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Trump’s Jumbled, Deal-Obsessed Foreign Policy

Leon Hadar does a good job making some sense [1] out of Trump’s recent rambling interviews [2] on foreign policy with The New York Times and Washington Post:

We should reassess the American role in NATO and the rationale for continuing to maintain it. But Trump needs to explain to us why we need to do that, not like a technocrat going through the books but as a political leader with coherent vision of the role the U.S. should play in the world. We do foreign policy not to make a profit but in order to protect the country and advance its interests.

That much of what Trump describes as foreign policy or national security doesn’t reflect such a vision, and is usually a product of his stream of consciousness babble, also explains why it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Trump’s tendency to boil every foreign policy issue down to a bad deal in which the U.S. is being ripped off provides some consistency to views that are otherwise all over the map, but as Hadar says this shows that Trump doesn’t have any fixed or specific ideas about what U.S. policies should be. All that he does know for certain is that the U.S. is getting a raw deal with whichever country is involved and he will get us a better one. This conviction is impervious to inconvenient facts, and it allows him to jump from one side of an issue to another without much difficulty. For example, he objects to U.S. involvement in Ukraine because he thinks the U.S. is the only Western power that is doing anything to support the Ukrainian government, but he gives the impression that his only real objection is that Ukraine’s neighbors aren’t more concerned than our government is. But of course Ukraine’s neighbors are much more concerned than the U.S. and have been complaining about the administration’s relative lack of support. I’m confident Trump doesn’t know that, but it also seems reasonable to conclude that if he did know it he wouldn’t be complaining about U.S. policy in Ukraine. Trump supporters and opponents want to see Trump as much more radical and dissenting in his foreign policy views than he is, but the truth is that he’s just badly informed and doesn’t have well-developed views at all.

Trump’s views on NATO are also instructive. He has indicated that he thinks the U.S. should contribute less or that European allies should contribute more, but at the same time he isn’t really calling for a substantially reduced U.S. role in NATO, nor is he saying that the U.S. should refuse to fulfill our treaty obligations to NATO allies. While Trump is quick to blame treaty allies for not pulling their weight or paying their way, he doesn’t think that means that the U.S. should renege on its commitments. Sanger asks him if he would come to the aid of the Baltic states in the event of a hypothetical Russian incursion, and he responds:

Yeah, I would. It’s a treaty, it’s there. I mean, we defend everybody. (Laughs.) We defend everybody. No matter who it is, we defend everybody. We’re defending the world.

Trump can imagine a future in which “at some point, we cannot be the policeman of the world,” but he chalks this up to what he thinks is a lack of American resources. It’s not that he thinks the U.S. shouldn’t be policing the world, but that eventually it won’t be able to do so. As much of a nationalist as Trump claims to be, he never talks about the national interest or the American interest. He latched on to the phrase “America first” when Sanger suggested it to him, but he uses it as a shorthand for not wanting to get ripped off. That brings us back to Trump’s obsession with deal-making, according to which he doesn’t question the underlying policy but only the reimbursement that the U.S. receives for it.

Some of the odder moments in his conversations with Sanger and Haberman come when he is talking about humanitarian intervention and “safe zones” in Syria. When he is asked about the former, Trump gave this answer:

Humanitarian? Yes, I would be. You know, to help I would be, depending on where and who and what. And, you know, again — generally speaking — I’d have to see the country; I’d have to see what’s going on in the region and you just cannot have a blanket. The one blanket you could say is, “protection of our country.” That’s the one blanket. After that it depends on the country, the region, how friendly they’ve been toward us. You have countries that haven’t been friendly to us that we’re protecting. So it’s how good they’ve been toward us, et cetera, et cetera. So you can’t say a blanket. You could say standards for different areas, different regions, and different countries.

As I read this, Trump is saying that his support for humanitarian intervention would depend on the circumstances and the relative friendliness of the nation involved, but he is generally in favor of it. It could be that he doesn’t grasp what humanitarian intervention entails, but it is more likely that he does and has no problem with it. This makes him a fairly lousy candidate for being a non-interventionist or realist of any stripe. Likewise, he appears to have given no thought to how the “safe zones” in Syria would work or who would be responsible for enforcing them. All that he does know is that we’re not going to pay for it:

So you have tremendous problems over there but I do believe in building a safe zone, a number of safe zones, in sections of Syria and that when this war, this horrible war, is over people can go back and rebuild if they want to and I would have the Gulf states finance it because they have the money and they should finance it. So far, they’ve put up very little money and they taken nobody in, essentially nobody in. I would be very strong with them because they have tremendous, they have unlimited amounts of money, and I would ask them to finance it. We can lead it but I don’t want to spend the money on it, because we don’t have any money. Our country doesn’t have money.

Once again, he is arguing that the U.S. can’t pay for the creation of these “safe zones,” because “our country doesn’t have money.” The objection isn’t that the U.S. shouldn’t waste money on a conflict in which it has little or nothing at stake, but that it doesn’t have the money in the first place. The Gulf states, meanwhile, have “unlimited amounts” and should be expected to pick up the tab. Besides being untrue, this dodges the real dispute over what U.S. policy should be. In the end, Trump’s answer leaves the impression that the Gulf states might pay the bill, but it will still be the U.S. doing all the heavy lifting and risking the lives of our soldiers to establish these zones. The best case for Trump here is that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about and is just endorsing a proposal he doesn’t understand.

Trump’s main slogan is “make America great again,” so his interviewers pressed him on when exactly he thought America used to be great. The answer he gave was revealing:

No if you really look at it, it was the turn of the century, that’s when we were a great, when we were really starting to go robust. But if you look back, it really was, there was a period of time when we were developing at the turn of the century which was a pretty wild time for this country and pretty wild in terms of building that machine, that machine was really based on entrepreneurship etc, etc. And then I would say, yeah, prior to, I would say during the 1940s and the late ‘40s and ‘50s we started getting, we were not pushed around, we were respected by everybody, we had just won a war, we were pretty much doing what we had to do, yeah around that period [bold mine-DL].

The two periods that Trump identifies as periods of American greatness are also when the U.S. was most vigorously engaged in overseas expansion or power projection: the early 1900s and mid-century after WWII. He identifies the “late ’40s and ’50s” as the time when “we were not pushed around,” and like so many nostalgic hawks alarmed by the reality of relative decline Trump looks back to an unrepeatable moment in U.S. history as an example of the position he wants the U.S. to have again. This is not the view of someone interested in a neutralist, America First, or restrained foreign policy, but it is the view of someone who sees the periods when the U.S. emerged as a world power or secured its position as a superpower as models to be emulated.

42 Comments (Open | Close)

42 Comments To "Trump’s Jumbled, Deal-Obsessed Foreign Policy"

#1 Comment By Junior On March 28, 2016 @ 4:28 am

Mr. Larison,

So let me get this straight, Trump wants to not entangle us in foreign wars, but you’re mad because he chooses to use a financial argument to try to convince people that being entangled in foreign wars is a bad idea? Seriously? THIS is what you’re mad about? Who the hell cares WHAT argument he uses to try to convince people that we shouldn’t be running all over the globe fighting wars for Imperialism, as long as his message is against Imperialism.

