Nationalism, globalism and Trump’s course correction

Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.


There will always be nations, so any attempt to suppress nationalistic sentiment is like trying to suppress nature: Very hard, and dangerous, to do.

What does any of this have to do with our current situation? The answer is everything: for while traditional empires may have gone out of fashion, globalization has taken its place as the imperialism of our time. Globalization represents an attempt to do through peaceful means — the creation of transnational institutions, the erosion of borders and the homogenization of intellectual, cultural and economic products — what the Romans, Persians and others achieved through arms.

Globalization reduces differences in thought in any number of ways: through media consolidation, for example, or through the homogenization of the elite — who these days all seem to come from the same background, attend the same schools and go to the same conferences.

The European Union provides the most illustrative example. It was a fraud from the beginning, even before a single referendum was held. It was sold to the European public on false pretenses: It was supposed to make travel easier and lower trade barriers and the other costs of doing business across borders while allowing states to maintain their sovereignty and citizens their individuality. But if anyone had forthrightly told European voters that “Brussels is going to henceforth regulate the size and shape of your vegetables and dictate your immigration and border policies,” most would have instantly replied, “No, thanks.”

Recall the mantra “ We want to take our country back” a clarion call long before Trump’s arrival that our nation was subjugated and beholding to foreign nations for our goods and services influencing everything from employment to social mobility. Globalism and transnationalism impose their highest costs on established powers — namely the United States — and award the greatest benefits to rising powers seeking to contest U.S. influence and leadership.

China has the greatest amount of U.S. debt, $1.45 trillion, held by a foreign country. Japan comes second at $1.07 trillion, followed by Brazil at $308 billion. Ireland holds $274 billion, and the United Kingdom owns $284 billion.

Trump is trying to correct course, not tear everything down, and to this end, he is determined to end free rides on security guarantees and trade deals alike. Just a thought.

Cyrus Shamloo