Donald J. Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20 as the 45th President was a defining moment in American history, as the United States turned inward, discarding the mantle of leadership that it had assumed over the last 75 years.
Having run as a populist candidate, it is not surprising that the bulk of his inaugural address was devoted to the domestic scene, which he painted in somber hues. But he also spoke on foreign affairs ― not about America's commitment to global leadership but about how America's foreign entanglements had led to the weakening of American industry, the depletion of America's military and the decay of its infrastructure.
Instead of a postwar international order created and led by the US, Trump sees a world in which the US is a victim where other countries take advantage of its generosity. The US, it seems, should now turn its back on the world.
Significantly, he said not a word about the role of American business, about how the rich got richer by shuttering factories and moving them overseas, leaving American workers jobless, how rich people like himself avoided paying taxes and how, in 2014, the wealthiest 1% of the population possessed 40% of the nation's wealth while the bottom 80% only owned 7%.
It is ironic that Trump should excoriate the establishment and champion the people in his speech, while his cabinet is top-heavy with billionaires.
Perhaps Trump's most dangerous pronouncements have been not about America's adversaries but about its allies, and its alliances. He has called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization obsolete and suggested that Japan and South Korea should look after themselves, perhaps develop their own nuclear weapons, despite the threat of North Korea to them and to the US.
In his inaugural address, Trump did talk about the country's alliances, saying "We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones ― and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth."
The Nato nations are already involved in the fight against ISIS so, from that standpoint, Trump may be willing to overlook what he calls its obsolescence. But his reference to the formation of new alliances is intriguing. Which countries does he have in mind? He had........