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Peace Through Trump?

Donald Trump played a wily capitalistic trick on his Republican opponents in the primary fights this year—he served an underserved market.

By now it’s a cliché that Trump, while on his way to the GOP nomination, tapped into an unnoticed reservoir of right-of-center opinion on domestic and economic concerns—namely, the populist-nationalists who felt left out of the reigning market-libertarianism of the last few decades. 

Indeed, of the 17 Republicans who ran this year, Trump had mostly to himself the populist issues: that is, opposition to open borders, to free trade, and to earned-entitlement cutting. When the other candidates were zigging toward the familiar—and unpopular—Chamber of Commerce-approved orthodoxy, Trump was zagging toward the voters.

Moreover, the same sort of populist-nationalist reservoir-tapping was evident in the realm of foreign affairs. To put it in bluntly Trumpian terms, the New Yorker hit ’em where they weren’t.

The fact that Trump was doing something dramatically different became clear in the make-or-break Republican debate in Greenville, S.C., on February 13. Back in those early days of the campaign, Trump had lost one contest (Iowa) and won one (New Hampshire), and it was still anybody’s guess who would emerge victorious.

During that debate, Trump took what seemed to be an extraordinary gamble: he ripped into George W. Bush’s national-security record—in a state where the 43rd president was still popular. Speaking of the Iraq War, Trump said, “George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East.”

And then Trump went further, aiming indirectly at the former president, while slugging his brother Jeb directly: “The World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign, remember that.”

In response, Jeb intoned the usual Republican line, “He kept us safe.” And others on the stage in Greenville that night rushed to associate themselves with Bush 43.

In the aftermath of this verbal melee, many thought that Trump had doomed himself. As one unnamed Republican “strategist” chortled to Politico, “Trump’s attack on President George W. Bush was galactic-level stupid in South Carolina.”

Well, not quite: Trump triumphed in the Palmetto State primary a week later, winning by a 10-point margin.

Thus, as we can see in retrospect, something had changed within the GOP. After 9/11, in the early years of this century, South Carolinians had been eager to fight. Yet by the middle of the second decade, they—or at least a plurality of them—had grown weary of endless foreign war.

Trump’s victory in the Palmetto State was decisive, yet it was nevertheless only a plurality, 32.5 percent. Meanwhile, Sen. Marco Rubio, running as an unabashed neocon hawk, finished second.

So we can see that the Republican foreign-policy “market” is now segmented. And while Trump proved effective at targeting crucial segments, they weren’t the only segments—because, in actuality, there are four easily identifiable blocs on the foreign-policy right. And as we delineate these four segments, we can see that while some are highly organized and tightly articulate, others are loose and inchoate:

First, the libertarians. That is, the Cato Institute and other free-market think tanks, Reason magazine, and so on. Libertarians are not so numerous around the country, but they are strong among the intelligentsia.

Second, the old-right “isolationists.” These folks, also known as “paleocons,” often find common ground with libertarians, yet their origins are different, and so is their outlook. Whereas the libertarians typically have issued a blanket anathema to all foreign entanglements, the isolationists have been more selective. During World War I, for example, their intellectual forbears were hostile to U.S. involvement on the side of the Allies, but that was often because of specifically anti-English or pro-German sentiments, not because they felt guided by an overall principle of non-intervention. Indeed, the same isolationists were often eager to intervene in Latin America and in the Far East. More recently, the temperamentally isolationist bloc has joined with the libertarians in opposition to deeper U.S. involvement in the Middle East.

Third, the traditional hawks. On the proverbial Main Street, USA, plenty of people—not limited to the active-duty military, veterans, and law-enforcers—believe that America’s national honor is worth fighting for.

Fourth, the neoconservatives. This group, which takes hawkishness to an avant-garde extreme, is so praised, and so criticized, that there’s little that needs be added here. Yet we can say this: as with the libertarians, they are concentrated in Washington, DC; by contrast, out beyond the Beltway, they are relatively scarce. Because of their connections to big donors to both parties, however, they have been powerful, even preeminent, in foreign-policy circles over the last quarter-century. Yet today, it’s the neocons who feel most threatened by, and most hostile to, the Trump phenomenon.

