Like the Marshall Plan, the Paris Agreement recognized that in the modern world there is no “over there” anymore. Today, over there is here, and here is over there, and our President fundamentally doesn’t understand it.
In a recent op-ed, senior officials from the administration painted the world as no more than an “arena” where nations “compete for advantage.” They were trying to explain the President’s behavior while he was in Europe. That attitude marks a huge departure from generations of American foreign policy. This is not about the Obama administration; this is about a set of traditional American values and approaches to the world that we have had almost since the Nation’s founding, and the space the President is creating out there in the world by abandoning those treasured American values gives space to those who seek every single day to undermine the liberal world order that has allowed our country and allies across the globe to succeed.
The President should understand that generations of leaders in the United States have put America first. They have always put America first–not in slogans or stump speeches but in the alliances and institutions we built, the values we champion, the alliances we forged that have given our world 70 years of peace and prosperity. That is a legacy upon which we must build–one that has put America first and has kept America first today and, if we act wisely, I think for decades to come.