On foreign policy, he's probably the most bellicose guy in the race. And because he's so popular, it really might be Trump and not, say, Lindsey Graham or Rick Santorum who pushes the entire field, including the eventual GOP nominee, extremely far to the right.
I know the Republican National Committee wanted to limit the number of debates in the 2016 campaign in order to minimize the number of opportunities that unelectable candidates would have to create litmus tests for more electable candidates. But I think it's only going to take one or two debates for Trump to make his foreign policy view the minimal acceptable position for the entire candidate field.
What is Trump's position? Well, you try to figure it out. All I can tell is that he wants to kill 'em all, whoever they are -- and I do mean all -- and take their oil:
Host Steve Doocy asked Trump about his plans to deal with ISIS. But whether he was confused or misspoke, Trump started talking about Iran. “Iran is taking over Iraq 100%, just like I predicted years ago,” he said. “I say this, I didn’t want to go there in the first place. Now we take the oil.”So when he's asked about ISIS, he threatens Iran (or ISIS -- I assume ISIS is the subject of that Internet reference, given the group's social media prowess; I'm not sure he knows there's a difference). Then, as you'll see in this clip, he pivots to Saudi Arabia, and implies that he might wage war on the Saudis.
“We should have kept the oil,” Trump continued. “Now we go in, we knock the hell out of them, take the oil, we thereby take their wealth. They have so much money.”
“They have better internet connections than we do in the United States,” he complained. “They’re training our kids through the internet. We have to knock out their wealth.”
"The other thing, through Saudi Arabia, Steve, through Saudi Arabia and other places, tremendous money's flowing in. We have to stop that flow of money. But take the oil, knock the hell out of 'em."Do you think any Republican candidate, at any debate, could say anything that would get a greater round of applause than this? The cheers will go on for several minutes. It will be next to impossible to silence the crowd. Within 48 hours there'll be "Knock the Hell Out of Them and Take Their Oil" T-shirts, and they'll be huge sellers. And this from the guy who still says -- in the clip, in fact -- that he opposed the Iraq War.
He's going to be the guy who makes multiple full-scale wars in the Middle East the minimal acceptable position for Jeb Bush, or whoever the eventual nominee is -- none of the intermediate steps the other candidates have proposed will be acceptable. No wussy increased aid to foreign fighters. None of this mamby-pamby talk about merely tightening the sanction screws on Iran. Oh, and no more coddling Saudi Arabia, either, I guess. "Kill 'em all" might really be the policy the eventually nominee will have to take into the general election, the way "deport 'em all" usually is on immigration.
That's if Trump is ever asked about foreign policy in a debate. Fortunately for the GOP, debate moderators are unlikely to ask him about anything except his approach to campaigning and the skeletons in his closet. But if he ever gets this question, watch out, because if he, the most popular candidate in the race right now, says there should be limitless war, then serious aspirants will express a relative degree of caution at their political peril.
Though I should add that, given the American public's habitual amnesia with regard to the failures of the War Party (we let the GOP take over Congress two years after rejecting a presidential candidate who was clearly running for Bush's third term), and given Democrats' habitual incompetence at selling policies of moderation (the White House is getting clobbered right now in the public opinion war over the Iran deal), I'm not sure that a "total war everywhere" policy would even be a political liability in November 2016. We'll find out, I guess.