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“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

“Do You Endorse Him Or Not?”: Memo To Republicans; If You Endorse Trump, You’re Destroying Your Career

This is not a fun time to be a Republican politician. Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee of the party, you have a choice to make: Do you endorse him or not? The answer should be pretty clear: You don’t.

But before I explain why, let’s first look at the three big reasons you might feel compelled to.

1. He’s the party’s nominee, and that’s what you do. Well, sure. But that’s not a universal rule. And shouldn’t you want to be known as a politician who puts principle over party?

2. The fear of a “stabbed in the back” narrative. If you’re an establishment Republican, you probably believe that Trump is doomed, but that if you turn on him, Trump supporters will blame you for stabbing him in the back. Maybe you fear the rank-and-file will take their revenge or even just stay home in future elections. But this is nonsense. If Trump loses, his insane hardcore supporters are certain to blame anybody but Trump, and especially that amorphous beast known as “the establishment.” Meanwhile, if you want Trump voters to vote Republican, maybe a good idea is, instead of tricking them, propose policies and ideas that support their interests? Crazy, I know.

3. Trump himself. Maybe you’re afraid he’ll call you names and try to get back at you in some way. I get why that’s tough. But you have to look at the other side of the ledger.

Endorsing Trump means having to defend every ridiculous thing that comes out of his mouth. Including ordering the military to commit war crimes. Including maybe nuking people just because he feels like it. Including playing footsie with the KKK. Including defaulting on the U.S. debt. All day, every day.

Maybe you think you can finesse it, by saying something like “I endorse him, but I don’t support everything he says.” Come on. Nobody will buy that. An endorsement is an endorsement. Everybody understands that not every Republican who endorsed Mitt Romney agreed with him about every issue (I certainly didn’t). The reason they didn’t ask those questions is because there were no issues where he deviated from the Republican norm too much, or indeed from the bounds of civilized discourse. As the proudly #NeverTrump Republican strategist Rick Wilson put it, when you endorse Trump, “you permanently inherit Trump’s problems without his invulnerability to them.”

Here’s the thing. Donald Trump will humiliate you. He can’t help it. He did it to Chris Christie. He did it to Ben Carson. (Remember that time Ben Carson defended Trump’s comparing him to a child molester?) He does it to his wives!

And here’s another aspect: You get absolutely nothing out of it. Donald Trump doesn’t need you; he has the nomination. And even if he did, it’s not like Mr. Art of the Deal ever respected a deal in his entire life. If he thinks he’ll need you, he might promise you a lot of things, but there’s no guarantee he’ll keep his end of the bargain. What’s the point of being appointed secretary of everything if you work for an insane maniac and will probably get booted out or will resign in disgrace and/or frustration after three months? But before we even get there, what’s the point of endorsing him in exchange of the secretary of everything position, when you know he promised that job to three other people before breakfast?

Meanwhile, you all but guarantee that whatever election you’re in next after Trump, every ad against you, in both the primary and the general, will feature Trump’s most outrageous statements next to your name and face. His liberal statements for the primary, and his xenophobic, pro-KKK comments for the general. Oh boy, doesn’t that sound great?

After Trump, the political winds he unleashed will not abate, but his personality and brand will remain toxic to everyone except 15 to 20 percent of the country. People who are too closely associated with that brand will suffer the consequences. And meanwhile those who did oppose Trump, and who represent the majority of the party, are putting names into a black book.

In other words, endorsing Trump is a proposition where you have nothing to win and everything to lose. And, hey, I’m not saying you should go full #NeverTrump if your district voted heavily for Trump. Just lay low for a while. Say that you can’t personally support either major party nominee and you’re not telling anybody what to do.

 

By: Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, The Week, May 17, 2016

May 22, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, GOP | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Donald The Dangerous”: Heartbreaking Prospect That America’s Next Commander In Chief May Be A Global Joke

Is there any scarier nightmare than President Donald J. Trump in a tense international crisis, indignant and impatient, with his sweaty finger on the nuclear trigger?

“Trump is a danger to our national security,” John B. Bellinger III, legal adviser to the State Department under President George W. Bush, bluntly warned.

Most of the discussion about Trump focuses on domestic policy. But checks and balances mean that there are limits to what a president can achieve domestically, while the Constitution gives a commander in chief a much freer hand abroad.

That’s what horrifies America-watchers overseas. Der Spiegel, the German magazine, has called Trump the most dangerous man in the world. Even the leader of a Swedish nationalist party that started as a neo-Nazi white supremacist group has disavowed Trump. J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, reflected the views of many Britons when she tweeted that Trump is worse than Voldemort.

Leading American conservative thinkers on foreign policy issued an open letter a few days ago warning that they could not support Trump. The signatories include Michael Chertoff, the former secretary of homeland security, Robert Zoellick, the former deputy secretary of state, and more than 100 others.

“Mr. Trump’s own statements lead us to conclude that as president, he would use the authority of his office to act in ways that make America less safe,” the letter declared.

A starting point is Trump’s remarkable ignorance about international affairs. And every time he tries to reassure, he digs the hole deeper. Asked in the latest debate to name people whose foreign policy ideas he respects, Trump offered Gen. Jack Keane, and mispronounced his name.