We can pause to offer a contextual point: floating somewhere among the first three categories—libertarians, isolationists, hawks—are the foreign-policy realists. These, of course, are the people, following in the tradition of the great scholar Hans Morgenthau, who pride themselves on seeing the world as it is, regarding foreign policy as just another application of Bismarckian wisdom—“the art of the possible.”

The realists, disproportionately academics and think-tankers, are a savvy and well-credentialed group—or, according to critics, cynical and world-weary. Yet either way, they have made many alliances with the aforementioned trio of groups, even as they have usually maintained their ideological flexibility. To borrow the celebrated wisdom of the 19th-century realpolitiker Lord Palmerston, realists don’t have permanent attachments; they have permanent interests. And so it seems likely that if Trump wins—or anyone like Trump in the future—many realists will be willing to emerge from their wood-paneled precincts to engage in the hurly-burly of public service.

Returning to our basic quartet of blocs, we can quickly see that two of them, the libertarians and the neocons, have been loudly successful in the “battle of ideas.” That is, almost everyone knows where the libertarians and the neocons stand on the controversies of the moment. Meanwhile, the other two groups—the isolationists and the traditional hawks—have failed to make themselves heard. That is, until Trump.

For the most part, the isolationists and hawks have not been organized; they’ve just been clusters of veterans, cops, gun owners, and like-minded souls gathering here and there, feeling strongly about the issues but never finding a national megaphone. Indeed, even organized groups, such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, sizable as they might be, have had little impact, of late, on foreign affairs.

This paradoxical reality—that even big groups can be voiceless, allowing smaller groups to carry the day—is well understood. Back in 1839, the historian Thomas Carlyle observed of his Britain, “The speaking classes speak and debate,” while the “deep-buried [working] class lies like an Enceladus”—a mythological giant imprisoned under a volcano. Yet, Carlyle continued, the giant under the volcano will not stay silent forever; one day it will erupt, and the inevitable eruption “has to produce earthquakes!”

In our time, Trump has provoked the Enceladus-like earthquake. Over the past year, while the mainstream media has continued to lavish attention on the fine points of libertarianism and neoconservatism, the Peoples of the Volcano have blown up American politics.

Trump has spoken loudly to both of his groups. To the isolationists, he has highlighted his past opposition to the Iraq and Libya misadventures, as well as his suspicions about NATO and other alliances. (Here the libertarians, too, are on board.) At the same time, he has also talked the language of the hawks, as when he has said, “Take the oil” and “Bomb the [bleep] out of them.” Trump has also attacked the Iran nuclear agreement, deriding it as “one of the worst deals ever made.”

Thus earlier this year Trump mobilized the isolationists and the hawks, leaving the libertarians to Rand Paul and the neocons to Rubio.

Now as we move to the general election, it appears that Trump has kept the loyalty of his core groups. Many libertarians, meanwhile, are voting for Gary Johnson—the former Republican governor at the top of the Libertarian Party’s ticket—and they are being joined, most likely as a one-off, by disaffected Republicans and Democrats. Meanwhile, the neocons, most of them, have become the objective allies, if not the overt supporters, of Hillary Clinton.

Even if Trump loses, his energized supporters, having found their voice, will be a new and important force within the GOP—a force that could make it significantly harder for a future president to, say, “liberate” and “democratize” Syria.

♦♦♦

Yet now we must skip past the unknown unknowns of the election and ask: what might we expect if Trump becomes president?

One immediate point to be borne in mind is that it will be a challenge to fill the cabinet and the sub-cabinet—to say nothing of the thousands of “Schedule C” positions across the administration—with true Trump loyalists. Yes, of course, if Trump wins that means he will have garnered 50 million or more votes, but still, the number of people who have the right credentials and can pass all the background checks—including, for most of the top jobs, Senate confirmation—is minuscule.

So here we might single out the foreign-policy realists as likely having a bright future in a Trump administration: after all, they are often well-credentialed and, by their nature, have prudently tended to keep their anti-Trump commentary to a minimum. (There’s a piece of inside-the-Beltway realist wisdom that seems relevant here: “You’re for what happens.”)

