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“Nothing To Do With The Office He’s Seeking”: Trump’s Scottish Trip Is A Bigger Mistake Than He Realizes

There’s a fair amount of precedent for presidential candidates traveling abroad ahead of the election. In July 2008, for example, then-Sen. Barack Obama wowed international audiences with a historic visit to Berlin. Almost exactly four years later, in July 2012, Mitt Romney took an overseas trip of his own. (It really didn’t go well for the Republican.)

So when Donald Trump’s campaign said the presumptive GOP nominee would travel to Scotland ahead of the Republican convention, it was only natural to assume Trump was headed abroad to bolster his foreign policy credentials.

But as the New York Times reported, the truth is a little more complicated.

His campaign is desperately short of cash. He has struggled to hire staff. Influential Republicans are demanding that he demonstrate he can run a serious general election campaign.

But, for reasons that emphasize just how unusual a candidate he is, Donald J. Trump is leaving the campaign trail on Thursday to travel to Scotland to promote a golf course his company purchased on the country’s southwestern coast.

This may sound like some sort of joke, but it’s quite real. This isn’t a situation in which an American presidential hopeful has scheduled meetings with foreign officials, and he’s checking in on his business interests while he’s there; it’s largely the opposite. Trump’s Scottish sojourn appears to have practically nothing to do with the office he’s seeking.

The Times report added that Trump’s business interests “still drive his behavior, and his schedule. He has planned two days in Scotland, with no meetings with government or political leaders scheduled.” The Republican’s itinerary “reads like a public relations junket crossed with a golf vacation,” complete with “a ceremonial ribbon cutting.”

Scott W. Reed, senior political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, added, “Everyone knows this is the wrong thing for the nominee to be doing now, and it is amazing this can’t be stopped.”

Wait, it’s even more amazing than that.

If the Scottish golf course were a wildly successful venture, Trump could at least point to this as evidence of his prowess as an international businessman.

Indeed, Trump has made exactly such an effort. In a Scottish newspaper, he recently wrote an op-ed with a headline that read, “How Scotland will help me become president.” In the piece, the Republican candidate wrote, “When I first arrived on the scene in Aberdeen, the people of Scotland were testing me to see just how serious I was – just like the citizens in the United States have done about my race for the White House…. I had to win them over – I had to convince them that I meant business and that I had their best interests in mind. Well, Scotland has already been won – and so will the United States.”

The problem, as the Washington Post reported yesterday, is that the entire venture has been a bit of a disaster.

[T]o many people in Scotland, his course here has been a failure. Over the past decade, Trump has battled with homeowners, elbowed his way through the planning process, shattered relationships with elected leaders and sued the Scottish government. On top of that, he has yet to fulfill the lofty promises he made.

Trump has also reported to Scottish authorities that he lost millions of dollars on the project – even as he claims on U.S. presidential disclosure forms that the course has been highly profitable.

In early May, Trump, in an entirely serious way, pointed to his role in the Miss Universe beauty pageant as evidence of his international experience. Unfortunately for the GOP candidate, his Scottish golf course is his other piece of evidence, and it’s a failure.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 23, 2016

June 25, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Foreign Policy, Presidential Candidates | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Donald Trump’s Bar-Stool Foreign Policy”: Disastrous In A Man Who Sits In The Oval Office

The best reason for conservatives to withhold their support from Donald Trump is that he cannot be trusted to lead America’s foreign policy or command its military. For many this is so self-evident given Trump’s character and the lack of normal political constraints under which he operates, that there’s no need to elaborate. But some need convincing.

Many of Trump’s supporters are happy that he seems to have taken on the foreign policy orthodoxies of his party. They want an America that doesn’t waste trillions of dollars in fruitless efforts like turning Iraq into a democracy, or helping Libyan rebels only to see that country become an operating base for ISIS. They know that Hillary Clinton’s instinct is to use American air power in the name of human rights even if it leads to pro-Islamist outcomes, whether in Kosovo or Libya. In fact, I want and believe the same things.

