Historically, I don’t believe America has served its worldwide interests by isolationism. After almost a year in office, Mr. Trump (I still have a problem seeing him as President) seems to have adopted that route, underwritten with a by-line that says, America First. I’ve been a Conservative all my life, but today’s policies line up less and less with my sympathies. They say, as you get older, you lean further to the left and while I’m a long way from being a red under the bed, his administration is testing life-long loyalties. I wouldn’t mind betting I’m one of hundreds of thousands feeling the same way. Let’s take China. It used to be, by creed as communists, an isolated nation, snubbing its nose at the rest of the world and caring not one jot about pollution or global warming or even the fate of its very own population. Under Xi-Jinping, they now face outward toward a world they see as the provider of opportunity and growth. They’re making alliances and trade deals all over, especially where mineral resources are rich and, as yet untapped. Much of Africa is being courted while we treat it as a backwater. South America is much the same while we push back those that should be our close industrial allies. China is building modern infrastructure that is efficient, much less dependent on fossil fuels and technology that may not yet lead the way but they’re willing to pay for fertile minds to get them on the forefront of every technical development. They may have served the world as a low-cost provider of commodities and finished products because of a cheap workforce, but their commitment to robotic engineering, nanotechnology, solar and hydropower will keep them in that competitive position for a long time yet. The size of their own population, growing richer by the minute, is fueling monetary strength and growth. It owns $1.2 trillion of American debt and holds outstanding debt all over the world. That can be bonus or burden, depending on political winds. I’m not so sure we have a good sense or feel of direction of those winds. This administration seems to think that flipping the bird at other countries is sufficient to exert authority. Not so. Ittakes years of building trust through talented channels of diplomats in their outposts – our ears and eyes on the rest of the world. How many times in the recent past have we misread situations to our detriment and the loss of American lives? I don’t think we’ve effectively had our ears to the global ground since Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell (George Bush pushed him into a corner over Iraq that ended a fabulous career – I believe he could and should have been our first African-American president). I don’t know whether to revile Rex Tillerson or feel sorry for him. As a civil engineer, he seems better at pulling things apart rather than building them. The State Department is in tatters and diplomats are resigning rather than work for him. Still, I blame Trump. At every turn he wants to buy a dog but bark himself! The whole situation over North Korea is out of control; a festering sore that could prove fatal. It only gets worse when you keep touching it and the infection grows. Kim Jong Un needs special attention by professional people who know what the heck they’re doing. Trump needs to stay aloof but then he can’t even spell that! Storming off the international stage in a huff, as with the Paris Climate Agreement or the Trans Pacific Partnership (on trade and tariffs) doesn’t endear America to the rest of the world. We’re at the risk of becoming a pariah; a reversal of the role we’ve had in the past as developer and peacemaker. On immigration: I’m an immigrant and did well for myself along with thousands of others that worked for the company I helped found back in 1982. Enough said on that! Let’s hope that this year doesn’t start out with a bang. America will be first when, and only when, it is the best. We have some work to do.