Yet the path to realist dominion in a Trump administration is not smooth. As a group, they have been in eclipse since the Bush 41 era, so an entire generation of their cadres is missing. The realists do not have long lists of age-appropriate alumni ready for another spin through the revolving door.

By contrast, the libertarians have lots of young staffers on some think-tank payroll or another. And of course, the neocons have lots of experience and contacts—yes, they screwed up the last time they were in power, but at least they know the jargon.

Thus, unless president-elect Trump makes a genuinely heroic effort to infuse his administration with new blood, he will end up hiring a lot of folks who might not really agree with him—and who perhaps even have strongly, if quietly, opposed him. That means that the path of a Trump presidency could be channeled in an unexpected direction, as the adherents of other foreign-policy schools—including, conceivably, schools from the left—clamber aboard. As they say in DC, “personnel is policy.”

Still, Trump has a strong personality, and it’s entirely possible that, as president, he will succeed in imprinting his unique will on his appointees. (On the other hand, the career government, starting with the State Department’s foreign service officers, might well prove to be a different story.)

Looking further ahead, as a hypothetical President Trump surveys the situation from the Sit Room, here are nine things that will be in view:

1.

Trump will recall, always, that the Bush 43 presidency drove itself into a ditch on Iraq. So he will surely see the supreme value of not sending U.S. ground troops—beyond a few advisors—into Middle Eastern war zones. 

2.

Trump will also realize that Barack Obama, for all his talk about hope and change, ended up preserving the bulk of Bush 43’s policies. The only difference is that Obama did it on the cheap, reducing defense spending as he went along. 

Obama similar to Bush—really? Yes. To be sure, Obama dropped all of Bush’s democratic messianism, but even with his cool detachment he kept all of Bush’s alliances and commitments, including those in Afghanistan and Iraq. And then he added a new international commitment: “climate change.”

In other words, America now has a policy of “quintuple containment”: Russia, China, Iran, ISIS/al-Qaeda, and, of course, the carbon-dioxide molecule. Many would argue that today we aren’t managing any of these containments well; others insist that the Obama administration, perversely, seems most dedicated to the containment of climate change: everything else can fall apart, but if the Obamans can maintain the illusion of their international CO2 deals, as far as they are concerned all will be well.

In addition, Uncle Sam has another hundred or so minor commitments—including bilateral defense treaties with countries most Americans have never heard of, along with special commitments to champion the rights of children, women, dissidents, endangered species, etc. On a one-by-one basis, it’s possible to admire many of these efforts; on a cumulative basis, it’s impossible to imagine how we can sustain all of them.

3.
A populist president like Trump will further realize that if the U.S. has just 4 percent of the world’s population and barely more than a fifth of world GDP, it’s not possible that we can continue to police the planet. Yes, we have many allies—on paper. Yet Trump’s critique of many of them as feckless, even faithless, resonated for one big reason: it was true.

So Trump will likely begin the process of rethinking U.S. commitments around the world. Do we really want to risk nuclear war over the Spratly Islands? Or the eastern marches of Ukraine? Here, Trump might well default to the wisdom of the realists: big powers are just that—big powers—and so one must deal with them in all their authoritarian essentiality. And as for all the other countries of the world—some we like and some we don’t—we’re not going to change them, either. (Although in some cases, notably Iraq and Syria, partition, supervised by the great powers, may be the only solution.)

4.

Trump will surely see world diplomacy as an extension of what he has done best all his life—making deals. This instinct will serve him well in two ways: first, he will be sharply separating himself from his predecessors, Bush the hot-blooded unilateralist war-of-choicer and Obama the cool and detached multilateralist leader-from-behind. Second, his deal-making desire will inspire him do what needs to be done: build rapport with world leaders as a prelude to making things happen. 

To cite one immediate example: there’s no way that we will ever achieve anything resembling “peace with honor” in Afghanistan without the full cooperation of the Taliban’s masters in Pakistan. Ergo, the needed deal must be struck in Islamabad, not Kabul.

Almost certainly, a President Trump will treat China and Russia as legitimate powers, not as rogue states that must be single-handedly tamed by America.