But there aren’t strong reasons to believe Trump is any better than Clinton when it comes to making peace. In fact, he may be much worse.

Trump supported all the dumb wars and interventions that he now claims to have been against. He supported President George W. Bush on invading Iraq. Though he says he was against it, Trump supported the intervention in Libya in the most anti-realist terms possible when he said, “We’ve got to go in and save these lives.” He is just all over the place, saying that we shouldn’t be involved in Syria, and then a few minutes later saying that the U.S. should create safe zones in Syria.

The simple explanation for these changes is that Donald Trump hasn’t ever thought hard about foreign policy; he simply has an instinct for where public opinion is at any moment on any given war and runs ahead of it. That’s fine for someone holding forth at the bar stool. It’s disastrous in a man who sits in the Oval Office.

Almost the entirety of the foreign policy establishment is against Donald Trump. That includes not just the hawkish neoconservatives, but also the foreign policy realists who would be the only group of advisors that could shape Trump’s “America First” foreign policy into a real alternative to the last 25 years of post-Cold War interventionism. He would simply be disarmed of the kind of expertise needed to run America’s foreign policy. Getting his way with the full-time employed members of the State and Defense Departments will prove difficult and lead to upheaval or administrative gridlock, at best.

Trump has named a handful of under-qualified foreign policy hands. Some of them are quite alarming in themselves, like Walid Phares, who has repeatedly sounded the bell that Muslims have a secret plot to take over America and impose sharia law.

Trump seems to believe any and every conspiracy theory that passes by his nose — not just that vaccines cause Down syndrome or that Barack Obama may be a secret Kenyan. He has said he believed that Obama struck a deal with the Saudis to keep oil prices low ahead of his re-election in 2012. If you thought that it was bad when the Bush administration came to believe its own bad intelligence, imagine what a Trump administration would do when the president wants to believe something. Beyond that, Trump has promised that American military members will commit war crimes and other acts of torture on his say-so, merely because he is Donald Trump.

America is already too quick to use its military power to try to shape outcomes in far-off places throughout the world. This defect would only be exacerbated if a person with Trump’s twitchy sense of honor and aggression steps into the role of commander-in-chief.

The very fact that most of the elected officials of the Republican Party — including those that once called Trump a “cancer,” a “con artist,” or an “erratic individual” who can’t be trusted with America’s nuclear arsenal — have lined up to endorse him or even become his vice president shows that our political class is unlikely to resist him doing something truly dangerous if he is perceived as popular. Too many, when faced with the choice between their high principles and Trump, chose Trump as an expediency. We should not tempt them with a choice between their president and the security of our nation.

 

By: Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Week, May 30, 2016

June 2, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Foreign Policy, U. S. Military | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A One-Man Lloyd’s Of London”: If Only Trump Came With A Money-Back Guarantee

Donald Trump makes more guarantees than a used-car salesman. I guarantee you.

He guarantees Mexico will pay for the border wall. “I’ll get Mexico to pay for it one way or the other. I guarantee you that.”

He guarantees that his still-secret tax returns are the hugest ever. “They’re very big tax returns,” he said after the New Hampshire primary. “I guarantee you this, the biggest ever in the history of what we’re doing. . . . But we’ll be releasing them.”

He guarantees that Karl Rove and David Axelrod were more violent with crowds than Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. “I guarantee you they probably did stuff that was more physical than this.”

And, memorably, he guarantees us that his penis isn’t small. “I guarantee you, there’s no problem. I guarantee you.”

The guy is a one-man Lloyd’s of London. But how will he make good on all his assurance policies? Are they money-back guarantees? Full faith and credit guarantees?

