In a strong op-ed published in TIME magazine online, former presidential candidate and current Ohio governor John Kasich warned that the current trend toward U.S. isolationism may result in global conflicts on the order of the two World Wars.
In the op-ed, Kasich warns that U.S. international relations, including treaties and alliances such at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are beginning to unravel.
The Republican governor says that it appears that history is repeating itself, and our society is showing similar signs to those that preceded both World War I and World War II, writing:
‘And if history is indeed repeating itself, we can’t say we haven’t been warned, and we must take steps now to change our current course.’
Kasich references the needs of alliances in a global economy, and his concerns about the ability to do business across international borders:
‘I am increasingly concerned about the future of international alliances that has long ensured the United States and its partner nations of a stable world and the free flow of ideas and trade.’
Kasich doesn’t really name names, but the op-ed links to a TIME article discussing Trump’s poor understanding of the importance of the NATO alliance. Kasich refers to this obliquely as “intemperate voices at home.” He also blames these “voices” for growing distrust in international relations.
‘Growing tensions across the world, fed by intemperate voices at home, have caused many in this country to second-guess the international alliances and relationships that have served us so well across seven post-war decades. As a result, those alliances have lost credibility with growing numbers here who say they prefer that we stay at home instead of supporting our allies overseas.’
Kasich adds that this growing distrust in the U.S. is now reflected in our allies, with many of them finding doubt in their relationship with the Untied States.
‘In many of our allied nations, similar doubts are taking root.’
Aside from the more pragmatic and material goals of maintaining good relationships with foreign nations for economic reasons, Kasich also stresses the importance of them having trust in our national values.
‘It’s also about protecting the collective human values that have for so long sustained the United States and what we rightly call the Free World — values such as freedom of speech; universal respect for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion; and a world open to free enterprise, travel and trade. These are the shared values that we and our allied nations believe in; the same values others scorn and deny to those they rule.’
Kasich states that this collection of universal values — human right to freedom and self-determination — have created the structures to which the entire world rallies, and has ensured the security of the U.S., and our allies, over “seven stressful decades.”
Kasich’s warning for the results of allowing these alliances to deteriorate is both dire and chilling:
‘But history, always eager to relive its past, foretells what happens when our international alliances are taken for granted and left to decay, despite the rise of increasingly dangerous aggressors. Twice before, on the eve of World War I and again in the dark days before World War II, we witnessed regional instability that quickly led to global conflict — leaving tens of millions dead and large swaths of the world in ruin.’
Again, without naming names, Kasich points the finger at Trump and his proposed policies and incoming administration for weakening international alliances. And he specifically points out Trump’s coddling of Russia.
‘The notion that it somehow makes us safer at home to sacrifice support for a free Ukraine in exchange for a better relationship with Russia — which continues to deny its unacceptable interference in our presidential election — is wrong and naïve. It’s inconsistent with our ideals and leads other allies to doubt our resolve.’
Kasich is right. The U.S. will find itself a poor example of a country that stands for “inalienable rights” over convenience and cash. Or control.
‘History will again show that it takes courageous resolve to preserve the values-based alliances that have kept us safe for seven decades. Without a shared commitment to freedom, how can expect it to survive? That is why we must reassure the Baltics and Ukraine — who live in the very shadow of Russia — that the United States will be there for them if trouble arises. Russian intimidation of our NATO allies or other free nations cannot be tolerated’
Kasich also refers to Trump as a “false prophet.” Backhandedly at least, because after all, he is a Republican and needs to work with his party’s support, and so far, the GOP is unwilling to give up their populist figurehead.
‘Instead of listening to the siren song of false prophets, we must relearn to work together with respect for opposing points of views in a search for the common ground and a recommitment to shared values that will help us together reaffirm our common humanity. We must strengthen our alliances with renewed vigor and purpose by rededicating ourselves to the values on which those bonds of trust are built.’
Trump has threatened to destroy a number of our international alliances and treaties, from NATO to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to our commitment to the United Nations. Trump wants to build a wall between us and or southern neighbor, Mexico. Trump wants to create barriers to immigration and turn back refugee families.
Although many of these agreements could stand some revision, even according to the most liberal of politicians, the moral obligations that the United States has shouldered and honored internationally since World War I are one of the reasons our somewhat backward and mostly agricultural country grew into a superpower.
Kasich puts it more directly:
‘The relentless repetition of history teaches us this: If we find the courage and unity to defend our values, we will succeed. And succeed we must.’
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