I’ve just listened to the Donald’s foreign policy speech. It was excellent. Informed. Measured. OK, a bit ambitious. But it reflected more understanding of how the world works and of a strong but reasonable approach to protecting Americans and American interests in that world than anyone has heard from Donald to this point. (And I liked the complete sentences.) Where the hell has this been? This is Jekyll to Donald’s usual Hyde.
Of course it was a prepared speech, written by someone else. (Perhaps this speechwriter should replace John François Kerry at State.) But Trump gave every indication of both understanding and believing what he was saying. The Big Question left is whether Trump is too big of a flake to live up to executing his own speech in office. Like Frost’s night traveler and fan of falling snow in “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” Trump has miles to go before convincing his many doubters. But this could be a start.
Trump’s Foreign Policy Speech Sounded Like He Was Cramming for a High School History Quiz;
Like President Obama, Trump likes to brag that Iraq was a dumb war. But as long as Trump takes the standard Michael Moore/Noam Chomsky position that President Bush lied about WMDs it’s hard for me to take anything he says about Iraq seriously. It’s all well and good to say that going into Iraq was a mistake. But that fact is we’re there and we’ll need to stay there if we want to defeat ISIS. As for ISIS, Trump says “their days are numbered.” It’s a nice soundbyte, but given that ISIS is recruiting people from all over the world including this country it is not a battle that will be won overnight. Even if Trump somehow devises a strategy that dispatches ISIS there will be another radical Islamic entity to take its place.
Now it’s true that Trump said “we need a long-term plan to halt the spread and reach of radical Islam” and that it “must be a major foreign policy goal of the United States and indeed the world.” I certainly agree with such a foreign policy objective. But how does Trump suggest we go about it? By “working very closely with our allies in the Muslim world.” Presumably those allies would include Saudi Arabia which has exported much of the world’s jihadism through mosques and madrassas they have funded in the U.S. and throughout The West which are steeped in the ideology of Wahhabism. I don’t see how we stop the spread of radical Islam if we work with the people whose raison d’etre is to spread radical Islam in The West including those responsible for the September 11th attacks.
Then there is Iran. Trump once again called the Iran nuclear deal “disastrous”. But Trump did not indicate if he would simply abrogate the deal or renegotiate it. I suspect he would do the latter. In which case, what makes Trump think they will negotiate in good faith with him any more than they did with Obama?
While Trump correctly criticized the Obama Administration’s treatment of Israel, Trump himself has been equally critical of The Jewish State. It was only last December that Trump publicly told the Republican Jewish Coalition that he did not believe Benjamin Netanyahu was serious about peace while offering no criticism of the Palestinians.
It would also seem that Trump wants a reset of his own with Russia. “I believe an easing of tensions, and improved relations with Russia from a position of strength only is possible, absolutely possible,” said Trump, “Common sense says this cycle, this horrible cycle of hostility must end and ideally will end soon. Good for both countries.
Utilizing the term “cycle of hostility” implies a moral equivalence between American behavior and Russian behavior in Ukraine, Crimea not to mention their jets buzzing our warships in The Baltic Sea this month. Sure Trump criticizes President Obama for abandoning ballistic missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic, but he gave no indication that he would be prepared to restore those sites. Given his mancrush on Vladimir Putin, I think it is highly unlikely.
I trust Donald Trump on foreign policy no more than I trust him to refrain from some nasty things on Twitter.