I distinctly remember being taught in high school that what made America great was its big heart and a commitment to democracy and freedom throughout the world. The country of opportunity met you with the words of the Statue of Liberty.
However, with America’s commitment to the IMF and the World Bank after COVID-19 still in question at the White House, I have gone back to when I thought we protected free trade as essential to the spread of democracy and freedom for the world.
Imagine if there had been no Marshall Plan and America had not aggressively led the way to rebuild Europe after the Second World War. That allowed us to create trading partners and free trade and made America and Europe free and able to prosper for the last 80 years.
In college, I was taught that free trade is necessary to build civilization. Free trade is like the blood flow through a healthy body.
I may have gotten it wrong, but I think without free trade there would be no America to “Make Great Again.”
Ten years ago, I visited Syria. The Syria that no longer exists. Entire cities have been wiped out since I was there.
Back then, I fell in love with the beauty of a pre-Roman city of Palmyra and its history.
Northeast of Damascus, it survived because it was at an oasis at the crossroads of trade routes in the desert.
Years ago, it was a burgeoning metropolis of peoples and civilizations. There were times when it was a nation-state and times when it was a city within the ever-changing powers of the region. Its independence depended largely on the prosperity opened to it by free trade.
From the beginning, America has been an oasis of natural resources, protected by our two oceans from the dictators or monarchies of the rest of the world.
As a new nation, I was taught, we became an oasis of constitutional freedom with trade between the states, to became a force in the world. Have our oceans and self-confidence become a curse now? We hear only the voice of the growing isolationism, of “America first.”
Over the last three years, it seems we have not been able to admit or see that we are falling behind and doing everything but making America great again.
I am certain I can still remember when America’s foreign policy was about keeping our oasis safe and the world safe for freedom and democracy.
Anyway, I attach these 10-year-old pictures of Palmyra. You can ride a camel there.