Monday, February 29, 2016

What President Trump would do to America

Trump will do nothing for America.

Michael Gerson in today's Daily Star explains how Trump's foreign policy as expressed in 140-word tweets marks Trump as "clueless."

Here are snippets.

It is difficult to discern a foreign policy in Trump’s oeuvre of rambling, extemporaneous speechmaking and Twitter pronouncements. He usually communicates without a hint of actual argument. But there is some consistency to his various statements.

Basically the theory seems to be that we should disparage our allies (Mexico, South Korea) and support our competitors and potential enemies (Putin). Gerson cites examples. For instance: "America should focus on killing terrorists as well as targeting their families for murder, apparently on the theory that war crimes are a demonstration of super-duper toughness."

As Trump’s political prospects have improved, we are required to give these foreign policy views more serious analysis, which is more than Trump himself has done. When pressed on such issues in debates and interviews, he is utterly incoherent. And it feels like we have, so far, explored only the fringes of his ignorance.

But it is the theory behind Trump’s threats that is particularly dangerous. He is not an isolationist, in the Rand Paul sense. He is more of a Jacksonian (in Walter Russell Mead’s typology) — preferring a strong America that is occasionally roused to kill its enemies but then returns home and avoids entangling international commitments.

... Trump would be a president who could not tell America’s enemies from its friends. He contemplates actions like weakening security assurances to South Korea that might invite war (recall the outcome in 1950 of Secretary of State Dean Acheson’s implication that South Korea was outside America’s “defensive perimeter”). Trump promises actions — like forcing the Mexico to fund the great wall of Trump — that are, in the formal language of international relations, loony, unhinged, bonkers. His move to impose massive tariffs against China would earn derisive laughter at the World Trade Organization. If he persisted, it might blow up the global trading order and dramatically increase tensions in Asia.

Trump’s version of American nationalism without reference to American principles is Putinism by another name. And it is one more way that Trump would sully the spirit of the nation.

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