Thursday, April 28, 2016


Donald Trump gave a foreign policy speech yesterday that repeatedly contradicted itself and was generally incoherent. It was, of course, praised by such pro-Trump media outlets as Breitbart and the New York Post. The surprise -- at least for me, because I'm old enough to remember when conservatives were unabashed, chest-thumping warmongers and hated sandal-wearing dirty hippie peaceniks -- is that these publications praised Trump for realism and restraint.

The Post:
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....

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.
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?
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....

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.
And apparently Nixon and Kissinger are cool again on the rabid right:
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.

Not surprisingly, Trump’s hard-nosed policy ideas were a tonic to grizzled Nixonian realpolitikers.
To angry rightists, that, apparently, is now a good thing.

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."

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."
Yeah, he might nuke 'em, but the idea horrifies him:

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.


pbriggsiam said...

As a Sanders supporter, no, I don't think so. What a dumb question to paint the rest of us under. As if we have to prove you are right by being good little Democrats.

It is possible to find Clinton to be the wrong leader for our time. To find her thoroughly inauthentic. To despise her using the system for her and her family's benefit. To reject the meritocratic vision of America which has only led the Democratic Party to leave behind the middle class and working people.


To be able to vote for her in the General Election. Many of us are organizers that put a little more into our civic engagement than an every 4 year coronation of a "savior" that inevitably disappoints.

Is it possible for you to do nuance? Try and show a little respect to people like me who can walk and chew gum at the same time. Sheeesh.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Kissinger and Hillary are close, and her internationalism is more in tune with his realism than Trump's Buchananite, "America First," neo-isolationism.

Hillary and Hank both freaked at Trump's remarks about withdrawal from NATO, abandonment of Japan and South Korea, and backing out of the Middle East - except, of course, for destroying ISIS.

And nothing he has said about using nukes or abandoning non-proliferation has been anything but totally nuts.

That radicalism didn't show starkly in his "presidential" foreign policy speech, but I doubt Kissinger has any use for The Donald or his loony views.

oc democrat said...

My impression of Trump's foreign policy was that America could and Would be your Best Friend, as long as you kissed Trump's and America's
ass daily and Loudly about America being the greatest thing since that
Pagan symbol Jesus was created in the first century A.D.

Probably the wrong analogy, but it reminds me of Teddy carrying his
Big Stick during the early 20th century.

Victor said...

Donald tRUMP wouldn't know the Middle East, from Middle Earth.

He just opens his yap, and something comes out. And it's subject to change at a moment's notice!

Anyone who takes him seriously, is either a dupe, and imbecile, or both!
I'm looking at you, MSM!!!

KenRight said...

Vaihinger had me until he chose to depict "looney" Trump views
as unpreferable to the historic war criminality on a mass scale (see Chonsky or Raimondo) of his designated authority, Kissinger.

Grung_e_Gene said...

Smaug needs to pay us, the dwarves are going to pay for the wall, orcs are really, really nasty people, back in Aragorn's time we would have carried them out on stretchers.