Moreover, Trump’s deal-making trope also suggests that instead of sacrificing American economic interests on the altar of U.S. “leadership,” he will view the strengthening of the American economy as central to American greatness.

5.

Trump will further realize that his friends the realists have had a blind spot of late when it comes to economic matters. Once upon a time—that is, in the 19th century—economic nationalism was at the forefront of American foreign-policy making. In the old days, as America’s Manifest Destiny stretched beyond the continental U.S., expansionism and Hamiltonianism went together: as they used to say, trade follows the flag. Theodore Roosevelt’s digging of the Panama Canal surely ranks as one of the most successful fusions of foreign and economic policy in American history.

Yet in the past few decades, the economic nationalists and the foreign-policy realists have drifted apart. For example, a Reagan official, Clyde Prestowitz of the Economic Strategy Institute, has been mostly ignored by the realists, who have instead embraced the conventional elite view of free trade and globalization.

So a President Trump will have the opportunity to reunite realism and economic nationalism; he can once again put manufacturing exports, for example, at the top of the U.S. agenda. Indeed, Trump might consider other economic-nationalist gambits: for example, if we are currently defending such wealthy countries as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Norway, why aren’t they investing some of the trillions of dollars in their sovereign-wealth funds into, say, American infrastructure?

6.

Trump will also come into power realizing that he has few friends in the foreign-policy establishment; after all, most establishmentarians opposed him vehemently. Yet that could turn out to be a real plus for the 45th president because it could enable him to discard the stodgy and outworn thinking of the “experts.” In particular, he could refute the prevailing view that the U.S. is, and always must be, the benign hegemon, altruistically policing the world, while allowing its allies, satellites—and even rivals—to manufacture everything and thereby generate the jobs, profits, and knowhow. That was always, of course, a view that elevated the ambitions and pretensions of the American elite over the well-being of the larger U.S. population—and maybe Trump can come up with a better and fairer vision.

7.

As an instinctive deal-maker, Trump will have the capacity to clear away the underbrush of accumulated obsolete doctrines and dogmas. To cite just one small but tragic example, there’s the dopey chain of thinking that has guided U.S. policy toward South Sudan. Today, we officially condemn both sides in that country’s ongoing civil war. Yet we might ask, how can that work out well for American interests? After all, one side or the other is going to win, and we presumably want a friend in Juba, not a Chinese-affiliated foe.

On the larger canvas, Trump will observe that if the U.S., China, and Russia are the three countries capable of destroying the world, then it’s smart to figure out a modus vivendi among this threesome. Such practical deal-making, of course, would undermine the moralistic narrative that Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin are the potentates of new evil empires.

8.

Whether or not he’s currently familiar with the terminology, Trump seems likely to recapitulate the “multipolar” system envisioned by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger in the 1970s. Back then, the multipolar vision included the U.S., the USSR, Western Europe, China, and Japan.

Yet multipolarity was lost in the ’80s, as the American economy was Reaganized, the Cold War grew colder, and the Soviet Union staggered to its self-implosion. Then in the ’90s we had the “unipolar moment,” when the U.S. enjoyed “hyper-power” primacy.

Yet as with all moments, unipolarity soon passed, undone by the Iraq quagmire, America’s economic stagnation, and the rise of other powers. So today, multipolarity seems destined to re-emerge with a slightly upgraded cast of players: the U.S., China, Russia, the European Union, and perhaps India.

9.

And, of course, Trump will have to build that wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.

♦♦♦

thisarticleappears [1]Some might object that I am reading too much into Trump. Indeed, the conventional wisdom, even today, maintains that Trump is visceral, not intellectual, that he is buffoonish, not Kissingerian.

To such critics, this Trump supporter feels compelled to respond: when has the conventional wisdom about the New Yorker been proven correct?

It’s not easy to become president. In all of U.S. history, just 42 individuals have been elected to the presidency—or to the vice presidency and succeeded a fallen president. That is, indeed, an exclusive club. Or as Trump himself might say, it’s not a club for dummies. 

