Today Donald Trump gave a speech in which he laid out his foreign policy plan for if/when he becomes president. You can find a transcript of it on his website easily enough – I recommend you read it and interpret it for yourself.
I will tell you this, though: He’s good about telling us what his goals are. He sucks at telling us how he’s going to achieve those goals. In this, he is the consummate politician. He seeks to soothe us with one hand, stroke us with the other and seeks to quiet us with his placations and platitudes. In reality, he’s no better (or worse) than any of the other people vying for the highest elected office in this country.
I found I actually agreed with him on some things he said, but it’s hard not to. He speaks in such broad generalities that it’s basically impossible not to agree with him sometimes.
Anyway, on with my take on his speech.
America First: bad news for our allies who don’t do exactly what we say.
We saved the world (in the 1940s): Nevermind the British or Russians, I guess, who apparently barely showed up. I said it would take him 8 minutes to say something that offended Americans. He beat me by a long shot by implying that only the USA had anything to do with the victory in WW2. 451,000 UK citizens died in WW2, about 1% of their population at the time. While nearly 420,000 US citizens died in the same war, proportionally speaking the UK death rate (per capita) was three times that of the US. I’m not from the UK, but if I was, I’d be pretty pissed at this snub… not to mention the years-long bombing and guided missile campaign the Germans waged against England’s cities.
Mistakes in the Middle East, the region is in chaos: Yes, true. Tough to blame it all on the USA, though.
Spreading democracy: Agreed, not every culture or nation needs, wants or can handle democracy.
Our resources are overextended: agreed.
“I am the only person running for the presidency who understands this problem and knows how to fix it.” 1) Bullshit. 2) So what are the solutions? It’s not enough to just identify the problems, you have to give us a path to success. This is typical Trump; he identifies a problem, then comes up with a ludicrous solution (build a wall! Mexicans will pay for it!) or no solution at all.
Our allies are not paying their fare share: agreed, partially. Many of our allies lack the economic power to pay the bills that we say they should be paying.
“The whole world will be safer if our allies do their part.” Agreed.
Our friends think they can’t depend on us: pretty much just a bunch of Obama-bashing, the usual anti-Iran deal rhetoric used by the right. He might be right, but it’s in no way his idea, and again, he gives no solutions.
Obama is anti-Israel: possibly, but just because Obama hasn’t spent his administration kissing Israel’s ass doesn’t mean he’s anti-Israel.
Our rivals no longer respect us: Who cares if they respect us as long as they fear us? More Obama bashing that does nothing to offer solutions, only highlights problems.
The USA has no clear understanding of its foreign policy goals: probably, but the USA is a selfish, corrupt nation, so why should it? Obama and Clinton bashing – the identification of problems, but again, no solutions.
“This will change when I am president.” I ask – how?
“America is going to be strong again.”
“America is going to be a reliable friend and ally again.”
“We are getting out of the nation-building business.” – the closest thing he says that’s any kind of solution, but he doesn’t say how we’re going to do this.
Ah, now we’re getting to his plans for the future.
“We need a long-term plan to halt the spread and reach of radical Islam.”
Yes, “we” do. The world does. Other than ending the importation of “extremism through senseless immigration policies,” he has no solutions – and he doesn’t say what his immigration policies will be except for previous statements about refusing entry to all Muslims.
“I have a simple message for [ISIS]. Their days are numbered. I won’t tell them where and I won’t tell them how.” Sounds like a good plan.
“We have to rebuild our military and our economy.”
Name-checks Russia, China, nuclear weapons, the Navy and the Air Force – but, other than blaming Obama for all our problems yet again, he gives no solutions beyond “we will spend what we need to rebuild our military.” None.
He wants to put Americans first and thus rebuild our economy. Great idea, he gives no plans as to how he’ll do that.
“We must develop a foreign policy based on American interests.”
Sure! Let’s do that!
Goals: base foreign policy on our core national security interests, defeat terrorists, promote stability in the Middle East, be generous only to our friends, live peacefully with China and Russia as long as it’s done from a position of strength.
I FOUND A SOLID PLAN OF HIS TO FIX SOMETHING: “After I am elected president, I will also call for a summit with our NATO allies, and a separate summit with our Asian allies. We will not only discuss a rebalancing of financial commitments, but take a fresh look at how we can adopt new strategies.”
Not much of a plan – more talking – but at least it’s something concrete.
More dick-waving: “If America fights, it must fight to win.”
“Our goal is peace and prosperity, not war and destruction.” Good idea, but this is not how Trump has approached his campaign, which has been all about war and destruction. Not to mention that he gives no solutions or path to achieving this goal.
More dick-waving: “If I draw a line in the sand, I will enforce it.”
“That is why I will also look for talented experts with new approaches, and practical ideas.” Because that’s what he’s known for, relying on other people with ideas that aren’t in lock-step with his own.
The rest of it is a lot of flag- and dick-waving designed to appeal to the self-identified marginalized majority, with nationalistic goals but no solutions or plans or even hints of plans.
In other words, a typical bullshit politician spewing typical politician bullshit. It’s all hot air. Sound and fury signifying nothing other than he promises us he can play with the big boys and walk away from negotiations that aren’t going his way.