So he chooses to use a financial argument against war instead of an ideological one. So what. Still equals no war if Trump is elected President.

In fact, I think that his financial argument against war may work even better for convincing the GOP Electorate, in particular, than would your Ideological argument against war in the current situation. Right now he’s trying to convince an Ideologically brainwashed GOP Electorate that war is bad. He’s decided to use a different tact to do it by making them question a different aspect of it rather than the ideological aspect that they have been brainwashed into believing. The financial aspect is rarely discussed or propagandized by the “media”, so hopefully he has an easier time getting his message across to people. His message is against war.

Trump should be applauded for his anti-war message. Not derided. Now, I’m not saying that you have to be jumping up and down out of your seat wildly cheering for the man… but a polite clap would do. 😉

#2 Comment By Junior On March 28, 2016 @ 4:48 am

Dedicated to Mr. Trump for his courageous anti-war message:

#3 Comment By jk On March 28, 2016 @ 5:48 am

Trump brings important questions to light and that we should be grateful. Sanders is STILL quiet on disastrous US/Clintonian FP.

But we do not know how he will be in office. The same could be written about the others but most wear the ideology on their sleeves so they are somewhat predictable.

But how do we know other nations are not keeping score and return on investment with the US FP?

#4 Comment By Chris Chuba On March 28, 2016 @ 8:36 am

but he gives the impression that his only real objection is that Ukraine’s neighbors aren’t more concerned than our government is. But of course Ukraine’s neighbors are much more concerned than the U.S.
Germany is concerned in a more productive way. They facilitated Minsk and the Minsk 2 protocol. We on the other hand are more eager to re-escalate the situation by arming and putting U.S. military personnel to train the Ukranian military.

I vividly recall the look on Robert Menendez’s face when he was interviewed on FOX after the first cease fire and he was pouting. He was eager to use the Ukranians as a proxy to fight Russians.

I believe that Donald Trump’s instincts on this issue are correct. The U.S. is leading NATO and making NATO far more aggressive towards Russia but being across the atlantic, we have less of an understanding of the situation and are more glib of the consequences.

While Donald Trump doesn’t articulate this well, I believe that he senses that something is out of whack here. He sees that our customers (the Europeans) are being forced to use a product that they don’t seem to want to buy and that this is an indication that something is out of balance.

But yeah, sure, let’s go with the professionals like Cruz/Clinton who believe that Brussels vindicates their position; that parking tanks 50 miles from St. Petersburg is a way to fight ISIS.

#5 Comment By Egypt Steve On March 28, 2016 @ 8:37 am

Re: “To help I would be.”

Thank you, Master Yoda. The Farce is strong with this one.

#6 Comment By Coffee and Cigarettes On March 28, 2016 @ 10:58 am

“Trump doesn’t have any fixed or specific ideas about what U.S. policies should be.”

The Fox has many ideas. The Hedgehog has one big idea.

Here’s Trump’s one big idea: the US should act in its own interests. It should not damage its own interests for the benefit of foreign interests or powers.

That’s quite clear.

It’s actually the current Democrat/Republican consensus that seems bereft of fixed or specific ideas.

Consider our response to the Arab spring. At first Hillary and Barack are flat-footed and fail to get on board, despite all that lip service paid to democracy and the “freedom agenda”, then we got on board awkwardly and belatedly, then the Israelis started whining about the Muslim Brotherhood, so we start hedging, then Gen Sisi sees that we wouldn’t mind if there were a coup so he comes in and kicks out the Muslim Brotherhood guy (so much for the “freedom agenda”) and we’re back to Mubarak II.

What was the “fixed and specific idea” in all that? It’s just a lot of botched, incoherent tactics. At best the “fixed and specific” idea is “We’re used to dealing with dictators”, or maybe “don’t do anything to make Israel nervous, it might hurt Hillary’s chances in 2016”?

And what are the “fixed and specific” ideas that explain Iraq? Staying in Afghanistan? Libya? Whatever happened to “the pivot to Asia”? “The reset with Russia”? How’s that “Global War on Terror” working out for us? Saudi Arabia and Israel and countless other corrupt foreign clients love it. Have we won it yet, and if not, how many more decades and trillions of dollars will it cost us?

All of these, the sum total of the millenial grand strategy of the last three presidents and both parties – turned out to be a lot of portentous, destructive, staggeringly expensive, utterly incoherent b******t.

Trump’s “fixed and specific” idea is that from now on we look after America and Americans. Not foreigners. His statements on everything from immigration to free trade to foreign policy are fixed, specific, and coherent in that key respect. Unlike any other candidate.

And that’s a very, very good start.

#7 Comment By Scott F. On March 28, 2016 @ 11:40 am

Junior –

Donald Trump should be applauded for his anti-war message, but that would require that he have one. However, you’ve shown that cherry-picked data points, acrobatic reasoning and a willful misreading of Mr. Larison are required to convince yourself that Trump is the conservative non-interventionist you so clearly wish for.

Mr. Trump says we will win against ISIS by seizing their oil. How does the US seize foreign oil fields that span thousands and thousands of miles without ground troops? Even if Trump gets Gulf states to pay for safe zones he feels are needed in Iraq and Syria, Mr. Larison has made clear that, once again, Trump would need US ground troops to create those safe zones. Trump just this morning bashed the Iran Nuclear Deal again, so it’s hard to see how a President Trump would de-escalate tensions with Iran using diplomacy rather than bellicosity.

The Donald’s compulsiveness, coupled with the promises he’s made to his followers that America WILL be great again, is much more likely to mean continuing military adventurism from the US, just with fewer constraints on our military and more grousing about our allies who, despite Trump’s hollow demands to the contrary, will continue to underpay for our world policing.

#8 Comment By Uncle Billy On March 28, 2016 @ 12:08 pm

Trump has an occasional good idea, such as a reduced US role in NATO, but does not appear to have an overarching foreign policy vision. World War II has been over for 71 years and the Soviet Union has been gone for over 25 years, so changes need to be made. We cannot be world policeman. We need to reduce our commitments everywhere. and make our so called “Allies” do more. Then we need to get specific.

Trump could flesh out our vision of a smaller us involvement everywhere with specifics such as:

1. Reduced US commitment to NATO. Germans, French and other NATO members increase their armed forces by 10%.
2. Reduced US troops in Japan. Japan builds bluewater navy.
3. reduced footprint in Korea. ROK agrees to increase ROK Army by 15%.

Trump is very big on “the deal” but does not seem to grasp that the deal is a means to an end. Not an end in and of itself.

#9 Comment By Justin Raimondo On March 28, 2016 @ 12:46 pm

Trump wants out of NATO, out of Korea, out of Japan, doesn’t want to intervene in Ukraine, asks why are we pursuing regime change in Syria, opposed Libya intervention, opposed Iraq war, and has now adopted the slogan “America First.” Yet this isn’t good enough for Senor Larison, who objects that he advocates these policies for the wrong reasons.

Larison is here confusing politics with theology. But I’m wondering — it takes an awful lot of nitpicking to haggle over these details. Isn’t the real reason for this Trump-bashing sheer conformism? After all, the Washington “intelligentsia” has issued its fatwa against Trump — and anyone who defies it is toast.

Very disappointing to see this nonsense in TAC.

