What Happened to Putting Americans First?

Originally appeared at The American Conservative.

Trump repeated his outrageous anti-Semitic statement yesterday:

President Trump said Wednesday that Jewish Americans who vote for Democratic candidates are “very disloyal to Israel,” expanding on his remarks from the previous day and dismissing criticism that his remarks were anti-Semitic.

“I think if you vote for a Democrat, you are very, very disloyal to Israel and to the Jewish people,” Trump said in an exchange with reporters outside the White House before departing for an event in Kentucky.

There wasn’t really any doubt about what Trump meant the first time when he launched this attack on the vast majority of American Jews, and now he has removed any doubt that might have remained. The president is using explicit anti-Semitic rhetoric here, and he is attacking most American Jews because they are not loyal to a foreign country. Because Trump has made a habit of indulging the Israeli government and giving Netanyahu everything he wants regardless of the consequences for the U.S., he apparently assumes that this is the attitude everyone else should have. This is the twisted logic of the “pro-Israel” hawk who assumes that Jewish people everywhere should be “loyal” to Israel and should be condemned if they are deemed not to be. It turns the old anti-Semitic attack upside down, but retains the same ugly core of singling out fellow citizens as disloyal because of their identity and vilifying them for political purposes. In one of the more disgraceful episodes of Trump’s presidency, he once again denounces Jewish Americans for putting America and our values first.

Trump’s attacks are the latest example of how Israel and US policy towards Israel have been made into part of the domestic culture war where being a “pro-Israel” hard-liner is associated with nationalism at home. “Pro-Israel” nationalists imagine that they have more in common with hard-liners in other countries than they do with their fellow citizens, and they see no contradiction in being aggressively nationalist here while also subordinating US interests overseas to the preferences of a small client state.

Paul Pillar touched on some of this in his recent article:

First, viewpoints that do not prevail in domestic political competition are seen not just as losing arguments regarding the best way to pursue the national interest but rather as not a worthy part of the nation at all. Second, some foreign interests are seen not just as allies or means that can be used to pursue the US national interest but rather as objects of affection or identity in their own right. These two developments are two sides of the same coin. The more that the concept of a national interest breaks down domestically into a sharp division between one viewpoint to be cherished and an opposing one to be scorned, the more natural a step it is to identify with like-minded elements overseas rather than with one’s own fellow citizens.

It isn’t possible to put America and Americans first when the president and his allies are determined to take the side of a foreign government against American citizens and members of Congress. If we want a foreign policy that actually serves the American interest, we can’t tolerate political leaders that attack fellow Americans to score points with foreign leaders and cast hateful aspersions against minorities in the name of promoting a relationship with another country. Trump is incapable of conducting such a foreign policy, and these anti-Semitic outbursts are the latest reminder of why he can’t.

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter. This article is reprinted from The American Conservative with permission.

41 thoughts on “What Happened to Putting Americans First?”

  1. Accordingly, Trump’s hard core supporters (Always-Trumpers, if you will,) don’t actually believe in the first or fourth Amendments, and believe (akin to the early GW Bush-era GOP) that if you don’t back the current leadership of the country to the hilt no matter what, you hate America, blah blah blah.

    They have inexplicably fallen into his cult of personality and forget or ignore that one of the things that makes this country great is the ability to openly disagree with the government and its actions, and you won’t be killed or shipped off to bury radioactive waste in a Nevada desert. Complete and total obedience to a polarizing leader – scary sh*t.

    1. Trump at least talks on the need to bring troops home. If only he were President, he could do it.

      Trump’s supporters seem to be the only ones defending the first amendment, when not talking about Israel. Only “extremists” like myself still defend the fourth. Trump and his supporters are at least aware that intelligence agencies acted against Trump.

      Your post would sound better if there were a Democrat other than Tulsi who was different. And Tulsi might lose her seat. I believe she could win the nomination, but the Dem won’t even give her a chance to. There won’t be an interesting debate without Tulsi as the nominee.

      1. “Trump at least talks on the need to bring troops home. If only he were President, he could do it.”

        So why didn’t Obama move the embassy to Jerusalem, or give Syrian land to Israel, or repudiate the JCPOA agreement with Iran, or pull out of the INF treaty, or starve Venezuela into submission, etc.? If only we could get PRESIDENT Obama back.