If Trump does, in fact, become the 45th president, then by definition, he will have proven himself to be pretty darn strategic. And that’s a portent that bodes well for his foreign policy.

James P. Pinkerton is a contributor to the Fox News Channel.

27 Comments (Open | Close)

27 Comments To "Peace Through Trump?"

#1 Comment By TR On October 23, 2016 @ 10:39 pm

An extraordinarily impressive piece of work.

#2 Comment By Kurt Gayle On October 24, 2016 @ 12:03 am

Among James Pinkerton’s most compelling reasons to hope for a Trump presidency are these two:

[1] “Almost certainly, a President Trump will treat China and Russia as legitimate powers, not as rogue states that must be single-handedly tamed by America…Trump will observe that if the U.S., China, and Russia are the three countries capable of destroying the world, then it’s smart to figure out amodus vivendi among this threesome…”

US-Russia-China cooperation will eliminate for the US the threat of war with the only two powers whose nuclear capabilities could pose existential threats to the US.

[2] Simultaneously, Trump will put an end to “the prevailing view that the U.S. is, and always must be, the benign hegemon, altruistically policing the world, while allowing its allies, satellites—and even rivals—to manufacture everything and thereby generate the jobs, profits, and knowhow…a view that elevated the ambitions and pretensions of the American elite over the well-being of the larger U.S. population…Instead of sacrificing American economic interests on the altar of U.S. ‘leadership,’ [Trump] will view the strengthening of the American economy as central to American greatness.”

President Trump will rebuild the decimated US manufacturing sector and return to Americans those tens of millions of jobs that America’s globalist elites were allowed to ship overseas. Rebuilding the US economy – and jobs! – will be the centerpiece of a Donald Trump presidency.

#3 Comment By Fred Bowman On October 24, 2016 @ 6:19 am

The premise of this article is based on “if” Trump win the Presidency that he has the “temperament” to affect these changes. Imho, based on Trump’s actions as candidate, I don’t seeing him having having the temperament necessary as POTUS to bring this aboit.

#4 Comment By Chris Chuba On October 24, 2016 @ 8:28 am

The problem is that everyone wants to call themselves a Realist, even the Neocons. The Neocons proclaim that promoting Democracy, nation building, and being the world’s policeman is ‘realism’ because if you withdraw from the world the problems follow you home. Tom Rogan bellowed that we needed to destroy Syria in the name of realism. They are totally wrong but the point is that everyone wants to claim this mantle which is why I tend to avoid this term.

I think we should embrace the Putin Doctrine but that name is toxic. Basically, he eschews destroying standing govts because it is highly destabilizing. This is common sense.

Oh, when I hear ‘Bush kept us safe’ it tears my heart out when I see guys in their 20/30’s walking around with those titanium prosthetics. Do the 4,000+ men who died in Iraq and 10,000+ severely wounded count? And this does not even start to count the chaos and death in the M.E.

#5 Comment By PAXNOW On October 24, 2016 @ 10:13 am

Trump just came across as different while maintaining conservative, albeit middle-American values. Mainstream media are besides themselves at the prospect of their masters having to relinquish their special entitlements; namely, designer wars, selection of the few to govern the many (Supreme Court and the Fed), and putting foreign dictates over American interests at an incredible cost to the U.S. in human and non-human resources. The song goes on. Trump hit a real nerve. Even if he loses, the American people have had a small but important victory. We are frustrated with the ruling cabal. A sleeping giant has been awoken. This election could be the political Perl Harbor….

#6 Comment By Scott Miller On October 24, 2016 @ 10:39 am

I worked briefly with Jim when I was an intern in the Reagan WH. Jim was impressive then (Lee Atwater’s stat man) and still is. While I count myself in the GOP “realist” camp, I appreciate Jim’s giving me a scorecard of what is going on inside my Party. I just hope we can survive Trump’s candidacy to be a competitive force to check the Democrats. I also hope we can “isolate” the isolationists. We’ll see.

#7 Comment By Ed Johnson On October 24, 2016 @ 10:41 am

Pinkerton has spent thousands of words writing about someone who is not the Donald Trump anyone has ever seen.

