The tail will be wagging the dog under Donald Trump
December 27, 2016
While the presidential campaign was still in progress it was possible to think that there might be some positive change in America’s broken foreign policy. Hillary Clinton was clearly the candidate of Washington Establishment hawkishness, while Donald Trump was declaring his disinclination for democracy and nation building overseas as well as promoting détente with Russia. Those of us who considered the foreign policy debacle to be the most dangerous issue confronting the country, particularly as it was also fueling domestic tyranny, tended to vote on the basis of that one issue in favor of Trump.
On December 1st in Cincinnati, president-elect Donald Trump made some interesting comments about his post-electoral foreign policy plans. There were a lot of good things in it, including his citing of $6 trillion “wasted” in Mideast fights when “our goal is stability not chaos.” And as for dealing with real enemies, he promised to “partner with any nation that is willing to join us in the effort to defeat ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism…” He called it a “new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past” adding that “We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments, folks.”
Regarding the apparent inability of governments to thoroughly check out new immigrants prior to letting them inside the country, demonstrated most recently in Nice, Ohio and Berlin, Trump described how “People are pouring in from regions of the Middle East — we have no idea who they are, where they come from what they are thinking and we are going to stop that dead cold. … These are stupid refugee programs created by stupid politicians.” Exaggerated? For sure, but he has a point, and it all is part and parcel of a foreign policy that serves no actual interest for people who already live in the United States.
But, as so often with Trump, there was also the flip side. On the looney fringe of the foreign and national security policy agenda, the president-elect oddly believes that “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” So to reduce the number of nukes we have to create more of them and put them in more places. Pouring gasoline on a raging fire would be an appropriate analogy and it certainly leads to questions regarding who is advising The Donald with this kind of nonsense.
Trump has promised to “put America first,” but there is inevitably a spanner in the works. Now, with the New Year only six days away and the presidential inauguration coming less than three weeks after that, it is possible to discern that the new foreign policy will, more than under Barack Obama and George W. Bush, be driven in significant part by Israeli interests.