Writing from Berlin, Michael Gerson observes that "It is strange being in a foreign country and watching U.S. post-World War II leadership — as practiced by presidents such as Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan — collapse into a heap of chaos, ignorance and self-indulgence…. We are seeing Trump unbound: a president increasingly confident in his own damaged instincts, untethered from reality and surrounded by advisers chosen to amplify his insanity."
Nonetheless, I shall give credit to Trump for having had one major and positive effect on my thinking — on my sentiments regarding my own country. For years, in print and discussions, too often I was part of what is sometimes called the "Blame America first" school of thought. We were the hegemon, the imperialist brute, I argued, intent on having our way with "lesser" countries, the consequences of blowback be damned. I scoffed, for instance, at the formation of NATO — an opinion based principally on the disapproving, contemporaneous advice of George Kennan, a postwar American diplomat whom I admire immensely. With an aggressive and hostile Russia, my opinion (and Kennan's) has not held up well. But mostly, with Trump's malevolence as the singular face of America, I have come to appreciate the United States as a historical power far more for the good.
I won't call my rethinking patriotic, since patriotism, for my taste, is too closely related to nationalism, which is a dangerous Trumpian impulse. Let's just say I now appreciate, with a newfound sense of pride, what the United States accomplished in the post-Second World War order — its creation. Notwithstanding our egregious lapses of good judgment — Vietnam, Iraq — the U.S. has stood for "economic collaboration, self-government and a 'wider and permanent system of general security,'" as Gerson writes.
Also writes Gerson: "This is perhaps the largest foreign policy crisis of our time: a U.S president who has lost the ability to distinguish friends from enemies." And the crisis is going to get worse. His advisers enable him and his gutless party is hibernating. We and the world are at the mercy of the most unstable president in American history. Nixon, drunk and kneeling before portraits, was saner than this — and there's nothing my fresh sense of national pride can do about that.