Monday, July 18, 2016

Trump’s Foreign Policy

After the unfortunate choice of Mike Pence as his running mate it was nice to find this interview of Trump’s foreign policy advisor, Mike Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). 

While not Ron Paulian, Flynn (to the extent he is to be believed and to the extent he represents Trump’s views) offers a few statements that would never come out of Clinton’s mouth.  Unfortunately, for the most part there is little meat on the bones of these statements.

Regarding Trump’s statements on NATO and US military leadership around the world:

[Trump] has no intention to step away without examining all relationships that we have. …I would say that NATO as a political alliance does need to be relooked at in terms of everything -- resourcing, capabilities.

We have to look at the cost of resourcing the US military around the world.  …The Chinese get over 40 percent of their oil from the Middle East through the Persian Gulf, but have you ever seen a Chinese aircraft carrier sitting inside the Persian Gulf?

Flynn makes many similar statements in the interview.  The only issue for Trump about NATO and US global intervention seems to be one of who will pay for it; a good conservative position, but not necessarily beneficial toward reducing conflict. 

If Trump can’t get others to pay, does this mean he will support less foreign interventionism?  Because for sure others will not be able to pay.

…the United States should not have to intervene in every single problem around the world. The voters of this country are reacting in a very big, broad way to Mr. Trump.

“Should not have to intervene” does not really say much of anything about commitment.

Regarding Trump’s statement that Merkel was too soft during the refugee crisis…

I think all of Europe has been too soft on the refugee crisis. …But the point was the really incredibly poor decisions when it comes to allowing this unbelievable, unprecedented refugee crisis that's going on in Europe.

A great statement.

Why are these people rushing to the beauty and strength of Europe and to the United States and not rushing to their own capitals or the capitals of the Muslim world?

Because the enemy of the elite is the (nominally) Christian, white male.  Well, that, and the US (and some other Muslim countries) blew up their capitals in the Muslim world.

Regarding Trump’s “fascination for strong leaders like Vladimir Putin or Saddam Hussein”:

He respects people who are selfish about their country. Putin is a guy who is very selfish about Russia and about the Russian federation….

Nationalism and decentralization are growing in popularity throughout the west, and will continue to grow as the solutions offered by the centralizers continue to crumble.

Regarding Putin as a reliable partner:

Putin will be a reliable partner for certain things for the United States, yes. Absolutely. We need to have a relationship from the top to the bottom, same with China.

If the only good thing Trump does as president is to follow through on this and other similar statements about Russia and China (dialogue, let’s make a deal), he will be the best president since perhaps Reagan (for making nice with the USSR) or Nixon (for making nice with China).  Look, I already said Trump was no Ron Paul, what more do you want from me?

Flynn danced around answering the question regarding Trump’s call for Saudi Arabia and Japan to become nuclear powers.  I say the fewer the better on this topic.

Regarding Trump’s overall view on foreign policy:

Foreign policy is about US national security, it is definitely not non-intervention. It is definitely not isolationist. That's where people want to hear what they want to hear and not listen to what he says.

“…hear what they want to hear…”  I believe Flynn is referring to neocons who describe Trump as isolationist; unfortunately, he seems to be suggesting to them that they need not worry.  I don’t believe Flynn is referring to many of Trump’s supporters, who support him precisely because they believe Trump offers – if not non-intervention – at least much less intervention.

Regarding the legacy of Bush and Obama:

We're speaking about three incredibly stupid decisions. The first one was the invasion in Iraq. They said there was a nuclear weapons thing, but we were actually responding to the attack of 9/11. All of a sudden, somebody threw in this other, like, "Hey, maybe we can use this as an excuse."

This is a great statement.

Obama's decision to leave, to not sustain the victory that resulted after eight years of fighting, from 2003 to 2011 in Iraq, was another incredibly stupid decision. It was totally based on politics, not based on any notion of national security. It's a nightmare for our national security.

This is a terrible statement.

And then you have the Libya intervention.  …You look at Libya, and you go, "Jesus, why the hell did we do that?" That's beyond stupid. That's so irresponsible and dangerous for our national security and frankly for the national security of Europe…

This is another great statement.

