Donald Trump has chosen his national security team, some of whom are said to be isolationist and anti-war. Trump’s team of foreign policy advisers, led by Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, consists of counter-terrorism expert Walid Phares, energy consultant George Papadopoulos, former Defense Department inspector general Joe Schmitz, managing partner of Global Energy Capital Carter Page and former Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg. Trump does not appear to have consulted with them as of yet and has said he “consults himself” on foreign policy. He has kept his comments very general when it comes to foreign policy. Today, in two published NY Times interviews conducted over the phone, he expanded on the nature of his policy which he sees as a third way – America First.
His foreign policy would represent a schism from the GOP on foreign policy and even with the Democrats.
Donald Trump is willing to reconsider alliances throughout the world if the members will not pay more towards defense. If Saudi Arabia isn’t nicer, we will pull out and stop buying their oil, Trump said, and we will drop NATO. All our allies have to pay more or we get out.
“So, I would say this, I would say at a minimum, we have to be reimbursed, substantially reimbursed, I mean, to a point that’s far greater than what we’re being paid right now. Because we’re not being reimbursed for the kind of tremendous service that we’re performing by protecting various countries. Now Saudi Arabia’s one of them…”
“…the question was asked of me a few days ago about NATO, and I said, well, I have two problems with NATO. No. 1, it’s obsolete. When NATO was formed many decades ago we were a different country. There was a different threat. Soviet Union was, the Soviet Union, not Russia, which was much bigger than Russia, as you know. And, it was certainly much more powerful than even today’s Russia, although again you go back into the weaponry. But, but – I said, I think NATO is obsolete, and I think that – because I don’t think – right now we don’t have somebody looking at terror, and we should be looking at terror…”
Redefining NATO is one thing but should we eliminate it and leave our allies prey to Russia that we know is an existential threat is another?
The alliance members do pay some money and they should pay more but let’s not forget that we want to be in Japan. We want to be in the Pacific region. Churchill said that the only thing worse than fighting with allies is fighting without allies. These alliances take many years to form and cannot be given short-shrift. We need their trust and if they believe we will abandon them when a new president is elected, that is problematic and what we’ve been dealing with for the last seven years.
Our allies do not do their fair share and they need to do more but when we enter alliances we do it because it’s in the interests of the US, it’s not an act of altruism. It can’t solely be based on the costs. It’s also how it is in our interests.
Alliances are complex beyond economic and are not only about bean counting. All benefits don’t flow in one direction. It’s about collective defense and mutual confidence, though it does include who pays for what.
Donald Trump suggested that countries like Japan become nuclear to defend themselves.
“…right now we’re protecting, we’re basically protecting Japan, and we are, every time North Korea raises its head, you know, we get calls from Japan and we get calls from everybody else, and “Do something.” And there’ll be a point at which we’re just not going to be able to do it anymore. Now, does that mean nuclear? It could mean nuclear.”
Should anyone else in the world get nuclear weapons? Is this a viable alternative? The US needs a strong policy on this but it’s not generally to encourage nuclear proliferation or refuse to denounce it. That would be a dramatic change.
When asked about the segment of Japanese society who want nuclear weapons and who have said, “Well, maybe we should have our own nuclear deterrent…”, Trump said:
“Well, it’s a position that we have to talk about, and it’s a position that at some point is something that we have to talk about, and 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, because I don’t think they feel very secure in what’s going on with our country, David.”
He was probed further:
“Um, at some point, we cannot be the policeman of the world. And unfortunately, we have a nuclear world now…”
Trump was asked about the growing cyberarsenal and using it as an alternative to nuclear. To interject, cyberwarfare can put whole countries back into the dark ages and destroy them economically. Nuclear weapons can’t be deployed without an electric grid.
Trump said this:
“I don’t see it as an alternative to nuclear in terms of, in terms of ultimate power. Look, in the perfect world everybody would agree that nuclear would, you know, be so destructive, and this was always the theory, or was certainly the theory of many…”
When asked how he would use cyber weapons, he said “we’re so obsolete” and “I don’t think we’re as advanced as other countries are…”
We do need answers and a plan. Ron Johnson addressed it today with Jake Tapper.
He concludes that his foreign policy is a third category, America First.
“Not isolationist, I’m not isolationist, but I am “America First.” So I like the expression. I’m “America First.” We have been disrespected, mocked, and ripped off for many many years by people that were smarter, shrewder, tougher. We were the big bully, but we were not smartly led. And we were the big bully who was — the big stupid bully and we were systematically ripped off by everybody…”
CNN’s King discusses it.