Asked about Syria, Trump said last year that he would unleash ISIS to destroy Syria’s government. That is insane: ISIS is already murdering or enslaving Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities; executing gays; destroying antiquities; oppressing women. And Trump wants ISIS to capture Damascus?

A second major concern is that Trump would start a trade war, or a real war. Trump told The New York Times in January that he favored a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods, then denied ever having said such a thing. The Times produced the audio (that part of the conversation was on the record) in which Trump clearly backed the 45 percent tariff, risking a trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

Trump has also called for more U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq, and raised the prospect of bombing North Korean nuclear sites. A poorly informed, impatient and pugnacious leader can cause devastation, and that’s true of either Kim Jong-un or Donald Trump.

The third risk is to America’s reputation and soft power. Both Bush and President Obama worked hard to reassure the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims that the U.S. is not at war with Islam. Trump has pretty much declared war on all Muslims.

The damage to America’s image is already done, even if Trump is never elected. Simply as a blowhard who gains headlines around the world, he reinforces caricatures of the United States and tarnishes our global reputation. He turns America into an object of derision. He is America’s Ahmadinejad.

On Twitter, I suggested that Trump was pugnacious, pugilistic, preening and puerile, and asked for other P words to describe him. The result was a deluge: petulant, pandering, pathetic, peevish, prickly, pernicious, patronizing, Pantagruelian, prevaricating, phony, presumptuous, potty-mouthed, provocative, pompous, predatory and so many more, including the troubling “probably president.”

There’s something heartbreaking about the prospect that America’s next commander in chief may be a global joke, a man regarded in most foreign capitals as a buffoon, and a dangerous one.

Trump is not particularly ideological, and it’s possible that as president he would surround himself with experts and would back off extreme positions. It was a good sign that on Friday he appeared to reverse himself and pledged that he would not order the U.S. military to commit war crimes, yet that’s such an astonishingly low bar that I can’t believe I just wrote this sentence!

In any case, Trump is nothing if not unpredictable, and it seems equally plausible that he would start new wars. It’s a risk that few sensible people want to take. As Mitt Romney notes, “This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.”

Peter Feaver, a Duke University political scientist who was a national security official in the Bush White House, noted that most Republicans are united in believing that President Obama and Hillary Clinton have damaged the United States and added to the burdens of the next president.

“Yet what Trump promises to do would in some important ways make all of the problems we face dramatically worse,” he told me. “Why, at a moment when the country desperately needs our A-team, would we send in the clowns?”

 

By: Nicholas Kristof, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, March 5, 2016

March 7, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Foreign Policy, National Security | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted, Yoga And Manhood”: The Debate That Made America Dumber

Thursday’s Republican presidential debate made us all dumber.

It was a disgrace. As people wake up in capitals around the world Friday morning, in London and Addis Ababa and Riyadh and Beijing and Seoul, newscasters will be forced to find a way to discuss, in their local euphemisms, Donald Trump’s dick size.

The exchanges on the stage at the Fox Theater in Motown centered around erstwhile reality television star Donald Trump, who found, as usual, a way to be even more outrageous than he has been in previous debates.

Sen. Marco Rubio—a 44-year-old U.S. senator! A grown man! With children!—had made fun of Trump’s hand size, implying that his manhood was not so large.

“I have to say this. He hit my hands. Nobody has ever hit my hands. I have never heard of this. Look at those hands. Are they small hands?” Trump responded, on a nationally televised debate to become leader of the free world.

“And he referred to my hands, if they are small, something else must be small,” Trump deadpanned. “I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee you.”

There was shouting inside the debate hall and out. As a light snow fell on Woodward Avenue across from Ford Field, progressive protesters growled about their issues of the day: their objections to “racist” Trump; their demand for a higher minimum wage; calls for an immediate solution for the lead-poisoned people of Flint.

But the shouting and chanting was statesmanlike compared to the childish theatrics indoors. You could practically hear your brain cells crying out in pain as they died out, answer after answer.

There were insults, and Donald Trump defending war crimes, and Cruz treating the businessman like a small child. Trump called Rubio “little Marco,” and Cruz “lyin’ Ted.”

It was beyond satire. The first question, to Trump, was about former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who had delivered a scathing speech challenging Trump’s fitness to become president.

“He challenged you to answer with substance, not insults. How do you answer Mitt Romney, sir?” asked Fox News moderator Chris Wallace.

“He was a failed candidate,” Trump shot back. “He failed miserably, and it was an embarrassment to everybody.”

When Rubio challenged Trump on whether he’d answer a policy question substantively, the businessman responded like an adolescent: “Don’t worry about it, little Marco.” Rubio fired back: “Let’s hear big Donald.”

It was like a kindergarten brawl: a lot of cheap insults, a lot of whining, culminating with the need for everyone to have a time out. Sen. Ted Cruz—a 45-year-old U.S. senator! A grown man! With children!—treated Trump much like he would his two young daughters.

When Trump tried to interrupt him during an answer, Cruz responded patronizingly, “Donald, learn not to interrupt. It’s not complicated—Count to 10. Count to 10.”

