During her recent “major” speech on foreign policy, Hillary said, “Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different – they are dangerously incoherent… They’re not even really ideas – just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies.” Unable to pass beyond criticism of her opponent, she was wavering between an emotional appeal and a strategic advantage, never able to articulate neither a policy nor a strategy.
The Donald Trump problem is not lack of ideas; his problem is that his ideas, often expressed in incomplete and tactless form that allows critics to deliberately misinterpret and misconstrue them, to incite a collective antagonism of various interest groups. So, as his supporter, I endeavor to put his “dangerously incoherent ideas” in historical perspective and let the facts speak for themselves.
As we can infer from Hillary’s speech, beyond the name calling, the core divergence of geopolitical views of the two contenders for the High Office is this:
“This is someone who has threatened to abandon our allies in NATO” she said. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was founded in April 1949, to serve three objectives:
At that time, Europe was in ruins – facing a formidable threat from the Red Army and later from the combined forces of the Warsaw Pact. Today, the geostrategic reality is fundamentally distinct from 1940s and 50s.
Seventy years later, the kids have grown up. The European Union is a massive economic power, with a population of 500 million and a combined GDP equal to the US. It should be equal or even more powerful than the United States, but having downgraded its military capabilities, it continues to rely on the US for maintaining the balance of power in Europe.
The absurdity is that while the Europeans are enjoying a 35-hour work week, generous benefits and extended vacations, the American workers have to put in 40-50 hours per week to support the European defense. And, it gets better! With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact, NATO finds itself without a mission. Mission accomplished is not good news for a military alliance — it needs enemies for self-preservation. Hence, in violation of the verbal agreement between the Secretary of State, Jim Baker, and the Russian Foreign Minister, Shevardnadze, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, NATO launched a massive expansion to the East that can only be seen from Moscow as the strategy to encircle Russia and turn the Russian neighbors into hostile countries.
As George Kennan, American diplomat and author of the concepts of “Cold War” and “containment,” wrote in the New York Times on February 5, 1997:
“…. expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-cold war era.” “Such a decision may be expected to inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion; to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, and to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking.”
President Clinton, who was an architect of the expansion, ignored George Kennan’s prophetic warning and subsequently created a destabilizing environment in Europe. This environment has been further exacerbated by the policies of the Obama administration; which are provoking Russia’s paranoia and may lead to a direct confrontation with NATO.
Hillary also declared that, “This is a man who said more countries should have nuclear weapons, including Saudi Arabia.” The truth is the United States has no power to prevent Saudi Arabia, or any other country, from acquiring nuclear weapons. Overall, the nuclear non-proliferation has been a colossal strategic failure. While the bad guys have been getting nuclear weapons, the good guys are feeling quite comfortable under the US nuclear umbrella – minimizing their military spending.
South Korea is a case in point. An economic powerhouse with a population of fifty-million, is protected by thirty-thousand American troops against the failed state of North Korea, with a population of half the size. Since the United States failed to prevent North Korea from obtaining a nuclear weapon, perhaps it makes sense for our friend to adequately arm herself. The same would be true for Japan.
Whatever the validity of the Democrats’ argument for the continuation of existing policies, from Western Europe to Asia and from Eastern Europe to the Middle East, idealism and affinity have led to the over-extension of American commitments. Trump envisions a new world order in which American interests are preeminent and are the basis for international relations. Hillary, in effect, argues for the status quo – which in this ever-evolving world would inevitably lead to stagnation.
As Lord Salisbury stated, “The commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcass of dead policies.”