America First Shouldn’t Mean America Alone

If Donald Trump can’t play nice with U.S. allies, his presidency could crash and burn in the Horn of Africa.

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Media Outlet: Foreign Policy

Donna Patterson wrote for Foreign Policy in February on why President Trump's "America First" foreign policy shouldn't also mean "America Alone."

In addition to going it alone, Trump’s foreign policy seems to be about shirking liberal values like democracy, human rights, and good governance in favor of short-term, security-based bargains with individual states. Of course, the commitment of previous administrations to liberal values has often been little more than rhetorical. But where they have been the most successful in projecting American power — especially in the Horn of Africa — they have fostered robust and stable institutions in partner countries. By contrast, the American military and diplomatic corps have tended to be most ineffective in Africa when institutions have broken down and the political terrain has become fractured and opaque, as they very well might under the influence of a White House that cares little for democratic values.


Donna A. Patterson is a fellow with New America’s International Security program. Patterson is an associate professor of history and director of Africana Studies at Delaware State University.