January 09, 2017

Why Trump Can’t Disengage America From the World

Debates about the extent to which the United States should use its power to lead and shape events in the world, and when and how it should intervene, are eternal in our history. In 1821, John Quincy Adams admonished us not to go abroad “in search of monsters to destroy.” But in a world more interconnected than anything he could have imagined, we have been forced or tempted on occasion to do just that: in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria or perhaps soon in North Korea. So what is the proper balance, given that Donald J. Trump’s threatened disengagement from the world is an extreme position that violates the trajectory of our history? Ironically, the one factor that best informs us in this debate is never discussed: America’s own geography.

Everyone knows that the United States is a virtual island-nation, protected by two oceans, with the sparsely inhabited Canadian Arctic to the north. But that is only the beginning of the discussion, in which America’s physical location and topographical characteristics help provide a spiritual direction for our foreign policy — something that Mr. Trump cannot change.

Read the full article at The New York Times.