#10 Comment By Sophie On March 28, 2016 @ 12:58 pm

It’s amusing to watch Trump supporters rationalize away why he says things that don’t align with their view of him.

Trump did actually support the Libya intervention, which gave him a grade D in TAC’s Foreign Folicy Report Card.

#11 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 28, 2016 @ 12:59 pm

“1. Reduced US commitment to NATO. Germans, French and other NATO members increase their armed forces by 10%.
2. Reduced US troops in Japan. Japan builds bluewater navy.
3. reduced footprint in Korea. ROK agrees to increase ROK Army by 15%.”

Well,

ok. But you don’t supply a very specific rationale that these decreases and adjustments will not threaten our security needs or that even these decreases wouldn’t leave a bloated defense.

I listened to a defense budget hearing this morning. And on numerous occasions generals and admirals were caught up short on budget proposals that ended programs and added systems that did not include any analysis as to the needs assessments. I am supposed to shim and shammer over Mr. Trumps not adopting some pressed strategic organizational shifts lacking the same.

As much as I appreciate the authors articles, there are some serious issues I have with the internal logic of the foreign affairs assessment of Mr. Trump. And I stand by those. Not the least of which is the expectation that the next executives foreign policy be “linearly, noninterventionist, even in the cases of humanitarian interventions.

#12 Comment By Daniel Larison On March 28, 2016 @ 1:03 pm

Trump holds almost none of the positions attributed to him here. Go through the NYT and WaPo transcripts and find where he says the U.S. should leave NATO. It isn’t there. He never says this. These are positions that his supporters invent for him to make sense of his confused ramblings. He says he wants allies to pay more for U.S. protection, but that’s it. He supported the Libyan war when it started, and was on record at the time urging Obama to intervene. He has since changed his tune on that because he is above all an opportunist who will say whatever he thinks will help him at the moment. Beyond that, the man is staggeringly ignorant of basic facts on the relevant issues. That makes him a laughingstock and ought to embarrass the people that put their trust in him. Instead of acknowledging his many flaws, some of his supporters insist on making things up to cover for him.

It is not surprising that Raimondo has once again invested a bad candidate with virtues he doesn’t possess and credited him with views he doesn’t hold. I have no interest in doing that, and I don’t know what purpose would be served by misleading my readers with shameless spin.

#13 Comment By balconesfault On March 28, 2016 @ 1:44 pm

The Trump candidacy seems so much like a Rorschach test … I think the main thing to conclude is that a Trump vote is simply a roll of the dice on a massive scale.

It is clear that Trump himself has not yet thought through the details of most of the problems presented to a President, and from his rhetoric (and really, his career) there’s little evidence that he has the capacity or interest to really think through these issues at the level the average TAC reader lives and breathes.

I’ve long compared the Bush Presidency with an impulsive and ill-informed driver (given the keys in 2001 and 2002 by an enabling group of Congressional cowards and ideologues) taking a car that was more or less staying between the lines and veering it down a dirt road and running it into a huge mudfield while trying to find a promised shortcut to security and prosperity.

Obama has spent 8 years trying to extricate the car from the mud and get it back up on the highway, and while he’s made his share of bad decisions, given that the assistance the opposition party has given him has been to throw mudballs at him while mocking him for not being back up to 60 mph again he’s done a credible though imperfect job.

To me a Hillary Presidency (or a Kasich Presidency) would promise something like what Obama has been doing, albeit with fundamental differences in methodology of how to finish the job. Bernie Sanders is looking for another shortcut. Ted Cruz wants to completely take the car apart, if not just blow it up, with the promise that somehow all the pieces will miraculously be able to be reassembled in a form far superior to the car that was cruising along fairly decently before the Bush detour.

Trump promises to, by his force of intellect and his dealmaking ability and his amazing ability to always pick the right expert, just supercharge the car in ways that nobody else ever saw the car could be supercharged, so it could fly out of the mud and hit the highway again and move down the road at the fastest speeds anyone ever saw, with complete safety guaranteed for all the occupants, and once everyone sees how amazing his solution was they’ll all love him because he’s such a winner.

His foreign policy is a perfect manifestation of that. Other governments will renegotiate deals with the US to our advantage, and countries around the world will both pick up a greater burden of defense costs AND pay the US directly for the global security burden we bear, all the while maintaining a strategy whose primary interest is to strengthen and protect Fortress America.

The thing to worry about, I guess … is how’s it going to work for us if Mr. Trump ends up relying on one of his favorite business strategies – threatening to if not outright declaring bankruptcy – in order to get his way?

#14 Comment By Junior On March 28, 2016 @ 2:36 pm

@ Scott F.

“Donald Trump should be applauded for his anti-war message, but that would require that he have one. However, you’ve shown that cherry-picked data points, acrobatic reasoning and a willful misreading of Mr. Larison are required to convince yourself that Trump is the conservative non-interventionist you so clearly wish for.”

The man states OVER and OVER and OVER again in every speech and in all his interviews that he does not want America to be the policemen of the world, and yet you say that I’M the one that is cherry picking, doing acrobatic reasoning, and willfully misreading what someone has to say? How many times and how many different ways does Trump have to say it before you will admit that he has a non-interventionist message that you so clearly wish for him not to have?

“Mr. Trump says we will win against ISIS by seizing their oil. How does the US seize foreign oil fields that span thousands and thousands of miles without ground troops?”

No. He says that we SHOULD HAVE seized it while we were there in Iraq but NOW we have no choice but to destroy their oil. Here is an excerpt from an article on Trump and ISIS oil:
“Pressed about his call to “take the oil” controlled by the Islamic State in the Middle East, Trump acknowledged that this would require deploying ground troops, something he does not favour. “We should’ve taken it, and we would’ve had it,” he said, referring to the years in which the United States occupied Iraq. “Now we have to destroy the oil.”
[3]

Destroying their oil and disabling their ability to ship it into Turkey to be sold on the black market requires little to no US ground troops as it can be done from the air and by stopping the corrupt banking system from washing their dirty money. These are not little transactions which can be done with a suitcase full of cash. These are banking transactions for millions of dollars which could be stopped if we MADE the banks stop and held them accountable for their actions. The man is simply saying if you truly want to stop ISIS then stop their cash flow.

Stop the money, no more ISIS. The establishment could BLATANTLY be doing this already but choose not to do so. Putin showed how this strategy would work when he struck at their funding by bombing their convoys sending oil into Turkey. This was why that slimeball Erdogan shot down the Russian Jet in retaliation risking WW3 to keep his illegal oil and arms money flowing through the corrupted banking systems to him. But the establishment doesn’t want ISIS stopped. They want Assad toppled, or a better description of the situation is that Israel wants Assad toppled because of his support for Hamas and Hezbollah and quite obviously our foreign policy has become to do whatever is in the best of Israel no matter the cost in dollars and dead American Soldiers.

“Even if Trump gets Gulf states to pay for safe zones he feels are needed in Iraq and Syria, Mr. Larison has made clear that, once again, Trump would need US ground troops to create those safe zones.”

