Carl Bankston at Front Porch Republic asks the question. First he stakes out a broad isolationist position:
There are good reasons, moreover, to question whether having some nations strive to position themselves as global leaders is necessarily a good thing. Internationally, rather than seeing the domestic challenges of other nations as impediments to their direction of regional or global events, we should see their concentration on their own internal issues as paying attention to their proper business.
Then, he tells us that internationalism leads inexorably to a strong central state:
…a globalizing state has hollowed out its own base by drawing all energies toward the center…
That’s true so far as it goes. But, not so on the other side of the coin. Recognizing that a central state dominating local institutions is negative is not the same as concluding that we need to withdraw from the world. The flaw here is that support for local institutions is not automatically an isolationist policy. A nation dependent on strong cities and strong families has much to export, and it should.
There are gains from trade between Monterrey, Mexico and Houston, Texas without Mexico City and Washington, DC getting involved. There is, I suspect, very little either capital could do to prevent products going back and forth between the two cities. A policy to devolve power to individual cities would not necessarily also include adding trade barriers. Decentralization would be just as likely to increase globalization if we also removed trade barriers.