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National Security & Defense

Gorka: America First Is the ‘Antithesis of the Last Eight Years’

At the National Review Institute’s Ideas Summit, Sebastian Gorka, the deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, sat alongside National Review’s editor-at-large John O’Sullivan and American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Auslin to discuss the role of the U.S. in the world.

Gorka told National Review’s Andrew McCarthy, who moderated the panel, that “America First” is the “antithesis of the last eight years”; “leading from behind” simply means “following,” and “the world is safer when America is leading.” If America doesn’t uphold its position as a world leader, Gorka submitted, another nation will fill the void.

President Trump understands that we are at war with Radical Islam, Gorka explained. “He wants to win that war.”

Answering a question about the recent rise in populism, Gorka countered that we must “find a new word.” In fact, he suggested, so-called “populist” movements across the world are springing up because political elites have taken to acting as if they are more intelligent than the average voter. He pointed particularly to the consolidated political power in Brussels, which European countries are increasingly rejecting, and to elite culture here in the United States.

“The Trump Train is the reassertion of democracy,” Gorka said. Laughing, McCarthy fired back, “then the Ninth Circuit says, ‘oh yea?’” (in reference to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals blocking Trump’s travel-ban executive order).

Gorka praised Trump’s executive order that placed a temporary travel ban on anyone traveling to the U.S. from six Muslim-majority countries inundated with militant Islam. Holding up a U.S. Constitution, he said he would advocate letting anyone into the U.S. as long as he or she respects the document that our country was founded upon.

McCarthy also asked questions pertaining to NATO and TPP. “I think the president is going to end up supporting NATO,” O’Sullivan said, as he discussed the intergovernmental military alliance that Trump contends is “obsolete.” “Whatever we do with Russia, it cannot be at the sacrifice of Ukraine. That would undercut all of the other good things we would be doing with NATO and our other allies.”

Turning to the topic of TPP, Auslin, a proponent of TPP, suggested that Trump had it right. “Free trade is fair trade,” he said. “If we get bilateral agreements, then that’s the way to go.”

Austin YackAustin Yack is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute and a University of California, Santa Barbara alumnus.

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