No. Mr. Larison has NOT made that clear. What he stated was “In the end, Trump’s answer leaves the impression that the Gulf states might pay the bill, but it will still be the U.S. doing all the heavy lifting and risking the lives of our soldiers to establish these zones.” Leaves the impression. From what I read of Trumps comment he is talking about taking the lead in forcing the Gulf States to do it. I see absolutely NO mention of using US troops to do it if the Gulf States don’t. He HAS however stated, “We’ve got to get rid of ISIS quickly, quickly. Not for a long time. Let me tell you what I really want to do. I want to get other people to put troops on the ground and we’ll back them up 100 percent,” So your guilt by omittance argument doesn’t have a leg to stand on because he SPECIFICALLY addresses his plan to have other people put troops on the ground. The statement that Trump is “leaving the impression” that American troops will do it if the Gulf States don’t is nothing more than a case of people doing acrobatic reasoning and cherry picking to try to vilify Trump and trying to fit him into the “media’s” narrative of him that they attempt to brainwash us with 24/7.

“Trump just this morning bashed the Iran Nuclear Deal again, so it’s hard to see how a President Trump would de-escalate tensions with Iran using diplomacy rather than bellicosity.”

Trump has stated OVER and OVER and OVER again that he thinks we should have gotten a much better deal and we got absolutely nothing out of it but he would NOT rip up the deal. A President Trump would de-escalate tensions with Iran because we would not be over there trying to “spread our democracy”. We don’t have tension with them because they are jealous of us or whatever nonsense the NeoCons are spewing about them now because of Iran’s support for Assad, Hezbollah, and Hamas. We have tension with them because we are overthrowing regimes left and right and they know that if the establishment has their way, Iran is next. Trump doesn’t want us entangled in the Middle East. How could that NOT de-escalate tension with Iran.

I am a Trump supporter but I am the first one to admit that the man says SOME incredibly stupid things like all this idiocy about banning Muslims and Islam hating us when we have millions of Muslim Americans living peacefully here. But almost everything that Trump says about foreign policy interventionism and how we shouldn’t do it, is spot on.

#15 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 28, 2016 @ 2:40 pm

” . . . threatening to if not outright declaring bankruptcy – in order to get his way?”

Check the following:

Debt

Deficit spending

State of foreign and domestic trade

expense if illegal immigrants

Basel I and II financing protocols

But as is financing is the domain of Congress . . . it seems a misfire bit of speculation.

#16 Comment By collin On March 28, 2016 @ 2:52 pm

To give the devil his due here, deal making is exactly what Real Estate business is. Business leaders are making contradictory goals (Less resources but better customer service in the same speech.) Also, One deal your biggest competitor becomes your partner on the next deal.

However, it does not make for a good Foreign Policy.

#17 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 28, 2016 @ 2:52 pm

“The Trump candidacy seems so much like a Rorschach test … I think the main thing to conclude is that a Trump vote is simply a roll of the dice on a massive scale.”

There are checks and balances —

We are not electing a Sovereign.
__________________________
“Beyond that, the man is staggeringly ignorant of basic facts on the relevant issues. That makes him a laughingstock and ought to embarrass the people that put their trust in him. Instead of acknowledging his many flaws, some of his supporters insist on making things up to cover for him.”

I read the editorial board transcript. And while Mr. trumps responses were disconcerting. It was possible to get through it without being totally dismayed. If you are a policy wonk then you expect a certain knowledge base and the accompanying language.

I am not prepared to disqualify him because he hasn’t the volumes of jargon laced policy position papers from think tanks, nor allowed himself the luxury of hiring the same who might agree or at least be helpful in helping grasp both the lingusitic expectations of policy foreign and domestic.

My housemate asked what was wrong as I read through the interview, he went in with blinders and got a bit burnt. But it’s not the end of the world. And it is not too late for him to learn.

#18 Comment By Victory over Eurasia On March 28, 2016 @ 3:05 pm

@Dr. Larison – on point (as usual), as are most of the commentors. For the true believers, pls also see the recent Vox article, here – a slightly more direct critique…..

[4]

#19 Comment By rayray On March 28, 2016 @ 3:27 pm

“The Trump candidacy seems so much like a Rorschach test … I think the main thing to conclude is that a Trump vote is simply a roll of the dice on a massive scale.”

Couldn’t have put it better. Great comment.

It is a bit odd to see the sharp mind of Larison taking on the word salad of Trump, taking it at face value, trying to make sense of it.

#20 Comment By Patrick D On March 28, 2016 @ 3:35 pm

balconesfault,

Obama has spent 8 years trying to extricate the car from the mud and get it back up on the highway, and while he’s made his share of bad decisions, given that the assistance the opposition party has given him has been to throw mudballs at him while mocking him for not being back up to 60 mph again he’s done a credible though imperfect job.

To me a Hillary Presidency (or a Kasich Presidency) would promise something like what Obama has been doing, albeit with fundamental differences in methodology of how to finish the job.

I don’t know why you would think that. IMO, Obama’s bad decisions have the fingerprints of Sec of State Hillary and those she elevated within in State all over them while his positive accomplishments seem to have been achieved in spite of that faction.

#21 Comment By Patrick D On March 28, 2016 @ 3:44 pm

To put it another way, I expect a Hillary Clinton Presidency will deliver a foreign policy comparable to what I would have expected from a John McCain Presidency.

#22 Comment By Scott F. On March 28, 2016 @ 4:17 pm

Junior –

I’ve read plenty of what Trump has stated OVER and OVER again and I’m going to align with the learned Mr. Larison and other commenters here who have determined Mr. Trump is predominantly incoherent. (As a case in point, in the AFR article you cite Trump says we have to destroy the oil, but less than a week ago he said in his interview with the Washington Post editorial board that we should circle the oil and defend it. Let’s check back next week and find out what he wants to do with the oil then.)

But you’re convinced, so believe what you want to believe. It’s your vote.

#23 Comment By Oddsmakers On March 28, 2016 @ 4:27 pm

@DL – “Jumbled and deal-obsessed”

… will be a refreshing break from “monomaniacal and staggeringly costly and destructive”.

@balconesfault – “The Trump candidacy seems so much like a Rorschach test […] A Trump vote is simply a roll of the dice on a massive scale. “

… and a Clinton vote is a drive off a cliff. You know exactly what will happen.

#24 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 28, 2016 @ 6:19 pm

“(As a case in point, in the AFR article you cite Trump says we have to destroy the oil, but less than a week ago he said in his interview with the Washington Post editorial board that we should circle the oil and defend it. Let’s check back next week and find out what he wants to do with the oil then.)”

Let me see if I get your point. Mr. Trump posits two possible responses to ISIS and because he doesn’t give them both at all times in every interview — in your mind it’s incoherent as opposed to examining options.

Neither one of those advances are new. He has even made the noted them as possible options.

It is possible to entertain two different responses to a given scenario without concluding that doing so is incoherent.

#25 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 28, 2016 @ 6:31 pm

We are so used to hearing pat answers that when someone comes along who isn’t part of the pat answer in the know “knee-jerk” jet set we conclude they must be incompetent, incoherent and otherwise unfit instead of actively sifting through potential scenarios, actions and responses. We are comfortable with being told something definitive, regardless of whether it makes any sense or not.

