James Seroka

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Professor, Auburn University, USA


The 2016 Presidential Election in the United States and the Resurgence of “American Nationalism” in Foreign Policy Decision-making

The author analyzes the resurgence of “American Nationalism” in the context of Donald Trump’s electoral victory in November 2016. He argues that elections of 2016 have underscored that the United States may be charting a course in which it increasingly pursues its national interests autonomously from the global networks and relationships that had characterized U.S. foreign and national security policies since the conclusion of World War II. In this view, U.S. foreign policy should become an extension of domestic politics and should be assessed primarily in what it delivers to Americans, not to the world community or to the neoliberal internationalist order. For the American public, the high expectations for America that they associated with the ethos of the exceptional nation clashed with the perceived loss of international stature and strength following the cold war and dissemination of the neoliberal internationalist order.  From this perspective, America’s allies were no longer reliable friends, our position in the world was deteriorating, our communities were falling apart, the world was becoming increasingly hostile, and our future promised more of the same. In essence, presidential candidate Donald Trump found a ready audience in his arguments that U.S. foreign policy was a complete failure, that integration in the world was a loss for the country, that America was disrespected in the world, and that it was imperative for the country to turn itself around. President-elect Trump’s vision of an American Nationalist foreign policy, suggests that the United States will be devising different rules, pursuing different objectives, and employing different tools than in the past.