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Trump’s Policy-Free “Foreign Policy” Speech

Flickr / Andrew Cohen (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The New York Timesattempts to report on Donald Trump’s rambling, mostly content-free “foreign policy” speech earlier today:

He called for a military buildup so broad that no foe would challenge the U.S., as well as a new health care deal for veterans. In doing so, he again swiped at people who are in the country illegally, a refrain that has powered his campaign since the start. Trump gave no details on how he would pay for an expansion in the armed forces — or veterans’ health care — leaving his foreign policy agenda still mostly a blank slate [bold mine-DL].

The report is necessarily very short, since there were almost no arguments or proposals in the speech to be described or judged one way or the other. He repeated various falsehoods about the nuclear deal, including the canard that Iran will be permitted to “self-inspect,” and made many of the same broad, unfounded assertions about the agreement that he made at the rally in Washington last week. Trump’s event was newsworthy mainly because he received the endorsement of the event’s organizers, the group called Veterans for a Strong America, and told us absolutely nothing useful about what he would in office or how he would propose to pay for any of it. It was nothing more than a string of fanciful assertions that various problems would be solved because Trump claims it will be so, and the assembled crowd ate it up. Trump is hardly the only candidate in the 2016 field with a poor grasp of foreign policy, but he is unusual in that he repeatedly advertises how little he knows and takes pride in his simplistic statements. There was nothing in the speech that suggested that Trump had made any effort to improve his understanding of the relevant issues that he’ll be asked about tomorrow night at the debate. The speech and the crowd’s reaction to it confirmed that the Trump phenomenon thrives on total indifference and even hostility to policy substance and specialized knowledge.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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