It opens with:
This week, two of Donald Trump’s top advisers, H. R. McMaster and Gary Cohn, wrote the following passage in The Wall Street Journal: “The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a cleareyed outlook that the world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage.”And closes with:
I wish H. R. McMaster was a better student of Thucydides. He’d know that the Athenians adopted the same amoral tone he embraces: “The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” The Athenians ended up making endless enemies and destroying their own empire.America under Bush and Obama was Athens, a nation with "alliances" of nations who contribute hardly any material support, but pay tribute. The standing of the U.S. kept falling because allies didn't agree with the wars it was starting. Athens was destroyed because it's large formal alliance proved to be an illusion. Sparta's loose coalition proved stronger when push came to shove.
Brooks also makes an appeal to altruism. Athens claimed it was being altruistic as well! America's Empire has probably been more genuinely altruistic, but I refer you to C.S. Lewis:
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.We're already seeing the response of Hungary and Poland to the EU's migrant demands and the Philippines pushing the U.S. away. Thailand and South Korea move closer to China. America's Greatest Allies, the U.K., Canada and Australia tire of the endless wars.
The final irony is Trump we are in the middle of a long-term populist wave. These populists with either be anti-American and hasten the demise of NATO, or they will be more like Poland and Hungary, preferring to deal with a Spartan America rather than an Athenian America.