American Consequences - November 2020

espoused liberal values such as freedom and liberty but applied them selectively, both at home and abroad. It formed no alliances besides the one it signed with France during the Revolutionary War. Its tariffs ranked among the highest in the world. It shunned international institutions. The United States was not isolationist; in fact, its rampant territorial expansion inspired the envy of Adolf Hitler. But it was often aloof. It’s easy to forget, though, that the post- Cold War period up until Donald Trump – a time during which most living American adults came of age – was historically Slow-moving demographic changes that benefit the U.S. – and put the economic growth of most other countries at risk – combined with greater automation of the global economy may reduce the reliance of the United States on other countries. A slow realization that a lot needs to be fixed in the U.S., from race relations to infrastructure to education, may accelerate the “America first” agenda regardless of who’s president. What does that do to stocks’ prices? No country – not even the United States – is an island. Global supply chains are global, and consumers are all over. Until recently, trade was a centerpiece of global economic growth. If the supremacy of hard power leads to a reversal of these trends and a reversion to a

human rights – generally with American leadership and heavy funding – via an alphabet soup of transnational institutions, like the United Nations, NATO, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, and many others. With the U.S. at the head of the table, these organizations weaved together the disparate, and often conflicting, national military, economic, and political interests of the countries of the world. Meanwhile, American do-good interventions in dozens of countries around the world have often dominated the country’s foreign policy agenda, despite the absence of any self- interest... beyond wanting to make the world a better place for all, and (of course, until the 1990s) keeping the world as free as possible from the stain (or is it a virus?) of communism. Are we going back to that with Joe Biden? Not so fast. It’s easy to forget, though, that the post-Cold War period up until Donald Trump – a time during which most living American adults came of age – was historically anomalous. As a recent article from Foreign Affairs magazine – subtitled “Why This Could Be an Illiberal American Century” – explains... Trump’s ‘America first’ approach to foreign policy has deep roots in U.S. history. Before 1945, the United States defined its interests narrowly, mostly in terms of money and physical security, and pursued them aggressively, with little regard for the effects on the rest of the world. It

American Consequences


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