As Trump gets ready to speak again on national security, I want to return to a basic point. I’ve heard numerous people – people who should know better – claiming that Trump is either critiquing Clinton from the left or embracing a non-interventionist Realist foreign policy.
This is silly.
It’s pretty well established that Trump is lying when he says he opposed the Iraq War. That’s simply not true. What’s far more important is that what Trump actually says, commits to for the future, isn’t Realism or non-interventionism but magical thinking. Consider this: Trump says that he’ll destroy ISIS quickly (even making occasional wild remarks about using nuclear weapons); he says he’ll set up and defend vast ‘safe zones’ in the Syrian desert; he says he’ll tear up the Iran nuclear deal and bring Iran to heal. And he’ll do all this while avoiding the foreign entanglements and ruinous foreign wars of Clintonism.
There are definitely solid critiques of Clinton’s interventionism. But this isn’t one of them. What Trump is proposing isn’t Realism. It’s wild interventionism with the promise that everything will go great and nothing will go wrong. Everybody promises that.
This isn’t even a complete list. I’m only focusing on the things Trump is promising in the Middle East. I’m not even getting into things like threats against NATO members of Europe or encouraging arms build ups among allies in East Asia – things which there are very good arguments could lead to wars. I’m not even getting into those. I’m talking about the wars and interventions he’s actually promising. It’s also not getting into the fact that he’s calling for a massive military build up after an era of soaring defense spending.
Rand Paul and his father had a Realist, non-interventionist foreign policy which they advocated fairly consistently. That isn’t remotely what Trump is proposing. He’s proposing getting all the toys and kicking all the ass that the hardest core warmongers want. He’s just taking ‘democracy’ off the list of reasons for doing it and promising everything will go great. That’s not policy. That’s bullshit. Aggressive foreign policy, for aspirational motives or dark ones involves foreign entanglements, involves things going wrong. Why this isn’t obvious to more people I do not know.