The Trump Doctrine

The president recognizes the United States is engaged in economic war—and his policies reflect the will to fight back
December 28, 2017 Updated: December 30, 2017

The mainstream media’s bias against President Donald Trump has caused it to miss the most dynamic change in American foreign policy in a century, implemented by the president this year.

The president’s earlier withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, later followed by his publication of the 2017 National Security Strategy, is part of a grand strategy by the Trump administration to secure and improve the place of the United States in a world of competing nations.

Its goal is to stop the decline of American power and prestige caused by previous administrations’ adherence to the crumbling dream world of Wilsonian progressivism and globalism. The strategy can be called the “Trump Doctrine.”

Economic War

Powers hostile to America have never subscribed to the dogma of globalism that all nations can work together through peaceful trading. Those powers are using economic competition to strengthen their nations’ economies and dominate their geographical regions.

There are currently three players in the 21st century’s great game of regional hegemony: the United States (which previously didn’t even know the contest was taking place), the People’s Republic of China, and the Russian Federation.

The economic collapse of the Soviet Union and its peaceful dissolution in 1989 caused short-sighted Western political analysts to declare “the end of history.” None of them noticed, however, that China, the world’s largest communist state, had not collapsed and had in fact learned a valuable lesson from the former Soviet Union, with which it shares the common heritage of Marxism and Leninism.

By withdrawing from the Paris accord, the United States is no longer bound by crippling industrial standards determined in part by the world’s biggest polluters themselves.

Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and his successors formulated and refined “capitalism with Chinese characteristics” (CWCC) as the economic mechanism to propel China into Asian hegemony.

Simultaneously the Russian Federation, the successor to the Soviet Union, adopted a ruthless frontier capitalism to reassert its hegemony over the former Soviet republics.

The United States did not see a challenge militarily and no problem economically, so it simply withdrew from competing with either nation. American and European industrialists gave over the management of their enterprises on a global level to financial engineers and eliminated any consideration of the consequences of their action from their planning.

The American and, to a lesser extent, European governments quietly watched the globalization of finance, the culmination of globalization and progressivism. Both Europe and the United States accepted China as an equal in the World Trade Organization.

But China took complete advantage of the withdrawal of the West from economic competition to advance the two-pronged goal of CWCC. One goal is to acquire and control a sufficient supply of the critical natural resources that enable Chinese economic growth and dominance. The other is to allow Chinese market capitalism to compete internally for economic growth and development to catch up with the United States.

Russia simply re-exerted control through economic as well as military means in its western and central Asian “near abroad.” In Europe, Russia has met resistance from a now independent Ukraine, but it continues, as it has for centuries, to be the hegemon that dominates Ukrainian politics.

Epoch Times Photo
Former French President François Hollande holds a copy of the 196-nation Paris Agreement in Paris on Oct. 5. The United States withdrew from the accord in part because it gives major polluters like China and Russia a free pass and punishes U.S. industry. (JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

A New Player

Under Trump, the United States has finally accepted the contest and is preparing to fight back. He has recognized resource imperialism as a major economic threat to American hegemony in the West, and he is acting in accordance with that recognition.

By withdrawing from the Paris accord, the United States is no longer bound by crippling industrial standards determined in part by the world’s biggest polluters. In particular, the structural metals of our civilization, iron and aluminum, cannot be produced from their ores or scrap without the continuous application of large amounts of electricity.

China continues to build both coal and nuclear power plants, claiming it has a right to “catch up” with the “developed” countries, even though it is now the world’s largest producer of not just structural metals but of 60 percent of all metals.

America’s withdrawal from the Paris accord strengthens our ability to maintain our critical fossil- and nuclear-fueled baseload generation and allows us to expose and ignore Chinese hypocrisy. Russia, in the meantime, continues to be the world’s premier miner and smelter of the alloying metals critical to modern structural and energy storage needs, without any regard whatsoever to the Paris accord.

Unless the United States rapidly reasserts itself and reestablishes a secure and sufficient supply of critical technology metals and materials, it will become dependent upon the Chinese technological industry for consumer goods and even military needs by the end of the next decade.

The National Security Strategy recognizes that to compete with China and Russia, we must look to our own needs for continuous energy production, first and foremost. An executive order issued on Dec. 20 calls to identify critical industrial raw materials and to reverse the problem of the country’s reliance on imports for almost all civilian and military inputs. It also shows that Trump understands the problem.

Trump looks to revive American security with self-sufficiency in the critical materials that maintain and grow our American domestic quality of life and our safety from foreign interference.

The American Silicon Valley model, designed by globalist capital, has failed. Designing products in Palo Alto but building them in Asia because of “low labor costs” is an illusion. It ignores the fact that—debt problems aside—under CWCC, China has built a competitive economy based on the state-directed acquisition of the necessary and critical raw materials required to maintain a modern high-tech manufacturing economy. It is not low-cost labor that gives China its advantage; it is the holistic approach to maintaining a competitive edge fostered by CWCC.

Taking China to task for its innovation-mercantilist trade policy is another pillar of the Trump doctrine, under which he initiated an investigation of Chinese intellectual property theft under section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.

The United States military is the dominant one in the world today. Russia has the second-most powerful military, and China’s is a not-so-distant third. But in economic nationalism and resource imperialism, China is now pushing the hardest.

Without accepting the contest for economic hegemony and the policy changes Trump is implementing, there would be little hope for America to continue to be the world’s most prosperous country. With the Trump Doctrine, there is at least a real contest.

Jack Lifton is a senior fellow at the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security and principal at TM Research. Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.