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Trump’s Ridiculous Foreign Policy

Donald Trump made the mistake of sitting down for an interview [1] with Hugh Hewitt. His grasp on relevant foreign policy details was not very good [2]:

Donald J. Trump revealed gaps in his mastery of international affairs during a radio interview on Thursday, appearing to mistake the Quds Force, an Iranian military group, for the Kurds, a Middle Eastern people, and growing testy over questions about foreign leaders.

“You’re asking me names that — I think it’s somewhat ridiculous,” Mr. Trump told Hugh Hewitt, a popular conservative radio show host. “As far as the individual players, of course I don’t know them. I’ve never met them. I haven’t been, you know, in a position to meet them.”

Each time that he was pressed to demonstrate some relevant knowledge about a particular part of the world, Trump either evaded the question or complained about “gotcha” questions that he refused to answer. As bad as the interview seemed to be for Trump, the striking thing was how often Hewitt was willing to indulge the candidate’s nonsensical answers. For instance, Trump repeated the obvious lie that the nuclear deal would require the U.S. to defend Iran against an attacker. Instead of correcting or challenging him on this plainly absurd and untrue statement, Hewitt approved of Trump’s ridiculous position. Hewitt said:

It’s remarkable, and I’m glad you know about it. And I’m glad you’ll stand with Israel.

Trump was repeating a complete falsehood [3], but Hewitt praised him because the talk radio host is just as committed to unfounded arguments against the nuclear deal as the candidate was. Later on, when Trump was asked what he would do in the event of a conflict between China and U.S. allies in East Asia, Trump dodged by saying, “You don’t want the other side to know. I don’t want to give you an answer to that.” In other words, Trump had no answer one way or the other, and so he hid behind the pretense that he was concealing a cunning plan that he didn’t want to reveal. Instead of pressing him for an answer, Hewitt nodded along and replied, “Fair response. Good response.” In fact, it was an awful, completely useless response, but Hewitt allowed it to pass without criticism.

As annoyed with Hewitt as Trump might have been by the end, the important thing to remember is that Hewitt indulged and played along with Trump’s ridiculous answers on foreign policy most of the time. In some cases, he endorsed and affirmed those answers despite the fact that they were nonsense. Far from being the “gotcha” interview that Trump whined about, it allowed Trump to dominate the conversation. The fact that Trump still came across sounding ignorant and unqualified is that much more damning.

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60 Comments To "Trump’s Ridiculous Foreign Policy"

#1 Comment By Glaivester On September 6, 2015 @ 10:01 am

I think the scariest aspect of this is that his deep ignorance is seems to be one of the things his supporters love most about him. If it was simply a matter of being willing to forgive a candidate for having gaps in their knowledge, that’s one thing. But it’s far worse than that because his supports believe that knowledge is weakness, thinking is cowering, attitude is everything, and brains are a poor substitute for testicles.

Nonsense. What people like about Trump is that he actually talks about protecting American interests, rather than trying to convince the American people that his latest plan to screw them will be really good for them.

When Trump says he will make Mexico pay for the wall, or will force China to do this or that, most Americans aren’t thinking “by Jove, he will do that!” They are thinking “he probably can’t go as far as that, but at least he sees himself as working for us.” The assumption is that all of the other candidates are basically going to be on China’s side on any trade deals because big business is. And Jeb is seen pretty much as putting Mexico’s interests above America’s. The fact that he speaks mostly Spanish at home and seems more animated when talking in Spanish don’t help the perception that he sees the American people as an obstacle rather than as his constituents.

It’s not about bluster versus brains. The problem is that the other candidates seem to always be finding excuses for supporting policies that screw over Americans. We don’t think they are using their brains for us.

#2 Comment By Kurt Gayle On September 6, 2015 @ 2:06 pm

Very relevant to this discussion is TAC’s reposting today of Pat Buchanan’s excellent Sept. 6, 2011 essay “How Capital Crushed Labor.”

Of all candidates for President in both parties only Donald Trump has seriously addressed this burning issue!


#3 Comment By Fernando Martinez On September 6, 2015 @ 6:21 pm

I want an American president to focus on USA and not the rest of the world.

