A Very Foreign, Foreign Policy
Dear Mr. Trump,
Your recent speech on foreign policy, possibly the most comprehensive to date, reveals quite a bit. In principle, I do agree with some of your general points about what our approach to foreign policy should be. However in practice you seem quite out of touch with reality, and what really causes some of the most critical problems we face. Since you divide your speech into two separate sections (i.e. “what’s wrong” and “how I will fix it”), that is how I will respond.
I. FIVE MAIN WEAKNESSES IN FOREIGN POLICY
The connection you draw between a weakened military and a weakened economy is lost on me, since development of our military hardly relies on free market principles. I also am confused about your assertion that President Obama has presided over an increase in debt and waste, which seems to be in dispute by experts.
One of the messages you have remained most consistent on is your disdain for the Iran Nuclear Deal. And here again we see you point out that President Obama “...negotiated a disastrous deal, then we watched them ignore its terms, even before the ink was dry.” Not only have you demonstrated a lack of understanding for the larger context of Iran’s relationship with the world, I haven’t heard anything about what you would specifically change in the deal. Simply saying “under a Trump administration they would not have a nuclear weapon” does not offer improvement. Any violations of the deal by Iran are news to me, and I’m sure they would come as news to the UN and the P5+1 as well.
And speaking of the P5+1, you also don’t seem to grasp that the Iran deal was not simply the US sitting across the table from the Iranians. There were allied nations involved in the negotiation of the treaty, and walking away would only have served to fuel what you outline as your third pillar--our friends are beginning to think they can’t depend on us. That the nuclear deal made Iran a “great power in the Middle East” is a statement born out of complete ignorance. I would encourage you to read up on the history of Iran since World War II, and maybe the region in general so you can try to grasp the larger issues at play.
It’s painfully obvious from hearing you describe Israel as a “force for justice and peace” that you haven’t done your research there, either. For starters, Israel excludes Palestinians from the political process so by definition they cannot be a democracy.
I’m not exactly sure who you are referring to when you say “our rivals”. Saudi Arabia has been a close ally of the United States throughout the war on terror, and diplomatic relations were just restored with Cuba after fifty years of isolation. The president’s trip to Denmark (a member of NATO) was to persuade the Olympic Committee on their choice. As far as I know the Olympic Committee has no military power so I’d love to know how exactly they could even be considered a “rival”.
I realize you are trying to do you best to pin the issues we face abroad solely on the policies of Barack Obama & Hillary Clinton, but we both know they make up the tail end of this post Cold War period you mention. Probably one of the few areas we agree on is that US interventions have only deteriorated conditions in the Middle East and North Africa. However you must realize that it wasn’t only the actions of President Obama that has lead the creation of ISIS, or the spread of radical Islam. I won’t get my hopes up.
Many refute your claim that ISIS is making a fortune on Libyan oil.
II. GOALS OF A TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S FOREIGN POLICY
Halting the spread of radical Islam:
As far as domestic extremism is concerned, neither San Bernadino nor Orlando was perpetrated by radicalized Muslim immigrants. You may be right to question the screening process, but a pause on Muslim immigration prima facie violates the Fourteenth Amendment. As Aziz Ansari points out, over half the mass shootings since 9/11 in the US have been carried out by white males. If we follow your logic to its conclusion, there should be an immediate pause on white male immigration before the next Sandy Hook, or worse.
Rebuilding our military:
The word “rebuild” implies that our military is somehow devastated or destroyed, which is completely ludicrous. It’s obvious you haven’t done your research on the context of our military budget, and particularly our strategic budget.
Though you correctly point out only five NATO countries are spending over 2% of their GDP on defense, a target number of the organization, this is classic manipulation of figures. When looking at the actual numbers, the US far outspends any other country even if they all met the 2% benchmark. Even a 4% benchmark would leave America way in the lead. It appears you’ve already made up your mind to rebuild our military, regardless of the spending habits of other NATO members, so why even make this an issue?
It’s funny you mention we are asking our generals to worry about climate change. Again if you had done your research, you would have found they are actually the ones asking us.
I don’t think anyone will expect an apology for “becoming successful again”, nor can I remember a time where such an apology has been necessary, so that one is a little lost on me.
You can rant all you want about how we have less planes and troops and ships. We also have less muskets and cannons. A decrease in numbers doesn’t mean a decrease in power.
Developing a foreign policy based on America’s interests
That Iran was the biggest beneficiary of the Iraq war is probably the most ridiculous statement in this whole speech. They have made territorial probes into Iraq, to be sure. For example, they alone came to the aid of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters defending their homes from Islamic State militants in Northern Iraq. Everyone knows the biggest beneficiary of the Iraq war was ISIS, born out of the intense sectarian violence ignited by the US invasion.
I love the sentence where you say you won’t surround yourself “with those who have perfect resumes but very little to brag about except responsibility for a long history of failed policies and continued losses at war.” When you were picking your running mate, did you at all think about this? Did you know that Mike Pence voted to invade Iraq? Or that he was a champion of NAFTA, something you have also bitterly criticized? Is this not the textbook example of a person you describe as not wanting to surround yourself with? I can only hope you put more thought into your other cabinet selections, if it comes to that.
I hope, if you’re serious about being Commander in Chief, that you bring yourself up to speed on the major foreign policy issues that America will deal with in the next eight years. I also hope you familiarize yourself with international law and the Constitution. So far, I am unimpressed.