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“Simply Has No Idea What He’s Talking About”: Trump’s Newest Dubious Boast: ‘I Do Know My Subject’

Last week, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump had a fairly long conversation with the Washington Post, which tried to explore his views on foreign policy in detail. The discussion made it abundantly clear that the GOP candidate simply has no idea what he’s talking about. It’s not just that Trump’s arguments are wrong; it’s also that he seems lost when it comes to basic details.

On Friday afternoon, it was the New York Times’ turn. Alas, it appears efforts to teach Trump about international affairs aren’t going well.

In criticizing the Iran nuclear deal, he expressed particular outrage at how the roughly $150 billion released to Iran (by his estimate; the number is in dispute) was being spent. “Did you notice they’re buying from everybody but the United States?” he said.

Told that sanctions under United States law still bar most American companies from doing business with Iran, he said: “So, how stupid is that? We give them the money and we now say, ‘Go buy Airbus instead of Boeing,’ right?”

But Mr. Trump, who has been pushed to demonstrate a basic command of international affairs, insisted that voters should not doubt his foreign policy fluency. “I do know my subject,” he said.

It’s quite clear, of course, that he doesn’t know his subject. The full transcript has been posted online, and honestly, it’s hard to even know which parts to highlight – because so much of the interview is incoherent. Andrea Mitchell noted on “Meet the Press” yesterday that Trump “is completely uneducated about any part of the world.” The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg added on “Face the Nation” that it’s “remarkable to imagine that someone who shows so little interest in understanding why the world is organized the way it is organized is this close to the presidency of the world’s only superpower.”

Trump noted, for example, that countries with “nuclear capability” represent the “biggest problem the world has.” Soon after, however, the candidate argued that the United States has to “talk about” allowing Japan and South Korea to have a nuclear arsenal of their own. He also referred to his fear of “nuclear global warming,” whatever that is.

Asked about U.S. policy towards China, Trump added this gem: “Would I go to war? Look, let me just tell you. There’s a question I wouldn’t want to answer. Because I don’t want to say I won’t or I will…. That’s the problem with our country. A politician would say, ‘Oh I would never go to war,’ or they’d say, ‘Oh I would go to war.’ I don’t want to say what I’d do because, again, we need unpredictability.”

In other words, just take a guess, American voters, before casting a ballot about the possible intentions of the country’s next Commander in Chief. Trump won’t tell you before the election, but don’t worry, he promises to be “unpredictable” – in a “winning” way.

Trump spoke with pride about his “take the oil” posture related to Iraq, but he conceded that would require deploying considerable U.S. ground troops, which he’s not prepared to do. “Now we have to destroy the oil,” he said articulating a new position.

I saw some comparisons over the weekend between these Trump interviews and the infamous Sarah Palin interview with Katie Couric in 2008. The parallels matter: both made clear that the Republican seeking national office was manifestly unprepared to lead.

But there are differences. First, Palin’s difficulties were televised, which tends to produce a different public reaction – along with excerpts that can be re-aired, over and over again, by a variety of networks – as compared to long print interviews.

And second, in 2016, it appears Trump’s ignorance, no matter how brazen, just isn’t seen as a problem among his Republican supporters.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, March 28, 2016

March 29, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Foreign Policy, International Affairs | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Rubio Recycles Romney’s Risible Rubbish”: Shockingly “Uninformed” About International Affairs And Security Issues

Marco Rubio used to consider immigration his signature issue. When that didn’t turn out well, the Florida senator decided national security would be his new area of expertise.

Maybe he should keep looking. Consider this line from last night’s debate.

“Today, we are on pace to have the smallest Army since the end of World War II, the smallest Navy in 100 years, the smallest Air Force in our history. You cannot destroy ISIS with a military that’s being diminished.”

It’s amazing to me that Rubio, for all of his purported interest in the subject, still doesn’t understand the basics.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently said his party’s national candidates “don’t know what they’re talking about” and maintain a “level of dialogue on national security issues would embarrass a middle schooler.” Why Rubio is so eager to prove Gates right is a mystery.

As we discussed over the summer, when the senator first started pushing this line, this was actually one of Mitt Romney’s more embarrassing talking points.

Indeed, this was the basis for arguably the biggest takedown of the 2012 presidential campaign. In the third debate between President Obama and Romney, the Republican complained, “Our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917…. Our Air Force is older and smaller than at any time since it was founded in 1947.”

Romney had used the same argument many times on the stump, and the prepared president pounced. “Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed,” Obama explained. “We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting ships. It’s what are our capabilities?”

It was a rough moment for the Republican, whose canned talking points were made to look ridiculous. And yet, Rubio insists on repeating them.

Bloomberg Politics had a good piece on this a while back, noting that the GOP senator’s arguments “don’t add up.”

[T]he numbers of ships and planes don’t define U.S. military capabilities. Modern warships, notably aircraft carriers and submarines, are far more effective and lethal than their World War II predecessors.

The Air Force is preparing to field the costliest jet fighter ever built, Lockheed Martin’s F-35, and already has the second generation F-22 with stealth characteristics. Advances in precision guidance and intelligence collection make even older aircraft such as the F-15 and F-16 far more capable than the jets that preceded them.

Romney at least had a decent excuse – he had no foreign policy experience, no national security experience, no working understanding of how the military operates, and he hadn’t even held public office for the six years leading up to the 2012 campaign.

But Rubio claims to be his party’s most impressive expert on matters of national security – the Republican authority on keeping Americans safe. So why is he relying on discredited talking points from a candidate who failed four years ago?

Of course, this was just one example from last night’s debate. Slate’s Fred Kaplan described the entire Republican field as “clueless” and “shockingly uninformed” about international affairs and security issues.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, January 29, 2016

January 31, 2016 Posted by | Immigration Reform, International Affairs, Marco Rubio, National Security | , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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