In this, he joins every other member of the Right, who wait in hopeful anticipation to see a Champion for their cause in Donald Trump, and are willing to turn a blind eye to his ignorance, outright stupidity, lack of self-discipline, and lack of serious intent.

Pinkerton, he will only follow your lead here if he sees what’s in it for HIM, not for the Right and certainly not for the benefit of the American people.

#8 Comment By PAXNOW On October 24, 2016 @ 10:47 am

Pearl Harbor Oops!

#9 Comment By w vervin On October 24, 2016 @ 1:00 pm

Flawed premise. This opine works its way through the rabbit hole pretzel of current methodologies in D.C. The ones that don’t work. The city of NY had a similar outcome building a certain ice skating facility within the confines of a system designed to fail.

What Trump does is implode those failed systems, implements a methodology that has proven to succeed, and then does it. Under budget and before the deadline. Finding the *right* bodies to make it all work isn’t as difficult as is surmised. What that shows is how difficult that task would be for the author. Whenever I hear some pundit claim that Trump can’t possibly do all that means is the pundit couldn’t possibly do it.

The current system is full of youcan’tdoits, what have you got to lose, more of the same?

#10 Comment By David88 On October 24, 2016 @ 1:50 pm

Trump is the Duterte of the US. His is the Duterte foreign policy, abandon our allies and embrace our enemies (as long as they are not Israel’s enemies), shutdown all international trade and insult anybody who protests.

#11 Comment By EliteCommInc On October 24, 2016 @ 4:00 pm

“The premise of this article is based on “if” Trump win the Presidency that he has the “temperament” to affect these changes. Imho, based on Trump’s actions as candidate, I don’t seeing him having having the temperament necessary as POTUS to bring this aboit.”

The myth of the ‘presidential temperament,’ is laid to rest by history.

#12 Comment By EliteCommInc On October 24, 2016 @ 4:03 pm

“Trump is the Duterte of the US. His is the Duterte foreign policy, abandon our allies and embrace our enemies (as long as they are not Israel’s enemies), shutdown all international trade and insult anybody who protests.”

Te US has abandoned friends when it was not in her best interest. And we have repeatedly and routinely negotiated with our enemies when it was in our interests.

#13 Comment By don salmon On October 24, 2016 @ 5:09 pm

In a TV interview with NY1 News from 2008, Mr Trump was full of praise for the former Secretary of State.

“I think that she is a wonderful woman…” he said.

“I think her history is far from being over… I think she is going to go down at a minimum as a great senator. I think she is a great wife to a president.”

“You know, Hillary is a very smart woman, very tough woman, that’s fine,” he added. “But she is also a very nice person. I know Hillary and I know her husband very well, and they are fine people.”

He also had some warm words for Bill Clinton, whose record as president, including his alleged infidelity during his time in office, Mr Trump has slammed in recent weeks.

“Bill Clinton was a great president,” he said.

“Look at what happened during the Clinton years, we had no war, the economy was doing great, everybody was happy. A lot of people hated him because they were jealous as hell.”

#14 Comment By paul randall On October 24, 2016 @ 7:21 pm

trump stood onstage with 9 republican robots and said something stupid, but because it was both stupid and different he was guaranteed a plurality and he won the nomination. Someone forgot to remind the GOP that Hillary was not a conservative robot.

Better luck next time, by then there will be 10 robots debating.

One thing I’d like to know is why before he won the nomination didn’t any of the never trumpers do even a little opposition research? That is political malpractice. Or didn’t those geniuses think this stuff was a problem?

#15 Comment By Chris Chuba On October 24, 2016 @ 7:29 pm

For any commenter on the board. I defy any of you to identify a Republican other than Rand Paul who comes close to being something other than a full throated Neocon? Trump is the closest thing to a Realist (I’d go with nationalist).

In the Republican Primary each and every candidate lunged as far as they could to the blood curdling, American Exceptionalism, America must lead and push everyone else out of the way school of foreign policy. Ted Cruz tried to triangulate but if you read his op-eds linked on his website, he was as bad as the rest, only he hid it better. Are you surprised?