        1. Obama supported terrorists in Syria (which support Trump called out before adopting similar policy), supported Nazis and a coup in Ukraine (Trump hasn’t changed this policy), overthrew Qaddafi which has been a disaster for Libya (Trump hasn’t improved things in Libya), and aided the genocide in Yemen which Trump continued to aid.

          So, Obama was very flawed.

          The most significant of what you wrote: INF treaty & starve Venezuela. Trump might argue that the US must meddle somewhere; so, it’s better to do so in Venezuela than waste time in the MidEast. That argument would be stronger if he’d actually bring troops home from the godforsaken MidEast.

          The alternative to Trump was Hillary. Most of the Dem candidates argue for staying in Afghanistan, for example. So, Trump’s the only wildcard who might act differently. For whatever reason, he just doesn’t act as he talks. He talks about the need to bring troops home, but for some reason he won’t do it.

          I think it was rewarding for Trump to win election just to reshape the GOP, but he’s not acting as hoped on foreign policy, for sure. If Raimondo were still around, I’m sure he’d explain some positives. I was hoping for troops home from Japan and SK, but Trump won’t take any actions. At times it looks like he’s terrified of breaking something, fears changing policy.

          1. “So, Obama was very flawed.”

            Well it’s your nonsensical strawman so you might as well have your way with it; knock your socks off, junior.

            Your whole comment is so laughably absurd on its face it doesn’t merit a substantive reply.

          2. You’re supposed to be looking at your monitor, not your mirror, as you type your infantile zionist drivel, chumpy.

          3. LOL! Well look who’s talkin’ the intellectual giant who claims that Trump isn’t the president. Sorry chump, but only zionist morons such as yourself make excuses for orange clown, your evil messiah.

          4. You simply didn’t follow what I wrote. Much of what I’ve been critical of is directly beneficial to Israel. So, I’ve been critical of US foreign policy serving Israeli interests.

          5. I agree his statement was “spot on,” but his statement was not a counterargument; it was merely a strawman. I hope that clears things up for you, junior.

          6. It’s better he attacked al Qaeda recently, rather than attacking Syria.

            He’s tried to overthrow Venezuela though. I expect he’ll be better than Obama on foreign policy on the whole, when all is considered.

        2. Partly why Trump has become so bad on foreign policy, such as INF treaty end and promotion of nuclear war with Russia, is the stupid RussiaGate nonsense.

          It appears he was successfully manipulated, like a puppet, by RussiaGate. One clear result was his fallout with Jeff Sessions. But it’s affected foreign policy as well. It’s really pitiful.

          The ultimate Trump supporter argument: Maybe he’ll return to what he campaigned on.

          There has to be some Democrat alternative to improve things. The ending of the INF treaty admittedly frightens me… The Neocons and MIC are getting their return to Cold War glory.

          1. So according to you, Trump is deathly afraid of “Russiagate” but nuclear war and planetary extinction doesn’t concern him in the slightest? ROTFL! You’re simply full of shit.

      2. “Trump at least talks on the need to bring troops home.”

        Talk is cheap. Ronald Reagan talked about reducing the size of the federal government, and then gave us one, at the end of his two terms as President, 95% larger than the one which existed at the time of his inauguration.

        Look past the rhetoric, and see politicians for who they actually are.

        1. It just annoys me when I see people condemn Trump when the alternatives aren’t better, or not much better, on foreign policy. I still say Obama was better than McCain. And it’s still possible something good comes from Trump’s presidency on foreign policy.

          1. Clinton would’ve been much better than orange clown on foreign policy at least. You see, Clinton is just another banal political opportunist whereas orange clown is a militant zionist extremist. A career politician like Clinton will not risk WW3 for the satanic zionist agenda whereas an evil ideologue like orange clown will. But you delusional orange clown apologists will never admit it.

          2. You forget just how bad Hillary was. They all wanted to do more in Syria anyway, even Sanders. If Trump truly served Israel, it would seem he’d attack Syria and/or Iran directly. I think some of his statements are just meant to win over Jewish donors and media executives.

          3. No, I didn’t forget how “bad” Clinton was. Rather, you forgot that evil, like almost everything else in the universe, falls on a spectrum; and orange clown, being a hard-core militant zionist extremist, is far, far more evil and more dangerous than Obama or Clinton.

            You see, Obama was not willing to risk WW3 (and potentially his own life) for zion, and neither would Clinton, simply because they got into politics for their own selfish reasons, not to die for the satanic zionist agenda.

