Sherwin Pomerantz

America Was Never a Doormat — A Response to Dov Hikind

I must take 100% exception to the title and tone of New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind’s post on January 4th, entitled “America is No Longer a Doormat.”

In a six paragraph essay extolling President Trump, he makes the point that the president’s tweets notwithstanding, the president has succeeded in re-establishing America’s leadership in the diplomatic world.  To use his words:  “President Trump’s foreign policies have been exceptional — even more so when contrasted with those of the Obama administration, which eroded our position of leadership on the world stage.”

He continues: “Donald Trump’s first year in office may not have made America as great as it once was, nor as great as we know it can be, but foreign policy-wise, he has allowed America to show leadership and re-take a moral, pragmatic high ground. Having to suffer the embarrassment of a fountain of tweets better left un-tweeted is a small price to pay for such leadership.”

First of all, it is disingenuous for Hikind to only compare Trump’s foreign policies which appear good for Israel to Obama’s which many feel were not in Israel’s interests.  What Hikind failed to do was compare Trump’s foreign policies to the 70 years of American diplomacy after World War II where the United States led the western world in crafting a world society of relative stability and, most often, was highly respected for that.

Sure, people today can complain that the United States picks up too much of its share of the burden of supporting the UN.  But Hikind needs to remember that at the end of World War II America was the only country in the west that emerged more or less unscathed from the physical destruction caused by that war.  It was the only country that still had sufficient economic power to take the lead in backing the operation of the UN and so it stepped up to the plate and did what had to be done.  Is it time now to re-examine this?  For sure, but not with bombast and tweets, rather by sitting down with the nations of the world and discussing creative ways to address the issue.

The same argument can be made for the establishment of NATO.  Europe and the Americas needed a mutual defense organization that would ensure against a repetition of the events that led to two world wars in 30 years.  America, once again, accepted its leadership role and shouldered the bulk of the burden in the face of a devastated Europe.

Over those 70 years international alliances were developed in the areas of trade, monetary policy, defense and the challenge of an increasingly large carbon footprint that threatens the life of the planet on which we live.  Those achievements, spanning multiple administrations, both democrat and republican, are things of which every America can be proud.  I certainly am.

In the past year the current president unilaterally tore into just about every one of those achievements and withdrew America’s support for many of them.  As a result the political leadership of the rest of the world has lost faith in America as a reliable partner and new personalities have filled the void, some of whom have less than honorable intentions when it comes to the west.

America was never a doormat.  Even during the days of the “ugly American” and local wars that the US perhaps should not have supported, America remained the “shining city on the hill” as former President Reagan termed it, a country whose achievements most other countries worked diligently to emulate and to which people from all over the world traveled to in order to experience the American dream.

The current actions of the president towards Israel and the UN may make create a sense of temporary pride in all of us.  But those actions, motivated as they are primarily by a desire to satisfy the body politic that elected him, are not testimony to his foreign policy expertise.  One could even make a logical argument that save for the issue of  pride, they have resulted in nothing positive.  And, as a citizen of Israel, what is worse is that if he is wrong in those actions we here will pay the price.

About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 32 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, regional entities and Invest Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Former Chairperson of the Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and a Board Member of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.