No less confounding was the president’s insistence that “we must integrate every dimension of our national strength and we must compete with every instrument of our national power.” This is certainly a desirable objective, but one that Mr. Trump and his secretary of state are doing their best to prevent by eviscerating the State Department and its core diplomatic functions with budget cuts of 30 percent, forcing out senior diplomats and freezing hiring.
The document is replete with commitments to American principles like the rule of law, equal rights and freedom of religion and the press, all described as a “lasting force for good in the world” — and all, in one way or another, under fire from Mr. Trump and his allies with their incessant denigration of the special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, federal judges, Muslims and the media.
Further, even as the document emphasizes the importance to global stability of allies, partners and leading international organizations, Mr. Trump boasts of America’s importance in ways that seem to reduce other institutions and nations to secondary status. “We are declaring that America is in the game and America is going to win,” he said.
We are not sure that Mr. Trump has any idea what he means by winning. What we do know is that his boastfulness and belligerence and tendency to self-aggrandizement are not only costing America worldwide support, but also isolating it. Case in point: the vote Monday by the 14 other United Nations Security Council members for a resolution demanding that the United States rescind its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move its embassy there. The United States used its veto power to kill the measure. On Thursday, however, the repudiation of Mr. Trump was complete after the General Assembly, where Washington has no veto, voted 128 to 9 with 35 abstentions to approve a similar resolution.
The overwhelming majority of member nations thus defied Mr. Trump’s threats to withhold aid from countries backing the resolution. Only small states allied with the United States and Israel voted against the resolution: Guatemala, Honduras, Palau, Nauru, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Togo. Most of the top American aid recipients — Egypt, Jordan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq — voted for it. A Pew Research Center poll shows that international confidence in American leadership has plummeted.
Even in the fiercely competitive world that Mr. Trump envisions, keeping America safe is not a game, a zero-sum calculus or something with a definable end. It is an arduous process requiring global cooperation, diplomatic skill and attentiveness, not constant saber-rattling and braggadocio. The strategy largely recognizes that. In word and deed, the president does not.