#16 Comment By miles standish On October 24, 2016 @ 8:19 pm

The mideast used to be extremely stable. Constant, interminable warfare between Iraq and Iran was wiping milllions of muslims off the face of the earth. Muslims were being converted into blood spouts. Both nations were preoccupied with their favorite pastime. Could have lasted forever. Those were the days.

Then Iran had to get smart. Conspired with American neoconic vegetables into duping the American people into filling the body bags, spending trillions, and destroying Iraq. Now owns the whole store.

How I despise neocs, Clinton, Bush, the whole gamut.

#17 Comment By Alex (the one that likes Ike) On October 25, 2016 @ 2:39 am

Fred Bowman,

The premise of this article is based on “if” Trump win the Presidency that he has the “temperament” to affect these changes. Imho, based on Trump’s actions as candidate, I don’t seeing him having having the temperament necessary as POTUS to bring this aboit.

Where have you noticed the words “Trump’s temperament” in this article? I’ve noticed only the adverd “temperamentally” referring to the isolationist bloc. Perhaps we’ve read two different essays?

— — —

Ed Johnson,

Pinkerton has spent thousands of words writing about someone who is not the Donald Trump anyone has ever seen.

In this, he joins every other member of the Right, who wait in hopeful anticipation to see a Champion for their cause in Donald Trump, and are willing to turn a blind eye to his ignorance, outright stupidity, lack of self-discipline, and lack of serious intent.

Pinkerton, he will only follow your lead here if he sees what’s in it for HIM, not for the Right and certainly not for the benefit of the American people.

Nope, Pinkerton proved his opinion about Trump with facts from the objective reality. Could you tell the same ’bout yours? Or it, as always, comes from 18 Facts About the Imaginary Trump section of the Great Book of Progressive Mantras.

#18 Comment By Alex (the one that likes Ike) On October 25, 2016 @ 2:40 am

*”adverb” in the first paragraph.

#19 Comment By SPDudley On October 25, 2016 @ 2:34 pm

My general view of foreign and defense policy post-election (and I mean any US election, not just this one) is that what candidates say during the campaign means little.

Truth is, our enemies get a vote of their own and it usually speaks louder than any campaign pitch: In other cases, candidates actual defense policies are completely inverse to their promises on the trail. Some examples:

George W Bush, in 2000, campaigned on confronting China as our main strategic adversary. Within eight months of his swearing in we were at war versus Afghanistan, and two years after we invade Iraq again.

Bill Clinton, in 1992, campaigned on getting a “peace dividend” and getting our economy “back into shape.” Then sent troops into Somalia, Haiti, Iraq (again), and Serbia while at the same time gutting defense spending.

George Bush in 1988 campaigned on maintaining NATO and holding the line against the USSR. By 1991 the USSR was gone and we were invading Iraq, and had invaded Panama two years prior.

Of course the biggest doosy was Lyndon Johnson, who in 1964 campaigned against Barry Goldwater as the “peace” candidate (see “Daisy TV ad”) and then barely two months after the election started sending in massive amounts of troops to Vietnam.

I doubt Mr. Trump will be able to fulfill anything that’s being said now, nor would Mrs. Clinton. Something big is going to come on the horizon, another Black Swan or even a flock of them, and the only real test of the election is which candidate is better prepared for the unknown, unpredictable threat we’re all about to face in a short while.

#20 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On October 25, 2016 @ 3:52 pm

Foreign policy is a huge reason to vote “yes” on Clexit (my coinage, as based on the fact that “Clinton” sounds like “Britain”). The problem, for Trump supporters, is that yes on Clexit could mean a vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein as well as for Trump. Maybe we could say a *true* vote for Clexit would be a Trump vote.

Anyway, vote YES on Clexit if you want to avoid the very grave danger of nuclear war with Russia.

#21 Comment By Cag Johnson On October 25, 2016 @ 5:08 pm

Trump is an enigma, I doubt even he has a clue what he’d do, or gives it serious thought. Frankly, it’s hard to believe he even takes being elected seriously and isn’t doing all this as the ultimate ego trip. His supporters, including Pinkerton, are simply delusional.