Some Trump promises are 100 percent guaranteed. When he tells the president of Ford Motor Co. that the company will be taxed if it builds a factory overseas, “I guarantee you 100 percent he will say, ‘Mr. President, we have decided to build our plant in the United States.’ ” (Trump at another point guaranteed the time by which Ford would capitulate: “I would say by 4 o’clock in the afternoon . . . But I guarantee you, by 5 o’clock the next day.”)

Other guarantees are clearly not 100 percent. “Another plane was blown up, and I can practically guarantee who blew it up,” he said of the EgyptAir crash, even though the cause still hasn’t been officially determined, and no terrorist group has claimed responsibility.

But here’s something you can really take to the bank. Trump’s “guarantees” are like pretty much everything else that comes out of his mouth: The truth is not high on his list of considerations, and he seldom suffers any consequences for the nonsense.

A notable exception came in recent days when The Post’s David Fahrenthold — dubbed “a nasty guy” by Trump for his efforts — reported that Trump hadn’t made good on his promise to donate $6 million to veterans’ charities after a January fundraiser. Trump, asked about the $6 million, said, “I didn’t say six.” Good thing he didn’t guarantee that he didn’t say six. Fahrenthold found video of Trump using the $6 million figure twice at the fundraiser itself and for several days after — including one TV appearance in which he repeated the figure four times in six sentences.

On Monday, the day before he came clean on the donations to veterans, Trump spoke at the Rolling Thunder gathering on the Mall. He claimed there were “600,000 people here trying to get in,” but organizers put attendance at 5,000 — and there weren’t long lines security lines.

I can practically guarantee you Trump knew that line would be in this column. At a candidates’ forum in November, Trump noted the full house and said that “the people in the media will not report that, I guarantee, because I know how their minds work.” If you think that was clairvoyant, consider that Trump, introduced to a 48-year-old mother and told nothing about her health insurance, decreed: “I guarantee you that she probably doesn’t have health care and if she does it’s terrible.”

Trump guarantees are sometimes technical (“I guarantee you they have substandard parts in nuclear and in airplanes because they get them from China”), sometimes audacious (“I know a way that would absolutely give us guaranteed victory” over the Islamic State) and occasionally quantitative: “I guarantee you” that if he negotiated with Iran, “a deal would be made that’s 100 times better.”

One hundred times better — or your money back!

Many of Trump’s guarantees will never be tested because they occur in alternate realities. After Ted Cruz and John Kasich tried to team up against Trump, the candidate said, “I guarantee you if they had it to do again [they] would have never done it.”

As for Trump’s uncouth antics, he says: “If I acted presidential, I guarantee you that this morning I wouldn’t be here” on top.

Diplomacy: “I guarantee you our relationships will be far better than they are right now.”

The tariff on Japanese cars entering the United States: “I guarantee you it’s probably zero.”

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: “Our guys have never even read it. I’ll guarantee you that.”

China and the TPP: “I guarantee you. . . . They’re going to come in through the back door in a later date.”

Hillary Clinton’s email server: “I guarantee you one thing: We’re going to be talking about those emails every moment of every day.”

Trump was guaranteed not to honor that last promise. It would have left him no time to make other guarantees.

 

By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, May 31, 2016

June 1, 2016 Posted by | Domestic Policy, Donald Trump, Foreign Policy | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Trump Wants To Play Nice With Kim Jong Un”: What Does Trump Have That North Korea Wants?

Donald Trump has reprised his willingness to engage with autocrats. According to an exclusive interview with Reuters yesterday, Trump said he would be willing to speak to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the latest in a line of positive comments about strongmen around the world.

“I would speak to him, I would have no problem speaking to him,” said the likely Republican nominee. Trump said he would use his own strongman tactics against North Korea’s sole international supporter, China.

“I would put a lot of economic pressure on China because economically we have tremendous power over China. People don’t realize that,” he said of a nation of 1.3 billion people that makes up the world’s second largest economy to get North Korea to the table, given it is the Hermit Kingdom’s only major diplomatic and economic supporter. “And we have tremendous power over China. China can solve that problem with one meeting or one phone call.”

