It’s 1987, Ronald Reagan is President, the Cold War is in full swing, the Soviet Union still exists, and Mikhail Gorbachev is the leader of the Soviet Union. On June 12th, President Reagan calls upon Gorbachev to destroy the wall: “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
The isolationism and protectionism that Gorbachev was advocating for by building the wall reminds me of the United States’ current foreign policy. President Trump has been rejecting the previously consistent foreign policy of recent decades. The President’s new policies have similarities to the policies used during the Cold War Era. How might this switch affect the upcoming 2020 election?
Trump has been questioning the United States’ commitment to allies in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East since the beginning of his presidency. While he talks the talk, he hasn’t quite walked the walk yet, until this past week. President Trump has recently begun to pull US troops out of Syria and is now nearly ready to call a National State of Emergency to build a wall along our Mexican border. He faced much opposition from French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, both of whom tried to convince Trump to at least slow down the deliberate removal of troops if not cancel the whole plan altogether. Even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with national security advisor John Bolton, who told Netanyahu that the troops would be withdrawn slowly and with important caveats. Netanyahu even spoke with Trump two days before and the day after the troops began to leave where a kind of ‘tug of war’ took place on how to execute the pullout. Trump has taken an “America First” attitude toward foreign policy and it shows with the withdrawal of troops in Syria. Trump’s goal is a one-month timetable to pull out all the troops in Syria despite his originally slower plan. There are many people concerned about the quick overturn, being that it doesn’t allow much time for adjustment and left many wondering if Trump was going to alter the Trump administration’s commitment to fully defeat the Islamic State and to drive Iranian forces out of Syria. Pompeo reassured allies that it wouldn’t. This is all a part of Trump’s isolationist view of American politics, he wants to pull American troops out of other countries wars to protect our citizens.
Furthermore, the President is most likely going to call a state of emergency so he can use money from the Department of Defense’s budget to build a wall along the Mexican-American border in hopes of keeping gang members, like those from MS-13, and drugs out of the country. Trump’s desire for a wall is due to the hope that it will protect the American people. Trump hopes that the wall will protect the American people from immigrants who are illegally entering the country and are bringing drugs and weapons with them, along with taking jobs from the American people. He wants to make the wall out of steel to give jobs to back to the American people and to help grow the steel industry. The desire for the wall comes from Trump’s hopes that by building the wall, he will be protecting the American people, and therefore has taken on a protectionist mindset.
These kinds of protectionist and isolationist ideas have many similarities to the Cold War mindset of trying to protect the American people from outside threats. No one can blame the President for trying to do what he thinks is best for the country, despite the fact that it might be more damaging in the long run.
That being said, how might this affect the upcoming 2020 elections? Many speculate that Trump will win the election since past elections have shown that the incumbent typically wins. Furthermore, with the number of Democrats running, there is a possibility that the votes will be so divided that they won’t be able to win the majority. Also, there is concern that many of the Democrats that are running are too controversial or too radical.