Reinhard Krause / REUTERS U.S. President Donald Trump at the NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 2018

The Strategic Thinking That Made America Great

“Europe First” and Why It Still Matters

In the last few weeks, U.S. President Donald Trump has criticized key allies, called the European Union a foe, and labeled Russia a friendly, respectable competitor. By coddling Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump seeks to appease Russia’s leader, who is not only working systematically to expand Russia’s influence around the globe but also trying to support a growing number of authoritarian leaders who spurn liberal democratic values and free market practices. Trump’s strategy for advancing U.S. greatness is an “America first” agenda: minimizing obligations to allies, treating everyone as a competitor, freeing the United States from the restrictions imposed by multilateral institutions, seeking trade advantages through bilateral negotiations, building up military power, befriending dictators if they support him, and acting unilaterally in a zero-sum framework of international politics.

"Europe First" never meant Europe alone.

Before Trump, the bedrock of U.S. grand strategy for successive administrations, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George H. W. Bush, was “Europe First.” “Europe First” meant seeking democratic allies in key areas of the globe, especially across the Atlantic; embracing multilateral institutions; and thwarting efforts of adversaries to gain control of the preponderant natural resources, industrial infrastructure, and skilled labor of Europe and Asia. It never meant Europe alone. The strategy was the means through which policymakers sought to safeguard democratic capitalism and serve the most vital interests and values of the United States—abroad, but especially at home. Of all the pillars of U.S. foreign policy that Trump has jeopardized since taking office, his abandonment of the “Europe First” strategy stands to be the greatest loss.

The Nazi Threat

On December 29, 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the nation in one of his fireside chats. This chat differed from others Roosevelt had delivered to the American public on the radio since 1933: “This is not a fireside chat on war,” Roosevelt stated. “It is a talk on national security.” It was the first time a U.S. president spoke explicitly about national security and

Loading, please wait...

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.

Continue