His hunch on how engaging with a country that has closed its borders to the world for over half a century appears incredibly naive. Asked how China could make a difference in North Korea’s stature, he said, “Because they have tremendous power over North Korea.”

He further tried to dispel questions about his knowledge of international affairs by reminding the interviewer that China, like North Korea, also had nuclear weapons.

But the bigger question, one left unasked by Reuters‘ reporters, remains. What does Trump have that North Korea wants? The country exists outside the capitalist global economy. Its leadership has maintained an iron grip over all public life, a grip that’s gotten even tighter since Kim Jong Un succeeded his father in 2011.

Sanctions have done little to dissuade it from continuing to pursue a nuclear program. Nor did the Sunshine Policies, a series of friendly actions enacted between 1998 and 2007 by South Korea which resulted in increased aid to the north, lead to changes in North Korea’s behavior.

“There are no positive changes to North Korea’s position that correspond to the support and cooperation offered by us,” said a report released by the South Korean government shortly after ending the program.

The Chinese government responded to the comments by also supporting dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea. “China supports direct talks and communication between the United States and North Korea. We believe this is beneficial,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei.

This is not the first time Trump has spoken positively of autocratic regimes. Last December, he praised Russian President Vladimir Putin as “a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.” Then in March, he drew the ire of many when he described the Tiananmen Square massacre as a “riot” that was “put down with strength.”

However, international politics requires more than the willingness to talk, especially when it comes to North Korea, a country whose leadership remains ideologically opposed to the U.S. and capitalism. North Korean propaganda depicts America as the literal embodiment of capitalist excess, and it’s uncertain if North Korean leadership would even be interested in speaking to Trump in the first place.

 

By: Saif Alnuweiri, The National Memo, May 19, 2016

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Foreign Policy, North Korea | , , , , | Leave a comment

“On Behalf Of The Inner Circle”: Earning The Contempt Of The Foreign Policy Establishment

Whenever I see an article by James Poulos, I have to admit that I approach it with a certain amount of disgust. That’s because, back in 2012 he wrote what I consider to be the most misogynist column I’ve read in a long time. You’ll get some idea of just how obnoxious it was from the title: What Are Women For? But his content and conclusions were equally horrible. Rather than rehash all of that here, you can go read what I wrote about it at the time.

I say all of that by way of introduction to the reason I was intrigued when I saw that Poulos had written something titled: The contemptuous certainty of Barack Obama. You might recall that recently I used President Obama as the prime example in suggesting that uncertainty is a liberal value. So of course I was intrigued to find out how someone would accuse him of “contemptuous certainty.”

It seems that for Poulos, it is the President’s rejection of the “Washington Playbook” that is the problem. And he finds proof of that in the much-disputed profile of National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes by David Samuels.

It appears that President Obama decided very early on that the Beltway’s foreign policy establishment was not to be trusted to do the right thing — or even to think independently about what the right thing might be…

This crew, of which Rhodes is just one member, simply does not care that it has torched its reputation with a broad swath of D.C.’s most reasonable and experienced foreign policy makers and analysts…

To a key set of mainliners, Democrats included, whom Clinton will need to rally, Rhodes’ words came off as a bizarre and unseemly end zone dance on behalf of an inner circle whose deep disrespect for the foreign policy establishment is an open secret in Washington.

It is not often that one actually finds comfort in the analysis of right wing conservatives. But that was exactly my reaction to reading this. During the Cold War, even Democratic Presidents didn’t do much to distinguish themselves from perpetuating the mistakes of the Washington Playbook. To see a conservative accurately depict the current occupant of the White House as someone who has been willing to earn their contempt is a great relief…finally!

 

By: Nancy  LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 13, 2016

May 14, 2016 Posted by | Ben Rhoads, Foreign Policy, Right Wing | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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