The international organizations established in wake of World War II are ripe for reform. But they rest on the principle that international cooperation is essential for global welfare. However imperfect the mechanism, that principle will not go out of fashion. And yet this is a principle that Trump has always defiled and subverted. As China seeks to advance its undisguised national interests and challenge liberal democratic ideology, the United States has responded by . . . what? Even in this latest crisis, China has encountered little concerted pushback from America and its allies. The PRC has not even shuttered its wet markets. Who is going to compel it?
The unvarnished scorn emanating from this White House for U.S. global leadership has left allies alarmed and enemies emboldened. The Trump administration has repudiated America’s responsibility for world order and surrendered America’s obligation to lead. This is all evident in U.S. policy toward China, where the proclaimed instinct to defend the national interest has seldom been translated into a coherent or consistent policy. The Trump administration has not reduced economic interdependence with China in trade and investment, or expanded America’s alliance network in the Asia Pacific, or enhanced American credibility against foreign aggression.