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“International Alarm”: World Watches Trump’s Rise With Fear, Trepidation

The United States is not just another democracy on the map. Plenty of countries have elections to choose their heads of state, but given the unique role the U.S. has as a global superpower, and the effects of our policies on the international stage, a global audience keeps an eye on our presidential elections with scrutiny other countries don’t receive.

After all, we’re choosing the “Leader of the Free World.”

But just as the U.S. is not just another democracy, 2016 is not just another election. While international observers tend to watch American presidential elections with a degree of curiosity, this year, the world is experiencing a very different kind of sentiment.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham tried to reassure foreign leaders that Donald Trump is nothing to worry about during a trip to the Middle East last week. “Everybody asked me about Trump in terms of policy changes. I said he is an outlier, don’t look at him,” Graham told reporters Thursday about his overseas trip.

The most serious concerns Graham said leaders from Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt expressed raised were regarding Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban most Muslims from entering the United States.

The South Carolina Republican, hardly a liberal, added that many of the leaders he spoke to were “dumbfounded that somebody running for president of the United States would suggest that the United States ban everybody in their faith.” Officials abroad, he added, are “bewildered.”

There’s a lot of this going around. At a White House briefing this week, a reporter asked President Obama whether Trump’s foreign-policy proposals are “already doing damage” to America’s reputation. “The answer … is yes,” Obama responded. “I think that I’ve been very clear earlier that I am getting questions constantly from foreign leaders about some of the wackier suggestions that are being made.”

Last week, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) returned from a trip abroad and said officials in Israel and Turkey specifically pressed him on the anti-Muslim rhetoric in the Republican presidential race.

All of this dovetails with reporting from a month ago about international “alarm” over Trump from officials in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia.

A senior NATO official, speaking before the Republican frontrunner talked publicly about abandoning the treaty organization, was quoted telling Reuters, “European diplomats are constantly asking about Trump’s rise with disbelief and, now, growing panic.”

As we talked about at the time, there’s ample speculation about the message the United States would send to the world if Trump was elected president. But there’s probably not enough speculation about the damage the success of Trump’s campaign is already doing to the nation’s reputation.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 8, 2016

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, World Leaders | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Huge, Glitzy, Unembarrassed”: Trump’s Incoherence Veers Into The Danger Zone

Perhaps the laws of political gravity are about to take hold in the case of Donald Trump. But the lesson of this appalling primary season cautions against discounting Trump’s appeal — which prompts another Trump column, this one on the utter incoherence of his policy views.

It’s not simply that Trump is wrong on policy. Ted Cruz is wrong on policy. Trump is wrong on policy and argues for policy positions glaringly inconsistent with his asserted principles. All politicians do this, sure. But Trump’s incoherence is classically Trumpian — huge, glitzy, unembarrassed.

That phenomenon was on vivid display last week, as world leaders gathered for a summit on nuclear nonproliferation. On this topic, Trump stands, or says he does, with the global consensus. He raised the issue in his discussion with The Post’s editorial board, in response to a question about whether he believes in man-made climate change.

“The biggest risk to the world, to me . . . is nuclear weapons,” Trump said. “That is a disaster, and we don’t even know where the nuclear weapons are right now. . . . The biggest risk for this world and this country is nuclear weapons, the power of nuclear weapons.”

Okay, and — leaving aside the strange suggestion that authorities don’t know where the nukes are — give Trump credit for emphasizing the nuclear risk.

Except, jump ahead a few days, to Trump’s interview with the New York Times and his CNN town hall. Given Trump’s argument that the United States should withdraw military protections from Japan and South Korea, the Times’s David E. Sanger and Maggie Haberman asked: Should those countries be able to obtain their own nuclear weapons?

Trump’s answer managed to combine his concerns about proliferation with opening the door to more. “There’ll be a point at which we’re just not going to be able to do it anymore,” he said. “Now, does that mean nuclear? It could mean nuclear. It’s a very scary nuclear world. . . . At the same time, you know, we’re a country that doesn’t have money.”

So the United States can’t afford a nuclear deterrent? The cost of maintaining and modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal was $24 billion in 2015, and is expected to total about $350 billion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The cost of Trump’s proposed tax cuts is around $1 trillion — annually. I’m no billionaire, but that doesn’t seem like a smart balance of spending priorities.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper pushed Trump further on the conflict between his anti-proliferation stance and his willingness to allow more proliferation — during which Trump opened the door to a nuclear Saudi Arabia, closed it, and then cracked it open again.

Cooper: “So you have no problem with Japan and South Korea having . . . nuclear weapons.”

