In a foreign policy speech yesterday, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump described his plan to take care of “America First,” which echo’s a popular phrase among the Old Right non-interventionists. In the speech, Trump vowed to “shake the rust off America’s foreign policy.”
Trump explained that “unlike other candidates for the presidency, war and aggression will not be my first instinct,” adding that “you cannot have a foreign policy without diplomacy.” Trump called for a more “rational” approach to foreign policy, and rejected what he described as, the “false song of globalism.”
“We will no longer surrender this country, or its people, to the false song of globalism.”
In the past, Trump has expressed his belief that the U.S. “would have been better off if we never looked at the Middle East for the last 15 years.” Trump argues that neoconservative “experts” have been in control of foreign policy for decades, but to no avail. The establishment’s foreign policy has been defined by foreign aid and intervention, but has done very little to calm foreign conflict.
Trump’s speech has undeniable similarities to the controversial 1941 speech by America First Committee member Charles Lindbergh, given prior to the start of World War II. Trump’s non-interventionist rhetoric scares the war party establishment, but his ideas are not new, nor are they solely those of “Nazi sympathizers.”
During the Republican civil strife in the 1940’s between Ohio Senator Robert Taft (non-interventionist) and New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey (leader of the moderate “Eastern Establishment“) for control of the party. to oppose wars, but since what Murray Rothbard described as the “Betrayal of the American Right,” most of the anti-war conservatives have been purged from the Republican party.
Conservatism has had cohorts of non-interventionist influence, but has largely struggled to culture a winning coalition in the modern era dominated by military spending and foreign aid. Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul facilitated antiwar movements within the Republican party, but were unable to win on the national stage. Trump may be the first Republican since Taft to have electoral success as a skeptic of foreign entanglements.