Commentary: Trump points out signs of American decline

There’s no end to the commentary that warns us off Donald Trump! Boastfulness, bigotry, racism, genderism, and fear-mongering are but a few of the attributes which his critics assign to him.

But I believe there is a much larger picture out there, one that critics do not seem to see: the issues facing America are considerably more serious than Trump’s earthiness! And, thank heavens, he never hesitates to point them out:  an escalating national debt, enormous trade imbalances, business and job flight, foreign and domestic security threats, an increasingly draining welfare system, a feckless defense strategy, and the promiscuous entry of immigrants who remain in the United States only to take American jobs or become public charges.

More forcefully than either of his Republican or future Democratic opponents, Trump calls these issues what they are: signs of American decline, issues that must be resolved,  issues that are endemic to both Democratic and past Republican administrations,

And clear-eyed Americans, for whom employment, education and the maintenance of living standards are becoming problematical, are wising up. They see that the future will not be turned around by all the “free” redistributions promised by Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton,  by neglect of the border or by such sympathy that Jeb Bush bestowed upon illegal immigration, calling it an “act of love.”

A rich example of present American weakness, one ready-made for Trump’s reviewing, are our recent agreements with Cuba:

• Cuba access to the international banking system.

• Resumption of U.S.-Cuban commercial flights and direct mail services.

• Cubans authorized to earn U.S salaries, whether paid here or in Cuba.

• Cubans authorized to open U.S. bank accounts, to send remittances back home.

• U.S. companies permitted to manufacture in Cuba.

This fits the now famous Trump paradigm of American foreign policy “incompetence” —  giving and giving, but receiving nothing in return. National Security adviser Susan Rice summed up well the strategy that Trump labels “not winning.” Speaking before the Atlantic Council on March 17, Rice said: “We know that change will not come to Cuba overnight.”

Questions: why then are we exporting capital, companies and jobs to Cuba?  And what did we receive in return?  Have these agreements resulted, for example, in human rights improvements for the Cuban people, say, in freedom of travel, press, expression, conscience, religion and the like? Have we obtained for any American company going there stable Cuban guarantees concerning ownership, taxes, arbitration, hiring and the repatriation of profits?

No, Castro is simply pocketing our concessions without reciprocation, using them and the impact of a U.S. president’s presence to make the Communist regime stronger.

My point: those in whom Trump produces righteous meltdown should not forget what they should already know:  protecting and preserving the United States is not Sunday schooling. Rather, it requires hard bargaining for advantage by patriots firmly resolved to act in America’s best interests.  I think Trump would agree that such “deal-making” is far beyond the “citizens of the world” now in charge in Washington.

Richard Hoover is a retired Foreign Service officer who resides in southern Warren County.