That is afterall why Sec Clinton is a candidate. She is a known quantity. We are even willing to ignore her multiple incoherent policies advances. We’ll excuse any error, regardless of how egregious, even resulting in death — because of two cores:

1. she’s woman and the diversity games presses the matter

2. she is a familiar face. Like the family remember we know will take us for a ride, but they are more known than the stranger whom might, but about whom would require a new dynamic.

We’ll turn that unknown into Armageddon to suit the known we know, despite the pickpocketing we’ll get. Save, the country is not getting pickpocketed, it’s slammed off it’s moorings by the leaders we know.

#26 Comment By Irony Abounds On March 28, 2016 @ 8:02 pm

EliteCommInc.: It isn’t a matter of Trump not giving “pat” answers to questions. It is that he clearly does not have a clue what to do and he is simply answering questions in much the same knee jerk way that commenters on blogs and message boards give to the questions at hand (not casting aspersions on the commenters here, who by and large are better informed than most). Immigration’s a problem? Build a wall – the best most beautiful wall possible, and make Mexico pay for it! Worried about trade agreements? Just force all the other parties to the agreements to accept terms much better for the United States and of course they will do it. If not, we will stop doing business with them. Worried about the state of the US military? No problem, he’ll make it so big and so powerful no one will mess with US. Worried about the US having to pay for US military presence in other countries? Make them pay for everything or we’ll leave, as though there is no strategic reason for the US to be there. On and on and on he gives answers that work great in the simplest of worlds but have no rational basis in the world we live in. Just because the leaders we have are not going a great job is no reason to elect an utter buffoon and con artist who almost certainly will do a horrible job.

#27 Comment By CharleyCarp On March 28, 2016 @ 9:13 pm

I think Clinton will face a lot of congressional opposition, from both parties, to anything particularly aggresive. Yes, I know, Congress hasn’t done as well as it might in restraining the current President, but I think plenty of folks on both sides of the aisle are going to be a lot less passive.

For example, I do not think Obama could pull off a Libya today.

Will Clinton continue policies like our backing the Saudi war on Yemen? Probably. I’ve certainly not seen anything from Trump that suggests he’d do that policy differently, either. We’re getting a good deal!

#28 Comment By Junior On March 28, 2016 @ 9:19 pm

@John F.

“I’ve read plenty of what Trump has stated OVER and OVER again and I’m going to align with the learned Mr. Larison and other commenters here who have determined Mr. Trump is predominantly incoherent.”

That’s some Groupthink if I’ve ever heard it. Please don’t be a lemming if you really want to change the Imperialist status quo, John F.

Trump’s not incoherent. Granted, he talks as if he’s having a conversation, goes off track sometimes, and sometimes cuts himself off in mid-sentence but that does NOT mean that he is incoherent. I understand him PERFECTLY well. Now, that MAY be because, just like him, I’m from New York as well,(Junior, Brooklyn representin’! 🙂 ), but I don’t think that’s the reason. I’m pickin’ up what Trump’s puttin’ down and I’m not the only one. But it’s definitely not groupthink because, trust me, it is NOT easy being a Trump supporter so it’s not conforming. We are constantly attacked in the media and smeared in every way possible, same as Trump.

Trump is a non-linear thinker. So he may have a different thought process that he uses to process information than you do to come to a conclusion. But I hope that you don’t disqualify him just because he goes through a different thought process than you if you ultimately agree with his conclusions. He’s taking a different path but if you both share the same end point then what difference does it make which thought process path that you both took to get there.

Trump is a non-linear non-interventionist. It may hurt for some to admit it, but it’s the truth. I hope that you reconsider voting for Trump, John F. I think that you’ll find that you agree with him on a lot more issues than you think you do, as long as you can keep an open mind and not be influenced by the hurricane of smearing from the media. He’s a lot more nuanced than you think he is.

“As a case in point, in the AFR article you cite Trump says we have to destroy the oil, but less than a week ago he said in his interview with the Washington Post editorial board that we should circle the oil and defend it.”

Again, if you read the paragraph and question right before his “circle the oil line” in that article, you will see that he is saying that we SHOULD HAVE circled the oil to defend it WHEN WE WERE STILL IN IRAQ. NOT that we should circle the oil to defend it now. NOW he wants their oil destroyed.

That little nuance is the difference between night and day. Those nuances are what the media tries so desperately to hide about Trump with their sound bytes and misrepresentations of quotes. Don’t believe the hype.

#29 Comment By jamie On March 28, 2016 @ 9:32 pm

Let me see if I get your point. Mr. Trump posits two possible responses to ISIS and because he doesn’t give them both at all times in every interview — in your mind it’s incoherent as opposed to examining options.

It’s not so much that they’re inconsistent and incompatible — though that is a problem — it’s that both blowing-up other people’s oil wells, and simply commandeering them, are both ridiculously bellicose compared to anything Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have ever proposed, let alone what George W. Bush did. They also pretty much guarantee that we’ll be entangled in middle eastern wars for decades to come.

The idea that Trump is necessarily pacific is ridiculously naive. He has promised repeatedly to harry our friends and give our foes basically everything they could possibly want from an American foreign policy, and all of his beliefs and values seem to grow out of the false belief that America is a “humiliated” nation that must grasp for its place in the sun. Such men are not anti-war.

Demanding countries shoulder more burden for their own defense may work for France, or India, or perhaps Saudi Arabia, but many countries, like Taiwan and Iraq, simply cannot, and we’ll have to be prepared for the consequences of nations like these falling into the orbit of powers like China and Iran. I’m really not sure this man is prepared to roll back America’s international influence, his entire FP program seems bent on extending US influence and dominance, just with pretense that we can have all of this without it costing us a dime, and we can some how pawn off all of our armed conflicts on allies.

#30 Comment By Davebo On March 28, 2016 @ 10:09 pm

“2. she is a familiar face. Like the family remember we know will take us for a ride, but they are more known than the stranger whom might, but about whom would require a new dynamic.”

Friends don’t let friends post drunk.

#31 Comment By Jonathan On March 29, 2016 @ 12:50 am

The time frame that Trump suggests was the golden age for America also corresponds to the highest income tax rate in the USA. This I find rather odd considering he is running as a conservative candidate.

The world wide military subsidization arguments are a bit odd. If the troops were not abroad they would be at home costing 100% and by shipping them overseas their cost is actually subsidized (partially) by other countries. The USA is not subsidizing the world’s military, they are renting out their massive military that would otherwise be under utilized. If all the troops were brought home it wouldn’t get cheaper for the USA unless they started laying off soldiers which they would never do.

He seems to be poorly educated on certain issues and this was demonstrated recently in his talks with Washington post. Talking about getting better deals with Saudi Arabia while seemingly ignorant of the fact that historically Saudi Arabia has been able to turn the screws on the USA with oil prices.

#32 Comment By liberal On March 29, 2016 @ 11:25 am

Junior wrote,

Trump is a non-linear thinker.

Yes, in the same way that anyone who has no idea what they’re talking about and hence is limited to bloviation and word salad is a non-linear thinker.

#33 Comment By liberal On March 29, 2016 @ 11:34 am

Irony Abounds wrote,

Immigration’s a problem? Build a wall – the best most beautiful wall possible, and make Mexico pay for it!

I agree that that’s a ridiculous thing for Trump to say, but the fact of the matter is that the anti-immigration is usually terribly thought out.

