It has now been more than a year since Donald Trump, then a candidate for the presidency, said: “My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people, and American security, above all else. That will be the foundation of every decision that I will make. America First will be the major and overriding theme of my administration.”
Now we know what “America First” means for President Trump: He signed an executive order (now largely vitiated by courts) intended to keep out refugees from nations accused of being hotbeds of terrorism; has vowed to build a massive border wall, though the project has been somewhat de-prioritized; and has promised to institute protectionist trade barriers to stop imports and so improve the lives of American workers, though he has grown shy of his election rhetoric of late.
Trump may have been nudged away from the excesses of his America First plans, but it’s worth asking what the ethical value of his approach was to begin with. Assuming (for the sake of the argument) that Trump’s policies would significantly reduce risks to Americans, isn’t the president justified or even duty-bound, to take strong action to make such risks as low as possible? Or, put differently: To what extent is the president of the United States justified in putting the interests of Americans ahead of the interests of people of other countries?