The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

America First

David Sanger and Maggie Haberman present a reasonably detailed assessment of Donald Trump's foreign Policy views in a New York Times article entitled "In Donald Trump’s Worldview, America Comes First, and Everybody Else Pays." Given the NYT's left-wing editorial slant, the article has a critical tinge, but overall, it's a fair assessment of Trump's positions that can best be summarized with a direct quote:
“We will not be ripped off anymore. We’re going to be friendly with everybody, but we’re not going to be taken advantage of by anybody.”
Sanger and Haberman write:
Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential front-runner, said that if elected, he might halt purchases of oil from Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies unless they commit ground troops to the fight against the Islamic State or “substantially reimburse” the United States for combating the militant group, which threatens their stability.

“If Saudi Arabia was without the cloak of American protection,” Mr. Trump said during a 100-minute interview on foreign policy, spread over two phone calls on Friday, “I don’t think it would be around.”

He also said he would be open to allowing Japan and South Korea to build their own nuclear arsenals rather than depend on the American nuclear umbrella for their protection against North Korea and China. If the United States “keeps on its path, its current path of weakness, they’re going to want to have that anyway, with or without me discussing it,” Mr. Trump said.

And he said he would be willing to withdraw United States forces from both Japan and South Korea if they did not substantially increase their contributions to the costs of housing and feeding those troops. “Not happily, but the answer is yes,” he said.

Mr. Trump also said he would seek to renegotiate many fundamental treaties with American allies, possibly including a 56-year-old security pact with Japan, which he described as one-sided.

In Mr. Trump’s worldview, the United States has become a diluted power, and the main mechanism by which he would re-establish its central role in the world is economic bargaining. He approached almost every current international conflict through the prism of a negotiation ...
Like many Americans, I have grave reservations about Donald Trump, but as time passes, it begins to appear that he is considerably less "extreme" in his foreign policy views than say, Bernie Sanders, who can't seem to get past his obsession with millionaires, billionaires and income inequality/redistribution to enunciate a cohesive foreign policy that is anything less than appeasement.

Trump's views are considerably less ridiculous than Hillary Clinton's pronouncement (with sufficiently grave intonation, of course) that her "years of experience" would allow her to ... what? Create more failed states like Libya, or put into motion the events that spawned ISIS, or negotiate more outstanding "deals" like the debacle the U.S. entered into with Iran?

The elites in the salons of New York, Washington and Los Angeles titter when a Neanderthal like Trump suggests that maybe we ought to emphasize "America First." After all, in the worldview of the elites, that's so un-PC, so anti-diverse, so un-Obama like.

And yet, to the ear of tens of millions of Americans (including millions of blue collar Democrats) there's something oddly attractive and refreshing about that simple sentiment—"America First."

For the past 50 years we've allowed the creme de la creme of the elites—the best and brightest—define our foreign policy. And where has it led? Just look at the Middle East, or the Russian incursion in Eastern Europe, or the slow motion Muslim invasion of Europe, or the worldwide Islamic terror attacks, or the Chinese moves in the South China Sea, or the chaos in North Africa or the resurgence of failed socialist doctrine in South America. That's your answer.

Donald Trump may not be the right man for president. He may not even get the GOP nomination, but regardless, a wonderful debate question during the general election might go something like this: "Would you agree with the sentiment that the president MUST put American first, and if so, exactly how would you translate that into specific foreign policy positions?"

Donald Trump provided specific answers in his NYT interview. I suspect that the GOP candidate, whoever that might be, would have answers that might be a bit more nuanced but that would still parallel Trump's. I can only wonder what Hillary or Bernie might say.