There’s a very simple solution to illegal immigration: the Federal government creates a relatively simple and hard (if not impossible) to falsify means of verifying citizenship/residency status. Then employers are required to verify that status. Any employer found hiring illegal immigrants then suffers draconian penalties, including jail time for those in charge and nasty monetary sanctions.

This would be far more effective than any wall. Walls can be gotten around, whereas hitting employers hits those who have the most to lose.

The reason it will never happen is that the business class likes immigration, both illegal and legal. Fostering xenophobic resentment furthers their cause because it puts burdens on foreign employees that makes it even easier to exploit them.

#34 Comment By ElIteCommInc. On March 29, 2016 @ 1:18 pm

“It’s not so much that they’re inconsistent and incompatible — though that is a problem — it’s that both blowing-up other people’s oil wells, and simply commandeering them, are both ridiculously bellicose compared to anything Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have ever proposed”

Well, the position here was that there were somehow incoherent. But let’s take your advance here. Perhaps, you are unaware that destroying the enemies resources is not incoherent, but a common practice as to the use of force. The idea is neither unique nor out of the main of strategic thinking. It may be bellicose to the sensitive ears of the those who are upset their apple cart has been doused with reality, but destroying the enemies resources is common practice. The idea of “clean” sanitized warfare does not exist in reality.

Reality, if out intend to make war, then on had better make war so as to end it. That is the purpose of war to advance a policy, that policy does not get advanced until said objectives are met via force or the conditions change via the enemy making another choice as opposed to war. Other than that one fights until the fight is won or don’t bother fighting. The history of warfare is replete with this tactic and it is by far the most humane.

Now the wiser choices would have ben for Pres Bush, and Sec. Clinton never advanced the war in Iraq in the first place — needless, resolving and now apparently endless, as the Iraqis have never stopped fighting since our invasion — we lost every objective but one and that success has doubled or tipled down the failure of every other objective. Iraq now exists in a state of perpetual warfare.

I will take bellicose words over the unnecessary bellicosity that now rains mortars, rockets, bullets and air bombardments 24/7 with no end in sight. The needless destruction of men, women and children all of who dead, wounded or shell shocked by the horrors of the bellicosity of war brought by the likes of Sec. Clinton and now the current exec. because he was beholden to the money men, his legacy rests along side the call for and execution of regime change by force — Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Egypt and next in the line of fire Saudi Arabia. All of which has spread the warfare across the region of the Middle East.

Bellicose, you have got to be kidding. When Pres. Lincoln understood the mission of Gen Sherman’s march south to the sea — slash and burn the enemies will and ability to fight he gave his assent. The introduction to modern warfare concept of total war may bruise one’s post modern deconstructive shtick, but the ide idea of destroying or capturing resources of one’ enemies is hardly new or unique to the US. It’s purpose is to end conflict.

In light of that Mr. Trump’s advance is the most sane response on the table. You only have endless warfare if you intend it to be.

Your response is like that Sec Clinton to the calls by her embassy ambassador and staff in Libya for more security, because the violence was escalating toward the embassy itself. Her response was to request that they provide information and strategy of how present events to the public so that things looked in control as opposed to the reality of the threat they clearly posed. She is now running for office with the blessings of millions. And I am supposed to be rebuffed by people wholly unaware of a common strategic move to reduce and end conflict.

Good grief.

“The idea that Trump is necessarily pacific is ridiculously naive.”

One can always depend on one’s betters to make claims that were not made and then make arguments to address them. I never said anything about Mr. Trump being “pacific”. Not even close. And while I embrace the charge of charge of naiveté’ to what extent it has veracity on these issues as they pertain to me Trump is unclear. But I always appreciate being called naïve’. Though I understand it is intended to replace “stupidity.”

“He has promised repeatedly to harry our friends and give our foes basically everything they could possibly want from an American foreign policy, and all of his beliefs and values seem to grow out of the false belief that America is a “humiliated” nation that must grasp for its place in the sun. Such men are not anti-war.”

I am not sure you comprehend what the word humiliated means. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, are failures. The country knows that and no doubt feels it. Whether you are humiliated and feel a need to withdraw or engage more is just a choice. But if you make a claim that you will do this or that, make a big show, invade other countries and fail to meet your objectives — for all the world to see and don’t experience some sense of humiliation — your code of ethics is bent off kilt. Humiliation serves a very important purpose in life. It is meant to instill caution prudence. It is rational fear. On thinks of shame, embarrassment, etc. Its not a bad word nor is it something to dismiss. Only liberals fail to comprehend the value embarrassment plays in life. Of course the US is embarrassed and we should be. For several reasons, two should suffice:

1. We attacked nations without cause
2. And we failed to achieve the stated objectives

We should have known better than to violate what is commonly understood amongst people — don’t attack the innocent

and under the democratic leadership, not having learned the lessons of the first, apparently humiliation prompted a double down of previous failure. Sec Clinton — “no fly zones” to protect the various rebels attempting to Topple Pres. Assad and each other — clearly meant to provoke the Russians. Want to know what is humiliating, the former Soviet Union solving messes created by the US. Contrary to the arguments made about them, they have behaved prudently so as to prevent conflict, including the move as to Crimea meant to block the violence that was encouraged by the US and the EU. Reality can be sobering: embarrassing, humiliating.

I am humiliated that in the modern era, the US the leader in democratic institutions and practice seems to have dumped caution, prudence, and potential humiliation from acting accordingly.

“Demanding countries shoulder more burden for their own defense may work for France, or India, or perhaps Saudi Arabia, but many countries, like Taiwan and Iraq, simply cannot, and we’ll have to be prepared for the consequences of nations like these falling into the orbit of powers like China and Iran.”

I am unclear what it is the US is to gain from the SQ you describe when it has led to the very same consequences you seem to acknowledge and bemoan. You do realize that regime change is for the purpose of bringing nations into a democratic sphere and directly under the protection of the US until they get on their feet — whenever that is — perpetually defending nations not need of our help by imaginary invasions and conspiratorial imperial manifestations as you describe without a single data set of support is why I hold the establishment in chagrin.

Taiwan: I am unclear where you got the impression that the US intends to exit Taiwan. But for the moment, let’s play that out.

Taiwan is and has been Chinese territory. Which is exactly why the British, relinquished it back. There are no indications that China intends to invade, the island and should they, – it’s their island. Thus far, the Chinese seem to be acting according to the principles of avoiding a humiliating scenario such as they experience during Tiananmen, a wise choice. Not that they have any doubt of success, but the consequences would be contrary to purpose. I doubt that the Chinese would do anything to damage the current jewel of economic engine that is Taiwan, but should they — that is their Island. But should the opposite be the case, then it is not unreasonable to expect Taiwan to foot the bill for their protection.

