To the Editor:
ABE GREENWALD is right in saying that freedom is not self-perpetuating (“Is This the End of the ‘Free World’?” June), but a minimal examination of the particular cats Donald Trump is kicking shows that a lot of people who should have been safeguarding democratic freedom apparently had neither the stomach nor the skill for the job. Maybe Trump is to blame here, but maybe, as Pogo famously stated, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
Gilbert R. Sandgren
Green Bay, Wisconsin
To the Editor:
THE PROBLEM with the mutually beneficial trade deals that Abe Greenwald mentions is that jobs are traded for political and military advantages to the United States, and these supposed advantages do not go to the people losing jobs. Just ask any one in the automotive, steel, textile, furniture, or electronics industries whose jobs were traded away.
Additionally, South Korea is capable of defending itself. It is interesting that Seoul’s objection to THAAD has to do with paying for it. Would it not be more honest to call South Korea and Europe dependencies rather than allies? Israel is an actual ally that’s willing to defend itself without asking the United States to defend it instead.
Abe Greenwald writes:
I AGREE WITH Gilbert R. Sandgren that the United States and its democratic allies have not been doing all they can to safeguard political freedom throughout the world. This problem got worse particularly after the most difficult years of the Iraq War. Foreign intervention of all sorts became associated with quixotic endeavors and, worse, with American war dead. As I stated in my article, Donald Trump did not initiate our pivot away from the Free World and all it stands for. He has, however, dramatically weakened America’s relationships with its democratic allies. And it’s hard to see what good comes from that. He has exacerbated a dangerous trend. What’s more, it looks, at the moment, as if the State Department is officially changing its statement of purpose to erase any mention of building a more democratic world. This, in concert with much else Trump is doing, will send a clear signal to the enemies of political freedom that the United States has let down its guard. We can expect illiberal actors to take advantage of this opening and chip away at political freedom in countries where it is most fragile.
I must disagree with Joe Mahoney. Free trade benefits Americans up and down the economic ladder. It fends off a trade war that would both raise consumer prices on imported goods and put people out of work as a result of reduced exports. Free trade won’t cure what’s ailing the American working class, but less free trade would do great harm to American workers.
Regarding South Korea, the United States has treaty obligations by which it must abide. That’s why more than 20,000 Americans in uniform are stationed in South Korea. This now means, among other things, that bolstering South Korea’s defense against the North is serving to protect American troops. In addition, the Kim regime is getting ever closer to perfecting a nuclear warhead and ballistic missile capable of reaching a range of American cities. In the 21st century, it’s hard to think of a more vital American security initiative than opposing Kim Jong-un’s every military ambition.