“Donald Trump’s Plan to Save Western Civilization” Stephen Wertheim, The New York Times, July 2017

“ ‘Civilization’ is to occupy the fore of foreign policy under Trump. The only doctrine able to reconcile his material commitment to America’s global primacy with his ideological aversion to liberal universalism. (...) A  growing segment of the right perceives radical Islamic terrorism, white demographic decline and cultural pluralism as threats to Western civilization — and autocrats as its foremost defenders”.

Candidate Trump put America First. President Trump has organized his foreign policy around another principle: no longer the aggrieved victim t portrayed during the campaign, the USA is the proud leader of the West: a “community of nations” sharing a common “way of life.” The outlines of a Trump doctrine emerge: The President has pledged America to the “defense of civilization itself.” A foreign policy oriented around defending Western civilization squares the circle between Mr. Trump’s base of voters and the national security grandees. The base hears blood-and-soil rootedness: “the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are”. The elites heaer shared values and committing to global alliances. Presidents in the 20th century identified America’s vital interests with “Western civilization”. Mr. Trump is no less committed to the West --a rallying cry for neoconservatives--. Would Trump maintain the global alliances inherited from the Cold War? This was the acid test, and he has answered yes. In Warsaw, he explicitly endorsed NATO’s collective defense commitment. Nor has Trump relinquished defense commitments in Asia. He vowed to “solve the problem” of North Korea. He decries globalism, but he assigns the US no less global a role than his predecessors. The flip side of this fondness for civilized law and order: extolling the “unbelievable job” of President Duterte of the Philippines, with his extrajudicial killing of thousands. Certain nonwhite, non-Western strongmen can be brought into the magic circle of civilization if they are stamping out savagery. As for that West, Mr. Trump has taken up its mantle just as the West recoils from him. He is detested in Western Europe. There is irony in Trump proclaiming, “the fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive”. He is the one shattering the bonds of identity that form the West’s “will.”

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“Donald Trump’s Plan to Save Western Civilization” Stephen Wertheim, The New York Times, July 2017


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