Tags: Trump Administration | Donald Trump | ISIS/Islamic State | War on Terrorism | trump | foreign | policy

Review of Trump's Foreign Policy

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Monday, 09 May 2016 01:03 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Now that Trump is the presumptive Republican candidate for president, a review of his recent foreign policy position seems warranted. Trump played his presidential “part” well, to paraphrase his newly appointed aide, Paul Manafort in a speech that was a serious attempt to articulate his foreign policy stance.

Leave aside the fact that Mr. Trump contradicted positions he adopted in the past such as supporting the war in Iraq and the bombing of Libya. Now he claims to be “prescient” in opposing the Iraq war from the outset. Of course, political campaigns often rely on personal amnesia. What is important is what he is saying, not what he said.

In suggesting that the first and overarching responsibility of a president is the protection of the American people he is stating the obvious, but it is a point that should be made and reiterated. He also emphasized “America first,” words that remind us of Charles Lindberg and isolationist sentiments. Yet Trump understands, as Lord Palmerston once noted, that national interest is the basis of foreign policy. Perhaps most notably, he maintained that “we are getting out of the nation building business.” Alas, attempting to impose our form of democracy on nations without an appropriate political infrastructure is doomed from the outset.

Where, I believe, Trump veers wrong is in his argument against the siren song of globalism. Surely our national interest should come first, but so much of that interest is inextricably tied to global matters in the form of regional alliances and bilateral agreements. Yes, we should encourage NATO nations to contribute more to European defense. That has been said before and should be said again. But the United Kingdom’s contribution — limited as it is — is more than other NATO states. The blanket criticism ignores this condition.

Similarly, the Japanese contribute $2 billion for the presence of American forces in Okinawa. That sum is larger than what it would take to keep the same size land force in the United States.

Then there is the naïve view that we can ease tensions with Russia and China through negotiations. Mr. Trump seems to ignore the fact that China has created unilaterally an air perimeter zone in the South China Sea as large as the Mediterranean that challenges trade in the region and contested island claims from the Spratleys to Senkaku. Will words force the Chinese to relent? Russia has placed its holding card in Syria with a naval base and reinforced air base. Is there a position that would encourage Putin to walk away from this commitment?

The facile claim about the defeat of ISIS overlooks the chaotic conditions in the Middle East with terrorism the strategic position of several groups including al-Qaida, the Quds forces of Iran, Hezbollah, et al. Victory over all these groups should be our goal, but victory in this era really means diminishing the capacity of the enemy — wearing him down over time.

Yet, despite the flaws, contradictions and naiveté in this speech, Trump did make the critical point that the present Obama policy is “reckless, rudderless and aimless.” That is not only true, it is the “red meat” conservative leaning national security experts want to hear. The question they are left with is whether a Trump, who often contradicts himself and who has engaged in outrageous claims, can be any less reckless than the man he hopes to replace. On that matter, the public has to wait and pray and Republicans at the national convention have to evaluate.


Herbert London is the president of the London Center for Policy Research and author of the books "America's Secular Challenge" (Encounter Books) and "The Transformational Decade" (University Press of America). Read more reports from Herbert London — Click Here Now.



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HerbertLondon
Now that Trump is the presumptive Republican candidate for president, a review of his recent foreign policy position seems warranted.
trump, foreign, policy, president
622
2016-03-09
Monday, 09 May 2016 01:03 PM
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