In the essay, Wertheim makes clear that Trump is in no way a traditional America Firster that he is really a militarist. This is the first decent and accurate take in a mainstream publication that correctly gets who Trump is. The essay in its entirety should be read by all libertarian Trump fanboys, it gets to the essence of who Trump is and why he is so dangerous.
Here are a few snippets:
Under President Trump, American foreign policy is returning, many commentators say, to the isolationism that preceded World War II. This line of interpretation (and often attack) emerged during the election: While Hillary Clinton warned that her opponent would “tear up our alliances,” an array of experts supplied such fears with a historical pedigree. As Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass put it, Trump stood for a “new isolationism,” a revival of the 1930s dream of “turning away from global engagement.”
The problem is, Trump isn’t an isolationist. He is a militarist, something far worse. And calling Trump an isolationist isn’t an effective critique.
The term “isolationism” was coined in the 1930s to caricature Americans who wanted to stay strictly neutral in the looming war. They scarcely sought to “disconnect from the world,” as Vox’s Zack Beauchamp recently wrote. In fact, most favored peaceful forms of overseas involvement, such as trade, and insisted on defending the Americas from foreign intervention — no small feat. What united them was their opposition to entering the Second World War after the devastation of the First. Judging the United States capable of repelling any outside invasion, they wanted to steer clear of armed entanglement in Europe and Asia. To breach this tradition would embroil Americans in “perpetual war for perpetual peace,” in the words of historian and participant Charles Beard.
The first America Firsters, then, were antiwar more than anti-Semitic or pro-fascist, strains that recent critics of Trump overemphasize....
It’s often an unfair label, but it’s especially nonsensical when it comes to the current commander in chief: Trump is no isolationist, whether caricatured or actual. Rather than seeking to withdraw from the world, he vows to exploit it. Far from limiting the area of war, he threatens ruthless violence against globe-spanning adversaries and glorifies martial victory. In short, the president is a militarist.
Scholars define militarism, broadly, as the excessive use and veneration of force for political ends, or even for its own sake, extending at times to full military control of the state. (Trump has appointed two Marine generals, Jim Mattis and John F. Kelly, to his Cabinet.) Militarism, the pioneering historian Alfred Vagts wrote in 1937, promotes values “associated with armies and wars and yet transcending true military purposes.” Militarism can be a policy and an ethos, corrupting the pursuit of rational goals...
Previous presidents — Theodore Roosevelt, Richard Nixon — have scorned non-Western cultures and accentuated divergent interests among states. But Trump is unique in seeing America as a victim nation, a net global loser that must now fight back. His single most consistent political conviction is that other countries have exploited the United States...
Trump rejects America’s traditional identity as an exceptional nation shining the light of freedom to the world. What identity does he offer instead? While ignoring the Founding Fathers, he constantly invokes the “old days of General MacArthur and General Patton,” the most extreme generals of the mid-20th century.