Uncle Sam is getting pushed around by the rest of the world, and we aren’t going to take it anymore. That is the gist of President Trump’s “America First” doctrine. But let’s cut No. 45 some slack. He is not the first to chop away at the made-in-the-USA global order designed by Harry S. Truman 70 years ago. Pride of place must go to No. 44, Barack Obama.
What, that exemplar of internationalist virtue? True, President Obama did not trumpet “America First.” His standard shibboleth was “It’s time for a little nation-building at home,” echoing George McGovern’s “Come home, America!” from 1972. Let’s lay down the burden and mend crumbling bridges and failing schools, Mr. Obama suggested. Cut to Mr. Trump, who wants to invest $1 trillion in the domestic infrastructure.
Come home or To hell with you—either way, the message reads: The world’s housekeeper will now look out for No. 1. So Mr. Trump keeps bullying the allies on defense spending, demanding zillions in back pay for the security the U.S. has always delivered at a discount. Now listen to Mr. Obama. In a 2016 interview with the Atlantic, he rumbled: “free riders aggravate me.”