Tags: donald trump | war | syria | isolationist | hawk

Professor: Trump the Latest President to Go From Near Isolationist to Hawk

Image: Professor: Trump the Latest President to Go From Near Isolationist to Hawk
President Donald Trump (AP Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 11 Apr 2017 08:29 AM

Donald Trump is not the first president to campaign on peace, but find himself caught up in a war.

"He sounded almost isolationist at times (during the campaign) in his insistence that the country would not rush to war and would seek to avoid entanglements in defense and trade," Julia Azari, an associate professor of political science at Marquette University, writes in an article for FiveThirtyEight.

"At several points, he spoke out against the idea of intervening in Syria, specifically. But it took less than three months in office for Trump to change directions and get involved in Syria."

Her comments follow a Trump-ordered missile strike against a Syrian airbase.

Fifty-nine missiles were fired at the base, where the U.S. says President Bashar al-Assad deployed planes that launched a chemical weapons attack on Syrian citizens.

"Trump is hardly the first president to campaign on peace and govern in war," Azari says.

She notes that Barack Obama, who did not campaign as an isolationist, but captured the Democratic nomination based partly on his opposition to the Iraq war had vowed to avoid "dumb wars."

But Obama came under fire from some for not quickly ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, his use of drone strikes and for ordering airstrikes in Libya in 2011, Azari says.

And she points out other presidents have found themselves in similar situations, including Lyndon Johnson, who "ran on a promise not to expand the conflict in Vietnam and then did just that."

"Perhaps the starkest historical example is Woodrow Wilson's 1916 re-election campaign slogan: ‘He kept us out of the war.' In 1917, the United States declared war on Germany and joined World War I."

She adds: "For one thing, presidents often learn that foreign policy looks more complicated from the Situation Room than on the campaign trail. There are few costs to candidates for talking about avoiding or getting out of unpopular conflicts."

But she says there are political risks if Trump continues military action in Syria.

"Recent history suggests, however, that voters sour on military action the longer it continues," she writes. "If Trump pursues this course in Syria, it will likely open up opportunities for other candidates to enter the 2020 field with promises to end the fighting."

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Donald Trump is not the first president to campaign on peace, but find himself caught up in a war.
donald trump, war, syria, isolationist, hawk
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2017-29-11
Tuesday, 11 Apr 2017 08:29 AM
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