17 am

Donald Trump will remain exasperated because he is fighting the good fight but not really understanding who his adversary’s are.

Foreign countries aren’t taking advantage of the USA. American industrialists are taking advantage of the USA. Why does Apple make its iPhones in China? Why does Ford build so many of its SUVs in Mexico? Not because of the decisions those countries have made. It’s because of the decisions American industrial leaders have made.

Secondly, there is absolutely no threat to NATO from Russia or Putin. Europe could slash its already meager defense budget with only beneficial consequences. The same with Japan and S. Korea. None of these countries need US military help. There are no real military threats to these countries. US military spending has never been about defending other countries. It is about enriching the shareholders of American military contractors.

So here is the real world: The United States has established a “liberal rules-based global order” that allows wealthy American and European commercial interests to benefit mightily from trade, and property and resource control in foreign countries. And this order is maintained by US military power. That is why the US is “the one indispensable nation”. We are the nation that is allowed to break the order, to be the bully, in order for the rules-based order to even exist. That’s why we are beating up on countries that try to live outside of this order like Iran, NK, Venezuela, Russia and everyone else who don’t fall in line.

So Donald Trump is fighting against the power elite of the United States, he just doesn’t understand that. He is fighting against the most powerful people in the world, people who are well represented by both political parties. He can win this fight if he lets the average American on to this reality. And then leads them properly to a better, more balanced world. But I suspect that he would be assassinated if he tried.

#8 Comment By bacon On June 12, 2018 @ 11:26 am

In re NATO and other oversea DOD spending, the old saying “who pays, says” has a corollary. Who wants to say has to pay. The US, since WWII, has wanted, insisted, on being in charge of everything we touch. This costs a lot, not to mention it often doesn’t work the way we want. It would be easy enough to stop spending all this money. The Pentagon and the military-industrial complex would have a conniption and those whose defense bills we’ve been paying would complain to high heaven, but Trump seems intent on trashing all those alliances anyway and also on spending more money on defense than even the Pentagon thinks they need.

#9 Comment By GregR On June 12, 2018 @ 11:31 am

Trade deficits don’t work the way you think they work. In todays economy the traditional measures of deficits don’t actually tell us much about what is going on.

Do you know what China does with that $350b trade surplus? A huge percentage of it is rolled back immediately into US Treasury bonds because we are the only issuer of credit in sufficient amounts and of suitable stability for them to buy. All of that deficit spending Trump and the Republicans in congress passed last year is being financed by the very trade imbalance that Trump is trying to eliminate.

But trade imbalances really don’t tell us much about the flow of money. Most of the imbalance is created by US companies that have built factories in China to sell goods back to the US, then repatriate money back to the US in the form of dividends or stock buy backs (which are not counted in the trade balance at all).

At best trade balances tell us very little meaningful about what is really going on, but can be wildly deceptive. At worst they are an easy tool, for demogogs who have zero understanding of what is going on, to inflame other uninformed people to justify trade wars.

#10 Comment By One Guy On June 12, 2018 @ 1:27 pm

Interesting the things that Buchanan ignores (on purpose?). The USA has a trade surplus with Canada. Trump lied about that.

There’s nothing wrong with the USA spending less money to defend other countries. Trump doesn’t have to insult our allies to do that.

#11 Comment By Jim Houghton On June 12, 2018 @ 1:49 pm

“Trump understands that this situation is not sustainable.”

You give him more credit than he deserves. What he does understand is that while we’re being the world’s piggy bank, the American taxpayer is being the Military-Industrial Complex’s piggy-bank and that’s just fine with him. As it is with most members of Congress.

#12 Comment By John S On June 12, 2018 @ 1:56 pm

“…our NATO allies cut defense spending again. Yet we are still subsidizing NATO in Europe…”

Mr. Buchanan, like Trump, does not understand how NATO is funded. All NATO members have been paying their dues. In fact, many pay a greater proportion relative to GDP per capita than the U.S. does. Defense budgets are a different matter entirely.

#13 Comment By Sam Bufalini On June 12, 2018 @ 2:14 pm

Remind me again, who just raised the U.S. deficit by more than a $1 trillion over the next 10 years?

#14 Comment By S On June 12, 2018 @ 3:19 pm

This entire article seems to reduce complex issues into simple arithmetic. Economics and job creation is about much more than balance of payments both the author and the US president don’t seem to realise this. Very shallow article.

#15 Comment By Sean On June 12, 2018 @ 5:35 pm

America has a trade surplus with Canada, but seems determined to rub it in.

Some background. As the glaciers retreated south at the end of the ice age, they scraped away Canada’s topsoil and deposited it in America. Rural Canada has little arable areas; it’s beef and dairy by necessity. Costs are high and there are ten Americans to every Canadian…hence the subsidy. America subsidizes it’s agriculture $55 billion annually.

#16 Comment By Mia On June 12, 2018 @ 8:24 pm

Great, if we’re upset about having to protect our allies in the Pacific, let’s change the Japanese constitution to allow them to have a real military again to defend themselves and give the South Koreans nukes to balance out the power situation between them and the Norks/ Chinese. (Why is it so little is ever said about China being a nuclear power?) This whole fantasy of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is so naive it’s laughable. If nukes exist, there will never be any permanent guarantee of anything, and other countries will just keep getting the bomb without our permission, like Pakistan and China. The genie is out of the bottle, so time to be brutally realistic about what we face and what can be done. We can whine all we want to about how it’s not our responsibility, but then we expect other countries to be hobbled and still somehow face enemy powers.

#17 Comment By LouisM On June 12, 2018 @ 9:24 pm

Lets take a look at the growing list of nations shifting to the right (nationalism and populism)
-The Czech, Slovak and Slovenia Republics … Poland, Hungary, Switzerland, the US.

Nations shifting this year to the right (nationalism and populism)
-Austria, Bavaria and Italy

Nations leaning to the right and leaning toward joining the VISEGRAD
-Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Greece


#18 Comment By sglover On June 13, 2018 @ 1:50 pm

Oh, Buchanan playing fast and loose with facts? Straight out lying — again? Must be a day ending in ‘y’….

Hey there LouisM: Unfortunately you left some lowercase letters in your emission today. Are the tremors and fever sweats ebbing?

#19 Comment By TheSnark On June 13, 2018 @ 6:22 pm

No, Mr Buchanan, the US did not “vote for” Trump. The majority voted for Hillary. He is in office due to the way the Electoral College works, and the fact that the Democrats are not smart enough to understand that.

And our trade deficit is not due to foreign manipulation, it is our own fault. Our car industry got fat dumb and happy in the 60’s, and the Japanese and European passed us. We are now caught up, but the market share they lost is gone. In the 50’s and 60’s our steel industry continued investing in old technology, while others invested in new processes. Our steel industry never recovered. Our government spends far more money that it takes it, and our population’s savings rate is almost zero. The difference is bought from foreigners, who are paid with paper (Treasury Bills).

#20 Comment By Thomas Webb On June 13, 2018 @ 7:01 pm

I notice Pat doesn’t mention that we have a trade surplus(goods and services) with Canada, nor does Trump admit this fact.

#21 Comment By Bjd On June 20, 2018 @ 6:02 am

The article does not address the end game of “globalism”. Globalists seek to install layers of unelected government bodies (UN, EU, WTO….) that they want national governments to answer to. At the same time they try to dilute nations’ laws with free-trade agreements and “treaties”. Trump is challenging these attempts. The endgame, in my view, is a return to a feudal system.

#22 Comment By Tbone On June 21, 2018 @ 11:27 am

Globalism is dead! A failed experiment. The rich get richer…the rest of us get the picture.