Trump: “At some point we have to say, you know what, we’re better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea, we’re better off, frankly, if South Korea is going to start to protect itself . . .”

Cooper: “So if you said, Japan, yes, it’s fine, you get nuclear weapons, South Korea, you as well, and Saudi Arabia says we want them, too?”

Trump: “Can I be honest with you? It’s going to happen, anyway. . . . It’s only a question of time.”

This is a radical position, even contained to South Korea and Japan. “That would be an incredible catastrophe,” said Kingston Reif of the Arms Control Association. “We have a big enough problem with stability in that region without introducing two new nuclear weapons states.”

The cornerstone of U.S. nuclear policy for decades has been to prevent additional countries from acquiring nuclear capability. The more countries with nuclear weapons, the greater the risk of use, and of technology and material falling into the wrong hands. China would likely respond by increasing its nuclear arsenal. Other countries would lobby to go nuclear. U.S. influence in the region — on trade rules that Trump cares about, for example — would wane.

“No contender for the presidency of the United States in either party has ever said that since nuclear weapons were invented,” Michael Green of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who served on the National Security Council under George W. Bush and advised the Jeb Bush campaign, said of Trump’s view. “It would cost us enormously . . . in terms of the steps we’d have to take to defend ourselves against a much more weaponized world.”

There are other examples of Trumpian incoherence, but perhaps none so striking, and so dangerous if taken seriously.

 

By: Ruth Marcus, Columnist, The Washington Post, April 3, 2016

April 4, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Nuclear Weapons, World Leaders | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Real Danger In Trump’s Rhetoric”: Hurting America’s Standing With Allies And Helping Recruit More Extremists

September, 2015: “I love the Muslims, I think they’re great people.”

Would he appoint a Muslim to his cabinet? “Oh, absolutely, no problem with that.”

Yes, that was Donald Trump three months ago. Now, his campaign’s Dec. 7 press release states: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” This comes in addition to his calls for surveillance against mosques and the possible creation of a national database of Muslims in the U.S.

Many of the Republican candidates for president have not hesitated to echo Trump’s bellicose rhetoric on immigration or other anti-Muslim statements. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz even introduced legislation to keep refugees from coming to the U.S. for at least three years who are from countries where there is a “substantial” amount of control by the Islamic State group or al-Qaida.

But, now, they seem to have had enough: Jeb Bush tweeted that Trump is “unhinged”; Ohio Gov. John Kasich condemned Trump’s “outrageous divisiveness that characterizes his every breath”; former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore called it “fascist talk”; Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted “every candidate for president needs to do the right thing & condemn” Trump; and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said “we do not need to resort to that type of activity.”

Even Dick “Darth Vader” Cheney said, “I think this whole notion that somehow we can just say no more Muslims, just ban a whole religion, goes against everything we stand for and believe in. I mean, religious freedom has been a very important part of our history and where we came from. A lot of people, my ancestors got here, because they were Puritans.”

But the real danger of Trump’s rhetoric and policies is not domestic or political here at home – though one can argue that it makes us less safe and more vulnerable – it is from our friends and allies abroad.

Here is what the French prime minister tweeted: “Mr. Trump, like others, strokes hatred; our ONLY enemy is radical Islamism.” A spokeswoman for British Prime Minister David Cameron called the remarks “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong … what politicians need to do is to look at ways they can bring communities together and make clear that these terrorists are not representative of Islam and indeed what they are doing is a perversion of Islam.”

A columnist for Israel’s Haaretz wrote: “For some Jews, the sight of thousands of supporters waving their fists in anger as Trump incited against Muslims and urged a blanket ban on their entry to the United States could have evoked associations with beer halls in Munich a century ago.” In Pakistan it was called “the worst kind of bigotry mixed with ignorance” by a leading human rights activist.

Trump’s ban would even include world leaders who are Muslim. They would not be allowed into the United States, let alone tourists or relatives of Americans or world renowned individuals coming for a scientific meeting here.

Just like his plan to deport 12 million people, the absurdity is readily apparent. But put yourself in the shoes of of one of the 1.7 billion people across the globe who is a Muslim, 23 percent of the world’s population; you are watching the leading Republican candidate for president of the United States making these statements.

How many recruits will the Islamic State group gain from Trump’s move toward fascism? How confused will young, angry, poor Muslims in the war-torn Middle East be, and how many Muslims will believe “successful” Donald Trump represents American thought and values and our approach to the world?

How long will it take for us to undo this damage? How many years? What price will we pay?

Those may be the scariest questions of all.

 

By: Peter Fenn, Political Strategist and Head of Fenn Communications, U. S. News and World Report, December 9, 2015

December 10, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, ISIS, World Leaders | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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