#22 Comment By John Thacker On October 25, 2016 @ 5:09 pm

“Nope, Pinkerton proved his opinion about Trump with facts from the objective reality.” His harsh rhetoric convinced people who don’t pay attention that he was a hawk, because low information voters respond to “sounding tough.”

The problem is that, whatever Trump said, *his supporters* in the primary saw him as the most hawkish of candidates despite expressed policy positions. Yes, some number of libertarians and paleocons voted for him, but more of his supporters were like Bobby Knight, who specifically said he supported Trump because Trump would “have the guts to drop the A-bomb like Harry Truman.” ( [2])

Pinkerton’s argument is like saying that because George W. Bush talked about immigration and ended up supported comprehensive immigration reform, that must mean that really all the people who voted for him in the primary supported it. In fact, they did not, which is why his popularity collapsed when he tried to do it. Or, to take another George W. Bush example, note that GWB talked about having a more “humble foreign policy” than Clinton or Gore in 2000. How did that work out for you? Republican politicians continually won by ignoring the populist vote, and pretending that their base liked their positions more than they did; populists and foreign policy doves can and are making the same mistake.

Now, it’s possible that Trump is actually far more dovish than people that voted for him think he is. OTOH, it’s possible that his supporters’ perceptions will drive things, and if he actually tries to be dovish it will cost him support. Indeed, right now a large part of his support is that he’s impossible to pin down on issues, so both hawks and doves like him and see in him what they want. But if and when he would be forced to actually make a decision, he wouldn’t get that luxury.

#23 Comment By Conserving What? On November 9, 2016 @ 10:43 am

If Trump is so “stupid” and “clueless”, how did he manage to identify every important issue confronting America–when no other candidate (including super-competent, super-experienced Hillary Clinton) could do so? Do you think it was because he had a brilliant pollster or campaign manager who put together talking points for him? Not bloody likely, and there is no evidence of it. Or do you think he got his ideas by reading Foreign Affairs and National Review? Again, not likely, primarily because these fountainheads of thought have not said anything like what Trump has said. Rather, what Trump has said is the product of his own thinking, not the result of a campaign-crafted strategy to assault the status quo.

#24 Comment By Myron Hudson On November 9, 2016 @ 3:45 pm

This is hopeful, but with nutcases like Bolton in line for cabinet positions, I’m pretty sure he’s gonna screw the pooch in the middle east. That is, take it the rest of the way.

#25 Comment By EliteCommInc On November 9, 2016 @ 6:10 pm

“Look at what happened during the Clinton years, we had no war, the economy was doing great, everybody was happy. A lot of people hated him because they were jealous as hell.”

No. I was not jealous. I was suspicious. “Slick Willy . . .” It turns out the economy was not so great. While less deliberate carelessness than the last economic dip, the tech boom ended as a bust. The government surplus was a mixture of fancy accounting. Everybody was happy — Rodney King, LA riots, drug explosion, rendition feeding the monster of Islamic extremism, Iraq’s no fly zones, he did nothing to reform the criminal justice system – in fact leaned heavily in using the system to boost his own credibility of toughness., etc.

if there was jealous, it was on this, he is an astute politician, and one of the smartest execs the country had had

#26 Comment By bacon On November 10, 2016 @ 8:58 pm

I’m a Democrat and voted for Hillary. But many months ago I commented on a TAC post that if the price of peace was a buffoon in the White House, so be it. A friend asked today if I am not worried about Trump’s apparent admiration of Putin, who she characterized as an aggressive, dangerous man. No, I said, I would be more worried about Hillary, a neocon hawk, and Putin. Put two aggressive, antagonistic people in the ring together and they’re not likely to sit in a corner and have tea.

We’ve got the buffoon, maybe we’ll have the peace.

#27 Comment By Noonan Mark W. On November 16, 2016 @ 6:08 pm

Dangers and Unseen variables aside. Fear was used, quite brilliantly too, to energize low information voters who think along the lines of one poster who quoted a citizen who said Trump won’t be afraid to use Nuclear Weapons like Truman did. Low information is not low educated. Although a vast majority of them have only High School Degrees. Were as College Graduates tend to be higher information voters. I think the two balance out. Or did till now.