After a hectic day in which he rattled an entire continent with his threat to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement, President Donald Trump made the seemingly contradictory claim: “I’m a nationalist and a globalist.”
The terms are often situated opposite each other: nationalists favor protectionist measures like tariffs and border walls, both of which Trump has advocated. Globalists support the free movement of people and capital.
Trump’s threat to terminate NAFTA — he was eventually convinced not to pursue the matter, in favor of simply renegotiating the deal — was another example of nationalist muscle-flexing. In his closing campaign ad before the 2016 election, widely criticized as anti-Semitic, Trump decried “global interests,” and “a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.”
But Trump, especially since taking office, has projected U.S. economic and military power globally himself. His administration is teeming with billionaire bankers. After endlessly pledging to label China a currency manipulator, he said he would rather have their cooperation in dealing with North Korea. He recently voiced support for the export-import bank, which finances businesses to sell their products overseas. He ordered a missile strike against a Syrian airfield.
There is a reported split in Trump’s administration between nationalists (Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller) and globalists (Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus).
Asked about that split in an interview with the Wall Street Journal Thursday, Trump dismissed the idea.
“Hey, I’m a nationalist and a globalist,” he said. “I’m both. And I’m the only one who makes the decision, believe me.”