            As the risks of the zionist agenda have increased substantially due to a resurgent Russia and rising China, the madmen need hard-core ideologues in the highest offices, not opportunists like Clinton. That’s why orange clown is president and Clinton isn’t. I hope this clears things up for you.

          4. In her platform, was the item, “Confront Russia”…. Yes, Hillary is a tough bit€h… But confront Russia about what…??? She gave me the impression she wanted to out-tough Putin to prove SHE is/was tougher than he is. Maybe she would have gone nuclear to prove her point and killed a couple hundred million in both countries. Some people think it is worth the risk to anoint Hillary queen tough. I’m not one of them. In fact I can’t think of anything Russia is doing that is as serious to require brinksmanshit with thermonuclear armed Russia. Hillary offered no solutions except her sterling self for us to adorn. Look at the mess she made in Libya, now a failed state with slave markets selling women and children. Perhaps so Jeffrey could get some bargain children.

          5. As I see it, Clinton ran as a caricature of herself, while Trump ran as a “why can’t we all just get along” (e.g. with Russia) fraudster. Clinton was apparently supposed to lose, IMO.

            In real life, if Clinton had been elected, she’d have been no more willing to risk killing herself and her family for the ever-more-dangerous zionist agenda than Obama was willing to sacrifice himself; thus the imperial stalemate would’ve continued – something the “deep state” cannot tolerate.

            As I see it, if the “deep state” had actually wanted a democrat to win the 2016 election, it would’ve at least put up a more electable candidate in the first place. Instead it chose Clinton, perhaps the most unelectable democrat available, and even then it had to struggle mightily to undermine her electoral prospects, finally taking the risk to have their servant Obama attack the Syrian army at Deir Ezzor in Sept. 2016, which is probably the act that put Trump in the white house by nudging 10% of disgruntled Sanders supporters into Trump’s camp, whose votes swung the close election to him.

          6. This “Hillary would start ww3” is plain useless nonsense. I could easily write “trump wants to start ww3 but his staff wont let him” useless. The basis for Hillary wants war with Russia was her no fly zone proposal in Syria, which she clearly stated would be enacted with cooperation from Russia. Ironically, trump immediately cooperated with Russian air as soon as he got in….crickets. Trump definitely took grave risks escalating the US role in Syria, attacking Russian mercenaries, and missiling Syria, a Russian ally. Try this..”sure Obama had terrible policies, but, McCain would have started ww3″…help anything ?

          7. I believe Clinton would’ve been better since she is too selfish to be the suicide bomber that our masters need. Orange clown is willing to flirt with planetary extension for the zionist cause while Clinton will not go that far. Clinton is a career politician who got into politics a long time ago for her own benefit, whereas Trump is apparently an ideologue; a Johnny-come-lately on a mission to deliver the world to his masters’ at any cost.

          8. “I see people condemn Trump when the alternatives aren’t better.”

            Tyranny isn’t graded on a curve.

  2. What do I owe Israel….nothing. I resent the billions we already give them & the wars fought for their interest.
    George Washington had the right idea…NO FAVORED NATIONS…ALL ALLIANCES ARE TEMPORARY

  3. Mr. Trump is not completely wrong. He obviously hints at the fact that Jews who are not even loyal to their fellow Jews will even less be loyal to their fellow Americans. They will probably only be loyal to their private “values”.

    Mr. Larison didn’t see the point or tries to avoid it. Speaking about “America and its values” leads to nothing. America is a mere territory, and the real Americans don’t share any values. “America and its values “means in reality “my values which I feel entitled to impose on all other Americans”.

      1. I admit that the two are not necessarily the same – but isn’t that a matter of subjective judgment? I mean, everyone might subjectively identify “loyalty to my people” with “loyalty to my homeland”.

  4. The Democrats hate everything about Anerica and Israel. So he question why would a any Jew show support to such a political party.

    1. Like members of every other group, Jews have a range of opinion on every issue. Some Jews, like some non-Jews, are Zionists and support Israel. Other Jews, like other non-Jews, are not Zionists and couldn’t care less about Israel. And still other Jews, like still other non-Jews, are anti-Zionists who oppose Israel to one degree or another, including its very existence.

      Among those two latter groups of Jews and non-Jews, there are some who hold that it is simply not possible to be both pro-America and pro-Israel, that the two interests are mutually exclusive.

      Even assuming that Democrats, like Republicans, hate everything about America, it doesn’t follow that their criticism of the Israel lobby’s influence on American politics is invalid.

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