Iraq: you have got to be kidding me. Iran moved on Iraq right under the nose of the US occupation. And while the people of Iraq are a proud people, with a clear history all their own — they are more than willing to “pal” up to the Iranians as the Shia continue to engage in killing their fellow Sunnis. In the colloquial, Iraq is referred to Northern Iran. So I take it that your position is reinvade Iraq so as to untangle the Iranian influence currently in the country. Never mind that the US is currently in some manner of cooperation with Iran in taking on ISIS in Iraq and portions of Syria. So your complaint is that Iran is going to extend it’s influence. Forgetting that the US has made that all the more likely, by foolishly invading Iraq, removing the single best buffer against such influence. Anyone who supported the invasion of Iraq has themselves to blame. The current admin. has just negotiated a deal with Iran that includes EU and Russian support. Whether one shreds the dal for the US or not, the other parties are eventually going to move forward without us. There’s too much money at stake and all of the other parties are pressed to expand some manner of economic growth. Never mind that the US foreign policy hasn’t been all that effective for the last 16 years.

That I would take any of your comments seriously is embarrassing to me.

” . . . his entire FP program seems bent on extending US influence and dominance, just with pretense that we can have all of this without it costing us a dime, and we can some how pawn off all of our armed conflicts on allies.”

1. I am unclear where you have heard Mr. Trump that he intends to pawn off all of our armed conflicts. It’s hard to rebut imagine and made up arguments. What he is doing is a prudent reassessment of US interests. Why are we fighting battles that rightly are not in our province concern and have little benefit to the US. Frankly, he does not go far enough. Even ISIS is not a threat. The only real reason we should be addressing it is that we uncorked them and have some moral obligation to resolve the matter. Fanciful thinking suggests they are a threat to the or our allies. Every terrorist attack has been at the hands of legal immigrants or citizens in the countries where they have occurred, save for the 9/11 attacks. Those individuals were not here legally and our immigration service utterly dropped the ball. Being inspired by ISIS is hardly a call to take them on as some threat to the US.

What Mr. Trump has made clear is that our defense should of other states should not be charity. The case for war in Iraq was to include reduced costs via some manner of oil subsides for the US, it has never happened. And it is unlikely to ever happen now.

2. Well,

you seem to want it both ways. You claim that Mr. Trump is expanding US influence at the same time he parlaying off the same to others. This smacks of some anti- Mr. Trump psychology as opposed to a serious examination of Mr. Trump’s positions. In either case, what he contends is that the US could do better whether we are humiliated or not. Whether we are embarrassed about our lackluster foreign policy or not. In fact, being humiliated, humbled, embarrassed is inconsequential. A better negotiated plan that benefits the US if keeping with the policy o every nation and the purpose of every agreement — quid pro quo.

The US is arguably the most successful capitalist system in the world and frankly, we should have been humiliated by what clashed in 2007 and 2008 as the result of our financial sector’s careless and reckless behavior. Those events have shifted the economic balance in ways that have misplaced millions of jobs and the dollars that sustain US citizens. NAFTA big promise was that it decrease immigration by boosting the fortunes of Mexico. It has boosted the fortunes of Mexico wile increasing the number of people crossing the border illegally putting downward pressure on available work both up and down the economic ladder. I would love to open the books of electric boat to see how many illegal immigrants they hire for skilled labor in construction. I have no problem with wealth attainment, but to do so at the expense of those who are going to be sending their sons off to Taiwan, Korea, Japan, etc. to fight for monies that will never benefit them or their children is traitorous and counter to the purposes of the US and its constitution under which our government is governed, not exclusive business interests.

And who brought us to this place — well, the leadership of the last thirty years or so. So before I get all afear’d of a Mr. Trump by sketchy analysis of foreign policy that is internally contradictory, false and lacks understanding of basic military strategy . . . I will consider the unknown against the failures I know.

#35 Comment By robz On March 29, 2016 @ 1:47 pm

Kasich is the only candidate left on the Republican side who is the least bit honest.

#36 Comment By fast_Jimmy On March 29, 2016 @ 5:01 pm

Succinct expression in these comments is something I think we could all benefit from. Honestly, we’ve seen comments nearly double the substantial original article.

I’ll simply respond to the following items, from Junior.

Trump’s not incoherent. Granted, he talks as if he’s having a conversation, goes off track sometimes, and sometimes cuts himself off in mid-sentence but that does NOT mean that he is incoherent.

Sorry, but this kind of speech fits the dictionary definition of the word incoherent almost perfectly.

It takes an athletic will and robust imagination to see what you’re seeing in the Trump foreign policy as you fill in the blanks in his reasoning. The supposedly minimalist and non-interventionist Trump policy that you have built for him requires, by your own admission, virtually impossible, quagmire inducing items such as

“We’ve got to get rid of ISIS quickly…”

I want to get other people to put troops on the ground and we’ll back them up 100 percent,”

It looks like we’ll have a very interventionist ME policy, tenuous relations with Iran that may or may not lose us the treaty, ground troops to secure oil OR massive airstrikes to permanently destroy infrastructure temporarily held by ISIS along with a heavy escalation of our current air conflict with ISIS (to ‘bomb the s*** out of them and get it over with ‘quickly’, no doubt) and the attendant consequences. He values “unpredictability” in our foreign policy which, at a strategic level, is once again the very definition of incoherent.

I’ve heard Trump describe time and time again how much of a hair trigger he’s going to have before he’ll break the Iran deal, which he doesn’t expect to last even if he now understands it- which he did not earlier. Your idea that he’s masterfully cognizant of the delicate balances that force Iran to act the way it does, while perhaps worthy of merit on their own right, are your own. They have little to do with the meager information we’ve been able to glean from Trump.

Saying that this is how people from the NE think and that we’re holding him to an unfair standard because we don’t understand ‘what he’s putting down’ is not a convincing argument.

#37 Comment By Junior On March 29, 2016 @ 5:10 pm

@robz

“Kasich is the only candidate left on the Republican side who is the least bit honest.”

Yeah, Kasich’s honest about getting us into World War 3 with Russia as soon as possible.

#38 Comment By Junior On March 29, 2016 @ 6:11 pm

@ fast_Jimmy

“Saying that this is how people from the NE think and that we’re holding him to an unfair standard because we don’t understand ‘what he’s putting down’ is not a convincing argument.”

Okay, so how’s this for an argument? Do you want someone that “incoherently” talks about being a non-interventionist or do you want someone that coherently talks about being an interventionist?

Do you want to try to break the stranglehold that the NeoCons have on our foreign policy when there just MIGHT actually be a chance to do it by voting for Trump or do you want to go-along-to-get-along by supporting NeoCon Puppets Clinton, Cruz, or Kasich so that you can complain about it when they implement their blood-soaked agenda for the next four years?

#39 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 29, 2016 @ 6:29 pm

“It isn’t a matter of Trump not giving “pat” answers to questions. It is that he clearly does not have a clue what to do and he is simply answering questions in much the same knee jerk way that commenters on blogs and message boards give to the questions at hand (not casting aspersions on the commenters here, who by and large are better informed than most). Immigration’s a problem? Build a wall – the best most beautiful wall possible, and make Mexico pay for it!”

If you had any idea how much money we send south in aid, you wouldn’t make this comment. Sure there are ways to have them pay. Tariffs goods on entering and exiting the country — ever heard of a toll — they actually work. Subtract we spend on illegal immigrants and the wall will certainly be paid for. Add surcharges to every illegal immigrants who has children in the US school system. They are so many ways to extract the price at south’s (south is south of the border) expense and that price would be just. Every single illegal immigrant in our prisons — hard labor.

