To give The Donald his due, he has thus far said three perfectly sensible and uncontroversial things about foreign policy. First, he has made it clear he believes the primary purpose of U.S. foreign policy is to advance U.S. interests. In other words, he thinks most states pursue their own interests first and foremost and the United States should do the same. Though most of the foreign-policy establishment claims to have loftier goals (i.e., spreading democracy, promoting human rights, halting proliferation, etc.), Trump’s emphasis on U.S. interests is hardly beyond the pale.
Second, he believes many U.S. allies are wealthy countries free-riding on American protection and failing to bear their rightful share of collective security burdens. He’s correct, and plenty of other U.S. leaders — including President Barack Obama and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates — have said exactly the same thing on numerous occasions.
Third, Trump is skeptical of ambitious efforts to “nation build” in far-flung corners of the world, and he now claims to be opposed to dumb wars. It’s hard to argue with him on this point either, though let’s not forget that he supported the Iraq War in 2003 (and then denied that he had done so). Moreover, he sometimes sounds like he’d be willing to go to war at the drop of a hat. But a disinclination to enter more open-ended quagmires is hardly a controversial position at this point.
So assuming Trump loses, are we stuck with the same strategy of liberal hegemony that has performed so poorly for the past 25 years? Hillary Clinton and her vast team of advisors are strongly committed to the familiar nostrums about America’s “indispensable” role, and her administration may keep trying to roll the stone uphill and remake the world in America’s image. Indeed, some insiders think she’ll be quick to abandon Obama’s somewhat more cautious attitude and take a more interventionist approach to trouble spots like Syria.
Maybe, but I’m not so sure. The days when the United States could manage most of the globe simultaneously are behind us; the federal budget will be tight no matter who wins; China is getting stronger and more ambitious; and the next president will have to make some hard choices and set priorities among Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and other global issues. You might also recall that former president and potential first gentleman Bill Clinton was exceedingly cautious about using military force — and especially U.S. ground troops — and he once told aide George Stephanopoulos that “Americans are basically isolationist.” That insight is even truer today: Because the United States presently faces no existential threats, public support for a costly foreign policy remains paper-thin. Clinton may try to run the world as her predecessors have, but she’ll have to try to do it on the cheap.
In Japan, CEOs make about 67 times more than workers, and eight of the ten highest-paid executives there are from other countries. Australian CEOs get 93 times more. A global Harvard Business School survey found that most people think pay gaps are far smaller than they are. That was particularly true in the U.S., where survey respondents thought the ratio of CEO to average worker pay was 30 to 1; they put the ideal ratio at 7 to 1. In June 2015, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission narrowly approved a rule requiring companies to reveal the pay gap between their CEO and their typical employee. At McDonald’s, that ratio was 644 to 1 in 2014, according to a Bloomberg analysis. A referendum in 2013 gave Swiss voters a chance to restrict executive pay to 12 times the salary of a company’s lowest-paid employee. It failed.
At the risk of generalising, Japan is weird. It’s no weirder than the Queen parachuting into London’s opening ceremony in 2012.
Except, according to my sources, she didn’t really do that. I’m fairly certain Abe didn’t drill through the planet either.