“Yelling and cursing people doesn’t make you a tough guy,” Cruz said, as if lecturing an infant on the playground.

Meanwhile Trump one-upped everyone by defending torture, and insisting that the military would follow through with illegal orders if he gave them. Trump had previously said that his national security policy would involve targeting the innocent family members of terrorists and the use of interrogation methods even more extreme than waterboarding.

“They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me,” Trump said. “We should go for waterboarding… and tougher than waterboarding… I’m a leader, I’ve always been a leader… if I say do it, they’re going to do it.”

And on targeting the family members of terrorists, a potential war crime? “I have no problem with it,” Trump said.

The businessman struggled to square these authoritarian instincts with one of his key selling points: that he’d be the man who could make a deal with Congress, with China, with Vladimir Putin. He has a “strong core” that is also “flexible,” he said.

“You can breathe,” Cruz told Trump, during yet another shouting match. “I know it’s hard.”

“When they’re done with the yoga, can I answer a question?” Rubio butted in.

“I really hope we don’t see yoga on this stage,” Cruz responded.

“Well he’s really flexible, so you never know,” Rubio quipped.

On a day that former governor Romney gave a speech in Utah decrying Trump’s excesses, the dumbest presidential debate of all time took place. It must have made much of the American public yearn for a less stupid time—when the biggest controversy of the day was Romney’s car elevator and awkward word choices. How quaint that all was.

 

By: Tim Mak, The Daily Beast, March 4, 2016

March 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Weakness Of President Trump”: Trump Would Be Beyond Embarrassing For The United States On The World Stage

This is happening, America.

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald J. Trump—a man who has never held elected office—swept the Super Tuesday primaries last night, dominating seven of eleven contests. His authoritarian-enamored supporters remain inexorably drawn more than anything else to the candidate’s presumed strength.

That strength is supposedly a massive correction to the perceived weakness and fecklessness of President Obama on the world stage. The globe may be on fire, but it will fall in line—if only the American president would be more pugnacious and demanding towards allies and adversaries alike. In this view, Trump’s force of personality is a panacea; his self-fulfilling assurances about his own intelligence, likability, and winning record cease to be a means to policy and become the policies in and of themselves.

But what if Trump’s supporters aren’t just wrong (they are), but catastrophically so? What if that so-called strength—the forwardness, unapologetic aggression, and of course the distaste for “political correctness”—that they so love about candidate Trump turns out to be a debilitating weakness for President Trump and, by extension, our country?

Imagine, for a moment, how President Trump would actually function on the world stage.

Imagine President Trump listening to speeches at the United Nations General Assembly. Say another foreign leader bruises his ego, perhaps with a well-intentioned joke or a purposefully mocking barb. President Trump will not be able to sue, so where will he turn next? From denouncing the leader with juvenile insults to espousing racist sentiments on the world stage, the consequences are sure to be embarrassing.

Imagine President Trump’s childish demands falling on deaf ears in the international community. Suppose Mexico refuses to pay for his luxurious wall, or that allies like Japan and Germany decline to pay tribute for hosting U.S. military bases on their soil. President Trump will not be able to bend them to his will through endless bloviating, so what will become of American credibility? From the alienation of longtime U.S. allies to a full-scale evaporation of U.S. soft power, the consequences are sure to be crippling.

Imagine President Trump in top national security briefings, surrounded by patriotic men and women trying desperately to educate and advise him on the nuances of U.S. foreign policy. If he makes good on his campaign promises, he’ll be ordering them to pursue catastrophic escalations with rival states or execute war crimes against civilians and combatants alike. President Trump will not be able to force them to abide by his un-American dictates, so what will happen to our nation’s civil workforce? Whether we see mass resignations or a full-scale revolt by the people who spend their professional lives working to keep us safe, the consequences are sure to be disastrous.

There are plenty of policy-oriented reasons to decry the prospect of Trump as commander-in-chief—he has a childlike understanding of the world around him, including an astounding ignorance of the details about our enemies, the value of our allies, and the capabilities of our own country. There are obviously moral arguments against him too, among them his unabashed support of torture and his coziness towards any dictator that bats his eyes in Trump’s direction. But perhaps more than anything else, it is Trump’s temperament that disqualifies him from leadership: The “strength” he loves to flex to raucous applause would leave the United States weaker, isolated, and sapped of all credibility.

Trump would be beyond embarrassing for the United States on the world stage. His gaffes, infantilism, and self-assured ignorance would, intentionally or not, systematically destroy our reputation as a world leader, taking down the international order that the greatest generation raised from the ashes of World War II along the way. Trump’s unpredictable and fragile ego — the ego of a man who sends rebuttals to his “losers and haters” signed, literally, in gold sharpie—would become the proxy for how the United States is perceived in the world.

Since 1990, Trump has bemoaned that America is “laughed at” around the world. It is an emotional sentiment that resonates well with his base, but the joke is on them. Should President Trump make his way to the Oval Office, there is little doubt the world will be laughing even harder.

 

By: Graham F. West, The National Memo, March 3, 2016

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Foreign Policy, National Security | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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