The Rise Of Global-Skepticism In International Relations

By Dick Morris on March 1, 2024

In the fast-moving American political scene, a new movement is bursting onto center stage: Global skepticism. It’s not isolationism but it’s not globalism either.  

It is born of a healthy caution about total involvement in foreign wars.  Spawned in the ranks of MAGA, it resists the endless commitment of American lives we saw in Vietnam and Iraq or of our money that is evident in Ukraine.

Very recent polling by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs shows a growing trend toward reluctance to make heavy commitments in foreign policy. In their annual studies, the Council tracks American public opinion about global affairs. 

Ivo Daalder, the former US ambassador to NATO under Obama says the Council’s annual polls are discovering two important trends: “One change,” he says, “is that Republicans have increasingly—since about 2016—become more skeptical about the United States playing an active role in world affairs and more favorable for it staying out of world affairs. This is the question we’ve been asking for 50 years.”

But, he stresses “something bigger happened in the last survey from late last year, which is that for the first time since we asked that question, more Republicans wanted to stay out of world affairs than play an active role in world affairs. That has never happened before. 

There is this secular change over the last decade or so, where Republicans are becoming more isolationist vis-à-vis Democrats. And then all of a sudden, this major shift in the party on the question of whether to stay involved or not. And that major shift can really be explained by one part of the Republican Party.”

Ambassador Daalder says that it is pro-Trump MAGA Republicans leading the change.  In his survey, he divided Republicans into those who had a very favorable opinion of Trump vs. those Republicans who either had unfavorable or only a somewhat favorable opinion of him. 

He found that Global-skepticism runs deep among MAGA Republicans. Only 40 percent of pro-Trump Republicans want the US to “play an active part in world affairs” while 59 percent prefer that we “stay out of world affairs and focus on domestic issues instead.”

Isolationism — the extreme form of Global-skepticism — is a potent force in our political history.  It has never been defeated in a general election.  It fell into disrepute after Pearl Harbor and during Stalin’s conquest of Eastern Europe.

The Republican Party split to its core in 1952 when internationalists, led by Eisenhower, defeated Ohio Senator Robert Taft at the national Republican convention and led the US into the UN and NATO. But now, clothed in MAGA garb, the global-skeptics are increasingly dominating the modern Republican Party.

They are being driven by doubts about the wisdom of emptying our national treasury and denuding our stockpiles of weapons to help Ukraine.  But the movement has deeper roots that tap into an anti-globalist America First world view.  

Apart from Ukraine, skepticism about global climate change is driving the new political movement.  72% of Trump Republicans say the US is paying “too much attention to climate change while 16% feel we are paying too little heed to the issue and 12% feel that we have the balance about right.

But, on the other hand,  the survey finds a strong willingness — indeed an eagerness – – among Trump Republicans to assume an active role in policing our border, competing with China, and stopping Iran’s nuclear program.

91% of Trump Republicans say we are not paying enough attention to problems on our southern border while 61% felt we were not paying enough attention to Iran’s nuclear program and 64% felt we are not sufficiently focused on the competition with China.            

Since the globo-skeptic movement has gathered momentum among the outsiders that are propelling MAGA into the White House, it will be hard to thwart it although the world’s globalists will doubtless try.

Climate change seems to be the gateway that leads to global-skepticism.  MAGA Republicans rightly refuse to orient our entire economy and energy industry around the single issue of climate change.

Europeans are scared to death of the new globo-skepticism.  American distrust of European cafe society globalism runs deep and is exacerbated by the left’s dogmatic and rigid positions on environmental issues.

As Trump runs for president, he will add recruits to MAGA and will elaborate his views on global issues. Global-skepticism is a fast growing movement in the United States and Donald Trump is bringing it to the fore.

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