Whatever the reason, for many Americans, the choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton has turned out to be no choice at all. A few of us harbored hopes that he at least might confront the Blob and begin to reorient U.S. foreign policy. But that was not to be.
The schadenfreude I feel when watching Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute lose his lunch over Trump’s apparent leap into the neoconservative foreign policy pool is tempered by sympathy to his point, a matter I will turn to Tuesday.
For now, it is worth noting that the Koch machine and the libertarian right has lost what it thought would be a champion of a new foreign policy. I can only assume that these forces have begun to search for a replacement candidate and that we will not have to wait long into 2019 to hear from him (or her.)
Many in the United States have a rampant, untreated case of enemy dependency. Politicians love enemies because bashing them helps stir up public sentiment and distract attention from problems at home. The defense industry loves enemies because enemies help them make money. Pundits and their publications love enemies because enemies sell papers and lead eyeballs to cable-news food fights.
I have lived in and dealt with China long enough to know that we should not delude ourselves about that country or its intentions. This is a relationship unlike any we have known in recent history, at once a market, a resource, and a competitor with whom we share a mutual dependency. We are confused about how to deal with them, and they with us.
China may well wind up being our enemy at some point. But we serve ourselves poorly by creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. There is a fine line between wise preparedness and reckless provocation. Our debate should be on where that line is, and once decided we should step right up to it – but not across.