The Trump Doctrine- America First: Freedom & Fair Trade

Jim Hanson

1 year ago

June 19, 2018

The Trump Administration has a plan and is working diligently and successfully to implement it both at home and around the world. It has been articulated multiple times as America First, perhaps most expansively in the National Security Strategy released last year.

Security Studies Group Sr. VP Brad Patty is nearly finished with a proposed Grand Strategy for the United States based on what, per custom, will be known as the Trump Doctrine. We will submit this to the White House privately as it contains specific advice regarding sensitive issues. Once we have done that, we will edit it into a publicly released document.

But we want to give a brief overview of the concepts that make up this strategy and expand on the Trump Doctrine overall.

America First: Freedom and Fair Trade

President Trump’s doctrine is to advance the interests of the United States with a strategy of America First: Freedom and Fair Trade.

The US supports helping ordinary people around the world better govern their own lives. You can better govern your own life if you have a real say in how your government is run. You can also better govern your own life if you have personal wealth, so that you can live as you wish.


The US has a national interest in more countries allowing their people to exercise personal liberty. Free people who can create and operate governments that serve their interests cause far less trouble than those run by tyrants, autocrats, or theocrats.

This does not mean we should be toppling any regime that oppresses its people, nor nation-building. Rather, we should evaluate our interactions with other nations based on these principles and reward those moving in the proper direction. Which points to another refreshing aspect of President Trump’s leadership style: He rewards our friends and punishes our enemies. We have many tools in the whole of America toolbox and we can use all of them to influence bad actors to change their ways.

Fair Trade

US interactions with other nations should initially be judged based on how the other nation treats us. Do they treat us fairly and as friends? If so it is easy for us to reciprocate. If they do not treat us as friends, then the question is: Can we change their behavior and incent them to do so, or should we punish them for damages they do to us or our other friends?

President Trump made a vital point during the G7 Summit when he said ideally there should be no tariffs among friends. This not only makes trade free and fair, but eliminates the need for stifling trans-national bureaucracies to adjudicate disputes.

It is also crucial to measure success by personal wealth, rather than by the GDP of states.  The “Fair Trade” policy is about enriching the ordinary man, not governments, or corporate bodies or empowering trans-national organizations. This is another place President Trump has been advancing this doctrine all along. He naturally distrusts many multinational treaties and agreements as they benefit the smaller nations as they can band together against the US.

President Trump has stated a preference for bilateral agreements. This is a wise approach, as it allows us to strike good deals for the US when bargaining with individual nations rather than conglomerates. Multi-national or trans-national organizations complicate negotiations compared to one-on-one discussions. The interactions between different members of a coalition make a precise determination of the best course difficult.

Therefore, it often makes sense for the US to deal with individual nations.

America First

Another aspect that we should not allow to influence US decision-making is the ever popular “will of the international community”. First of all, there is no international community, there are blocs of nations or groups that seek to achieve one of their national or what they consider their collective interest. We must not allow this to influence the US toward arrangements that damage our national interests.

America First is a great way to determine if we are doing this. If we look at a potential action or reaction to see whether it serves our interests first before we then look to see how it affects others, then we are properly operating as a nation state. That does not mean we act in isolation or do not concern ourselves with the rest of the countries, organizations and peoples of the world. But we should not put them first. We cannot be one among many and subordinate the good of America to anyone or anything.

The upside of this is that what is good for America is quite often what is good for the mythical global community anyhow. A strong America has kept global trade flowing, held nuclear powers in check and deterred many acts of aggression for decades. The US may not be the world’s policeman, but when major conflicts arise the phone rings at the Pentagon.

And while there are other economies of note, the largest and most important remains that of the United States. America First ensures that will continue and that benefits all of us in this country and the world as well.


A strategy that places America First through Freedom and Fair Trade is the most effective way to use the strengths of the United States to advance our national interests.

About the Author

Jim Hanson

Jim served in US Army Special Forces and conducted Counter-Terrorism, Counter-Insurgency as well as Diplomatic, Intelligence and Humanitarian operations in more than a dozen countries. He is the author of Cut Down the Black Flag – A Plan to Defeat the Islamic State, and has appeared on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, BBC, Al Jazeera, Deutsche Welle, C-Span, and numerous national radio shows.