“Worried about trade agreements? Just force all the other parties to the agreements to accept terms much better for the United States and of course they will do it. If not, we will stop doing business with them.”

“Worried about the state of the US military? No problem, he’ll make it so big and so powerful no one will mess with US. Worried about the US having to pay for US military presence in other countries? Make them pay for everything or we’ll leave, as though there is no strategic reason for the US to be there.”

Given your hyperbolic responses to include references that Mr. trump has never stated. I want to be clear here. I am a huge fan of capitalism. But I also know that it does not exist in a vacuum, unencumbered by rules of nation states. That’s a lofty notion, but having been field tested just does not conform to the practices in history past, present nor likely to in the near future. States use their resources to benefit their people as it should be. Any notions of liberal non existent borders is unrealistic.

Apparently you do not understand the process of trade. If you understand the vast economic energies of the US now being taken advantage by other parties, you’d avoid making such statements. Of course we could negotiate better deals, countries do it all the time. And the idea of mutually beneficial is not some foreign term of reference. Given the success of our southern neighbor now ranked just below GB in GDP with impressive exports, largely to the US it’s hard to imagine them seeking business elsewhere — if they do good riddance. But given how they benefit, if the balance shifts less in their favor — highly unlikely.

“On and on and on he gives answers that work great in the simplest of worlds but have no rational basis in the world we live in. Just because the leaders we have are not going a great job is no reason to elect an utter buffoon and con artist who almost certainly will do a horrible job.”

Well, that’s a nice dance. I am unclear who I will vote for. But I intend to defend my candidates against false rhetorical arguments. Such as the reference to Mr. Trump as a buffoon. Acknowledging Mr. Trumps weaknesses as a candidate does not make him a “buffoon”. Buffoonery is more akin to engaging failed policies over and over again with same promoters of the same. I am huge fan of Pres. Bush. But I cannot pretend what went down regarding policy was in error on many fronts and they were not conservative in nature. From Iraq to prescription drugs —

That Sec Clinton supported all of those measures but one, NCLB, perhaps the most salient and his support for advocating abstinence and celibacy in schools along side whatever mixed nuts policies liberals offered. By the way, celibacy and abstinence actually work 100% of the time. In general, I just reject the name calling used so often in these discussions, they are largely undescriptive of what is taking place. Mr. trump is a buffoon if one attend only to the critical views of his opponents, who little or no time discussing policy. Which may very well sound simple to you, but for anyone grasping the magnitude of the issues, knows in some cases will require skill unto for here used. The simple is correct.

1. build a wall

2. renegotiate our trade policies or enact measures that protect the wealth of the US for benefit by her citiens as noted in the 14th amendment, not the liberal thinks tanks and feel good diversity sessions being forced down the gullet of students as if they wrote in stone. Nor the mamby pamby and churches assertions of churches who make the claim it’s of God to engage in support for illegal immigration thereby skirting their responsibility as Christian churches on two fronts:

1.obey the law and

2. serve — that means, home first, then out reach and at no time does Christ compel Christians to use the government as a surrogate for charity in his name. It’s a game and a lie bending Christ out of his form and purpose for political ends alone. This is not the state demanding a Christian participate in some unholy ceremony such as those who choose homosexual unions and call it marriage — God’s pretty clear they cannot do so. He also clear, that laws that do not compel any form of disobedience should be adhered — old school — Christ paid his taxes. Churches cannot support illegal immigration in his name — false claim. As false as homosexual choices are of God.

These discussions about trade as though what Mr. trump is advocating is some form of radical new economic practice is tiresome, laced with falsehoods and incorrect. Of course reconfiguring trade agreements is the simple and obvious choice — whether it can be simply done is another question, but just because someone states what should be obvious hardly makes them buffoons.

Nor does a defense of them make me or people like me buffoons.

#40 Comment By fast_Jimmy On March 29, 2016 @ 9:12 pm

Junior says:
@ fast_Jimmy

Okay, so how’s this for an argument? Do you want someone that “incoherently” talks about being a non-interventionist or do you want someone that coherently talks about being an interventionist?

Do you want to try to break the stranglehold that the NeoCons have on our foreign policy when there just MIGHT actually be a chance to do it by voting for Trump or do you want to go-along-to-get-along by supporting NeoCon Puppets Clinton, Cruz, or Kasich so that you can complain about it when they implement their blood-soaked agenda for the next four years?

That’s a good question, even though we disagree on whether or not Donald Trump coherently or convincingly presents a principled anti-interventionist argument.

As a foreign policy first voter, I think we’re in a real quandary. Cruz is terrible. Clinton is pretty bad.

On balance, I’m moving to the position that Clinton’s interventions are likely to be approximately as destructive as Obama’s, ie., damaging but not catastrophic- at least for the United States.

I would like it if Donald Trump presented us with a clear choice by elucidating a foreign policy similar to Rand Paul’s but he does not. I was very impressed by his forceful performance when he correctly hung the Iraq debacle around GWB’s neck. However, he’s all over the map on specifics while being vaguely rational in some general areas.

#41 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 29, 2016 @ 11:37 pm

It’s odd that so many hide behind the totlly obscured foreign regime change advance by the current executive or Sec. Clinton as if they have been in any way more lucid than the positions expressed by Mr. Trump that have sometimes been in stark detail.

Invasion of Libya, Syria were complete and total surprises to democrats as well as dismaying. And that anyone attempts to portray any of Sec Clinton’s behavior regarding any policy as anything but obstructionist and woven in secrecy is beyond the pail. Here’s an department who told the country that the violence in Libya was the result of a video tape —

On the naivete’ question spun on some remise of clarity, her supporters make Mr. Trumps advocates appear as if from a convent. And she did this knowing tat she and the executive had actually orchestrated the entire game. And when caught with her hands in the cookie dough, she blame her decimated staff in the embassy that had been requesting help as the violence escalated.

There is shrewed politics ad then there mendacious, scapegoating — even to her deceased staff.

Give it a rest already.

#42 Comment By Junior On March 30, 2016 @ 12:24 am

@ fast_Jimmy

“As a foreign policy first voter, I think we’re in a real quandary.”

Amen to that, Brother 🙂

“On balance, I’m moving to the position that Clinton’s interventions are likely to be approximately as destructive as Obama’s, ie., damaging but not catastrophic- at least for the United States.”

I feel that Clinton’s interventions would FAR exceed Obama’s in their destruction. Almost every single disaster in foreign policy that occurred during his administration occurred either while she was Secretary of State or as a direct result of it. Killing Gaddafi in Libya, Hillary. Running guns from Libya through Turkey into Syria to arm the Syrian “rebels”/ISIS, Hillary. Hiring NeoCon Victoria Nuland into State who was the architect of the Ukrainian “Coup”, Hillary. The woman is an extremely dangerous menace.

Now, I don’t know whether I am giving Obama to much credit(definitely NOT absolving him of blame), but I think Obama kept her somewhat restrained. He had to promise to give her the position in the ’08 election and it is a decision that is forever going to haunt his presidency. Obama proved that he wasn’t full-bore NeoCon puppet with at least SOME restraint when he decided against going into Syria after the whole Red Line thing. The thought of how our foreign policy would be run under a Clinton Presidency, without the restraint of Obama, honestly terrifies me.

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