The role the United States plays on the world stage has helped define us as a nation for more than 200 years. It has also often divided us.

Every president starting with George Washington had to deal with various American factions whose loyalties and financial interests lay in different parts of the world.

President Donald Trump has sometimes advanced policies that limit the United States’ cooperation in international pacts and involvement in multi-nation programs. While his rhetoric is less about isolationism than about “America First” ideology, the president’s overall record exposes a lack of coherence regarding U.S. foreign policy.

"I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions,” Trump said in a speech at the United Nations last September. “The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return."

But the president’s preaching doesn’t square with his practices when it comes to Iran, a bad actor internationally and foe of the United States for about 40 years. A consortium of nations, including the United States, worked for years to stop Iran’s development as a nuclear threat. The multi-nation approach included severe economic sanctions and other measures that eventually produced an agreement in 2015 to stop Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.

Trump withdrew the United States from that pact. As he did so, he began to threaten and punish the nations still in it — not just Iran, but also France, Great Britain and Germany.

Does that sound like a president who respects the sovereignty of other nations?

The same sort of inconsistency marks U.S. policy regarding Venezuela. Once a stalwart friend of the United States, the nation became an aggravation with the election of Hugo Chavez in 1999. His socialist policies were fueled by money from oil assets, which bought him support at home even as his boorish insults and treatment of business interests upset much of the world. He died in 2013 and was replaced by Nicolas Maduro. When oil prices collapsed in 2014, the resulting economic crisis underscored the weakness of Venezuela’s economy, creating extraordinary hardship for residents. To hold on to power, Maduro started jailing opponents, delaying elections and doing whatever else was necessary.

Trump is now hinting at war with Venezuela.

At the same time, the Trump administration rationalizes praises and supports leaders of Saudi Arabia and North Korea. Both offer records of oppression and misconduct rivaling Iran and Venezuela.

And while the Trump administration views Chinese technology and cyber-espionage as risks to U.S. security, it continues to misconstrue and deny similar behavior on the part of Russia. Namely, Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, which has been documented and explained by multiple federal agencies.

And it’s not just U.S. policy where inconsistencies are obvious. The behavior of individual Trump associates also highlights the issue. It’s doubtful that any president’s entourage has included so many anti-globalists lining their pockets with foreign money.

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, for example, worked for Colombia, Brazil and other foreign entities.

Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort lobbied on behalf of Ukraine and pro-Russian entities, earning more than $60 million.

Former White House adviser Steve Bannon is working to organize and promote nationalist politics and candidates in Europe.

White House adviser Jared Kushner and his family have a long record of using their political ties to leverage money from foreign entities.

And Michael Flynn, who was a national security adviser for Trump, worked on behalf of Turkey.

That’s just a sampling. In some cases, not only did these advisers and officials exploit their positions to advance the causes of foreign companies and governments, but they failed to follow the law.

Many Republicans bash Bill and Hillary Clinton for using their public positions to leverage money internationally, enriching themselves and their nonprofit organizations. But the Clintons have nothing on the Trump crowd, which shamelessly and brazenly mixes their business interests with U.S. policy interests.

You can call that kind behavior a lot of things, but anti-globalist it is not.

 

A native of Garden City, Julie Doll is a former journalist who has worked at newspapers in California, Indiana and New York, as well as across Kansas.