Regarding America’s decades-long push for exporting democracy and human rights: “Will that come to an end if Trump becomes president?”

Yes, because it's wrong.

One last great statement.


A mixed bag, but compared to the disaster that Hillary will certainly bring to the world Trump (via Flynn) isn’t bad.  Again, I say nothing about how trustworthy he will be on any of the good statements – but at least he has some good statements.

In any case, now that Trump has chosen his VP candidate, none of this will likely matter: he will either lose the election (as even Trump does not seem to understand why he had such popular support) or he will have his own Reagan / Hinckley moment.


  1. "Nationalism and decentralization are growing in popularity throughout the west, and will continue to grow as the solutions offered by the centralizers continue to crumble."

    Not that I think you're conflating the two, but it's important to point out that nationalism is not for radical decentralization but only decentralization to the national level. Le Pen in France, for instance, wants to nationalize deposit banks and is opposed to privatizing public utilities and the postal service. Economically she is more protectionist than laissez-faire. To me nationalism in Europe is akin to federalism in the U.S., with European countries similar to U.S. states and the EU similar to the U.S. fed. That's why so many states' rights southerners (confederate flag wavers) are pro-Trump. They mistakenly believe that centralization on a small scale somehow won't lead to centralization on a large scale (similar to the minarchism fallacy). That's why nationalism will always be a mixed bag in terms of domestic and foreign policy. It's an emotional ideology rather than a principled one.

    1. Decentralization to a national level would be a dramatic political improvement over what we have today, regardless of the political-economic systems in the resultant decentralized entities.

      Nationalism, driven to its end, will result in far more and far smaller political units. Even Belgium would be split in two.

  2. A strong perhaps brutal despot is preferable to predatory anarchy under which a number of brutal opportunists battle for dominance (hopefully, Hillary has notice this in Libya). The missing attribute is nonaggression. Unfortunately nonaggressive leaders tend to be victims under such malignant anarchy.

    As has been discussed elsewhere a common civilized culture is perhaps the most important requirement. Unfortunately the Moslem world has been brutalized and coarsened. Thus the rather small sectarian differences have been amplified and subject to demagoguery.

    An appraisal of our efforts in the Moslem world seems to have no positives and an extensive list of failures accruing to the on-the-street Moslem. Maybe it’s time to come home.


  3. For anyone not yet a conspiracy theorist:
    Read about the relationship between the Hinckley and Bush families (especially just before the attack), then watch the "Manchurian Candidate". Hmmmmm. Life imitates art???

  4. "Nationalism and decentralization are growing in popularity throughout the west, and will continue to grow as the solutions offered by the centralizers continue to crumble."

    That was said when the Soviet bloc fell. Then US led aggression in the Middle East increased.

  5. As least Mike Pence isn't as likely to want to assassinate Trump as LBJ was JFK, Daddy Bush was Reagan, etc.

  6. "...or he will have his own Reagan / Hinckley moment."

    Or maybe, his own JFK "moment" , perhaps?

    In reality, neither "moments" are actually necessary, given the fact that Trump has a wife and kids.

    Presumably, his close family and its security has already been secretly penetrated, so that if he were to be elected there would already be reliable ways to definitively control any "objectionable" presidential moves he made.

    "You know it makes sense" :-).

    Regarding the analysis of Trumps various public foreign policy statements, for the life of me , I cannot understand why anyone here, including yourself, would ever seriously believe anything out of Trumps mouth, for, even if he were actually telling the truth about his purported "much less intervention" foreign policy intent [which is debatable], the historical record for past US presidents [e.g. 20th century ones ] who became president based [at least in part, one assumes], on "keeping the US out of foreign wars" etc. , is beyond abysmal. The chances of Trump being "the exception that proves the rule" are, to my jaded sensibilities, slim to none existent.

    Most likely, Trump, if elected, would do exactly as his "handlers" [Pentagon and "above"], required. That's just "the way the cookie crumbles", I'm afraid.

    Regards, onebornfree.

  7. This is not the time in a campaign to go around cheering non-interventionism. Trump could very easily alienate a large portion of his base by making it a major component of his very limited platform. Best to lightly touch on it, raise the question and move onto bigger, less significant issues for the MSM and masses to digest.