Donald Trump gave his first foreign-policy speech on Wednesday, attacking President Obama and Hillary Clinton for their “reckless, rudderless and aimless” strategies while vowing, if elected, to take a more restrained, non-interventionist approach....Hmmm -- I could have sworn that somewhere along the line I read one or two New York Post articles praising the ultimate wannabe nation-builder, George W. Bush. Is this a faulty memory?
Setting up a November showdown with Clinton — who is more hawkish than Obama — Trump sought to portray himself as a disciplined leader who would steer clear of nation-building at the expense of US interests.
He pledged his presidency would focus on “regional stability -- not radical change” -- in the Middle East.So we're basically comfy with all the regimes in the Middle East now? I wish the right would include us on these memos.
The Breitbart piece is even more shockingly non-bloodthirsty:
[Trump's] ideas were cheering to a younger generation, weary of the endless wars-for-democracy of the Bush 43 administration, as well as the foolishly sovereignty-smiting policies of the Clinton and Obama administrations....And apparently Nixon and Kissinger are cool again on the rabid right:
In his 38-minute address, Trump got right down to it: “It’s time to shake the rust off America’s foreign policy. It’s time to invite new voices and new visions into the fold, something we have to do.”
That is, indeed, the sort of new broom that the voters have been looking for; it has animated not only the Trump campaign but also, we can observe, the Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) campaign.
Trump’s speech today to the Center for the National Interest (CFTNI), an old-line “realist” think tank in DC, was well received. CFTNI was once known as the Nixon Center, as in, the 37th president, and it still includes on its board such legendary Nixon foreign-policy hands as Henry Kissinger.To angry rightists, that, apparently, is now a good thing.
Not surprisingly, Trump’s hard-nosed policy ideas were a tonic to grizzled Nixonian realpolitikers.
I suppose Trump is trying to do what Nixon did in 1968. Like Nixon, he wants to portray the Democratic Party as a party of weakness while simultaneously attacking unpopular Democratic foreign policy interventions from the left. The result seems as insincere as Nixon's 1968 claim of a secret plan to end the Vietnam War -- but maybe centrists and the generally war-weary will hear what they want to hear in Trump's message, while voters with bloodlust focus on the calls for torture and the claim (also heard in this speech) that ISIS will be swiftly and brutally eradicated ("they’re going to be gone. And soon").
You see the doubletalk in Trump's appearance this morning on the Today show: He might nuke ISIS, he says, but in the nicest possible way:
"I don't want to rule out anything. I will be the last to use nuclear weapons," the Republican presidential front-runner told NBC's "Today" at the end of a telephone interview. "It's a horror to use nuclear weapons. The power of weaponry today is the single greatest problem that our world has. It's not global warming, like our president said. It's the power of weapons, in particular nuclear."Yeah, he might nuke 'em, but the idea horrifies him:
Trump continued, "I will be the last to use it. I will not be a happy trigger like some people might be."
"I will be the last," he said. "But I will never, ever rule it out."
Is this going to be enough red meat for the angry Trumpers? Is it too much red meat for swing voters -- or maybe not enough? Are Bernie-or-Bust thinkpiece writers at Salon going to start telling us that Trump is the war skeptic who'll take up the Sanders banner against Hillary D. Ripper? We'll see.