Whatever today’s still developing populist American nostalgia may become, it will not be a yearning for the days of Henry Cabot Lodge. Nor, as Angelo Codevilla recently made plain at American Greatness, is it a longing either for Reaganesque Cold War or Carteresque détente.
Barack Obama failed to cultivate strong enough allies to help sustain U.S. hegemony amid near economic collapse. And so, Trumpists aim to protect American self-respect, U.S. freedom of motion, and world order — not to throw Europe to the wolves.
With one big condition, chances are this swaggering approach can work better than zombie Obamaism. If some Europeans may never be able to fully shake the allure of being the wolves, Americans must remember that, here, the allure of visceral Old World pride as a lifestyle experience is a barren illusion. The straightforward Trumpist plan to recover from the Obama years is complicated by the marginal but growing trend of imitating an “ancient” identity that can never be authentic in the New World. Discourage that, without breeding more disillusionment, and Trump has a clearer field — and the West a firmer future — than it seems.