#4 Comment By RMThoughts On September 7, 2015 @ 12:31 pm

Common sense is Trumps foreign policy – and it can be applied in generous portions wherever it is needed. For example Trump used common sense when it affirmed that if he becomes president, he will strictly enforce the Vienna nuclear accord with Iran rather than kill it. Drives the neocons mad.
Trump’s rivals seeking the Republican Party’s nomination for the 2016 presidential election have vie with each other who can oppose more rabidly the agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries and many have vowed to undo it. Trump said he said he would comply with the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Tehran but will strictly makes sure it is complied with.
The other clapping seals in the race have continued the same old tired shrill routine where they are all dutifully lined up at every turn to declare that the nuclear negotiations and de-escalation with Iran are the road to doom. Trump instinctively knows that the voters are sick and tired and fed up to their eyeballs with unceasing war and the interminable problems created for us by the Israeli lobby. He knows it, and everybody else knows it.

#5 Comment By Jeremy On September 7, 2015 @ 8:38 pm

“Trump instinctively knows that the voters are sick and tired and fed up to their eyeballs with unceasing war and the interminable problems created for us by the Israeli lobby. He knows it, and everybody else knows it.”

You’re kidding, right? Most Americans are more pro-Israel than ever, and Trump has attacked his opponents for not being pro-Israel enough. He is also attending a rally with Ted Cruz to oppose the same Iran deal you believe he supports.

I cannot believe how utterly deluded the Trump supporters here are.

#6 Comment By Jeremy On September 7, 2015 @ 8:44 pm

“Trump is a Neocon’s wet dream! While he’s far more competent in Business that Dubya ever was, he is just as clueless in matters of Middle East foreign policy…which is all that matters.”

You’re right, JR. And yet nothing shakes the resolute support of his ostensibly paleocon fans in the TAC comments.

#7 Comment By Chesapeake Chet On September 7, 2015 @ 9:44 pm

Yes, ignorance on the foreign policy front is a very bad sign, particularly in Republican candidate, because it suggests the grim possibility that neocons will creep back into government and drag us into more Middle East messes. It would also make it easier for the Israelis and other parasites to increase the size and scope of their ongoing ripoff of the American taxpayer and interference in our government.

Trump is better off focusing on what people like about his candidacy: defending the border, American workers, and holding our corrupt, incompetent elites to account by firings, prosecutions, and prison sentences.

#8 Comment By Emilio On September 7, 2015 @ 11:01 pm

Jeremy, one can agree with everything RMThoughts says and still not be a Trump supporter. It’s one thing to say here’s what’s Trump is doing and this is how he’s doing it, it’s another to approve of it. Trump in the big picture is a volatile demagogue and completely unsupportable as a serious politician or agent of change. But the criticism should be fair. Trump is doing well because he comes from several angles: maverick nationalist bravado, like building walls and taking oil; broad common sense, like Iraq was terrible and most politicians are bought; and he satisfies the pro-Israel right but doesn’t dwell on it, which is a pretty common political tactic anyone can adopts toward any high profile contentious issue. He does it with abortion as well. And I’m sure he is sincere about his conversion, or his genuine support for Bibi. It seems to me, though, that he’d rather not dwell too much on either topic.

#9 Comment By Ben_C On September 8, 2015 @ 12:40 am

“I think it is clear by now: Israel has shown remarkable restraint. It possesses a military with clear superiority over that of its Palestinian neighbors, yet it does not respond to threat after threat, provocation after provocation, with the type of force that would decisively end their conflict.

But sometimes restraint can work against you. Sometimes you just have to say, enough is enough.”

–Randy Paul, July 1st, 2014

#10 Comment By Bernie On September 8, 2015 @ 10:06 am

I would like to know why TAC is not covering Bernie Sanders’ foreign policy. I guess we know Hillary Clinton’s since she was Secretary of State. Sanders is ahead of Clinton by 9 points in New Hampshire and closing in fast on her in Iowa.

Trump, Trump, Trump. Why can’t a magazine that uses the word “Conservative” in its title explore Bernie Sanders’ foreign policy and military views? He was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War and says his views have changed. What is his stance toward Israel and what does he think the size and role of the U.S. military should be? Why is TAC so obviously one-sided in its reporting on the Republican vs. Democratic campaigns? There’s more to the race than Donald Trump. Try to be balanced, TAC.