Gaze Long Into The Trump Foreign Policy And It Gazes Back Into You: A Wonksplainer!
Sure, go ahead and vote for him, but you don't get a parachute
Reading Donald Trump's Wednesday interview with the New York Times, we were struck by the thought that he actually hates America. Holds it in contempt, at least, and thinks it's a pathetic thing that might be just salvageable by the super-genius Donald J. Trump, maybe, we'll see.
The transcript of the interview shows that Trump knows very little about the world and America's place in it, believes a great deal of deeply anti-American things that simply are not true, and lacks the judgment to be trusted with a choice of movie night, let alone the nuclear codes. "Oh, you rented 'Daddy Day Camp', huh? Great...."
In a rambling, pugnacious, sneering dismissal of American bipartisan foreign policy of the past 75 years, Trump called our allies grifting parasites, mused on the possible upside of a North Korean victory in 1950, and said the United States lacks the moral standing to criticize autocrats who lock up and torture dissidents. Oh, and we can't afford our war machine, either, which anyway is weak and obsolete. All of this was stated in the constantly equivocating word salad that Trump employs when bullshitting about topics on which he's ignorant. It reads as if Noam Chomsky and Sarah Palin had co-written a foreign policy speech, and had it delivered by a hungover Huey Long.
Trump: NATO Is A Racket
Speaking with the Times' David Sanger and Maggie Haberman, Trump reiterated the nonsense he frequently throws into his standard stump ramblings, that the 28-nation North Atlantic Treaty Organization became obsolete 25 years ago at the end of the Cold War, and the United States is being played for suckers in providing the bulk of the alliance's military muscle.
Trump wants to make the U.S. commitment to NATO's mutual defense pact more of conditional offer, subject to credit checks and local dealer availability:
TRUMP: If we cannot be properly reimbursed for the tremendous cost of our military protecting other countries, and in many cases the countries I’m talking about are extremely rich. Then if we cannot make a deal, which I believe we will be able to, and which I would prefer being able to, but if we cannot make a deal, I would like you to say, I would prefer being able to, some people, the one thing they took out of your last story, you know, some people, the fools and the haters, they said, “Oh, Trump doesn’t want to protect you.” I would prefer that we be able to continue, but if we are not going to be reasonably reimbursed for the tremendous cost of protecting these massive nations with tremendous wealth — you have the tape going on?
SANGER: We do.
HABERMAN: We both do.
TRUMP: With massive wealth. Massive wealth. We’re talking about countries that are doing very well. Then yes, I would be absolutely prepared to tell those countries, “Congratulations, you will be defending yourself.”
Trump likes to claim that the United States pays "the lion's share" for NATO, which is a lie. The U.S. pays less than $500 million a year to directly support NATO, less than a tenth of one percent of our total defense budget, and about 22 percent of the total NATO budget.
The U.S. spends about twice as much as most NATO allies on defense, as a percentage of gross domestic product, because the U.S. decided after 1945 that it was a lot cheaper to deter wars by having the biggest stick, than to wind up in another global conflagration. The U.S. military is deployed around the world, with 10 aircraft carrier battle groups, while NATO is mainly a static garrison force in Europe (although the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan was a NATO mission).
Now we know, hippies, American hegemony didn't end war, and led to Vietnam, Iraq, etc. Those were horrific wastes of human life, but no war on earth compares to the scale of death and devastation around the globe from 1937 to 1945. American partnership in European cooperation and mutual defense changed what had been one of the most war-torn parts of the earth for millennia.
You know how ignorant people say the U.S. should just abandon the Middle East "because those people have been fighting since the Stone Age"? Many Americans, specifically supporters of the "America First Committee," said that about Europe before 1945. Trump seems to think it a bad thing that western Europe traded in mass conscription and militaristic cultures for tiny armies that can't operate without one another.
Watch this if you don't believe (seriously, watch it; it's terrific):
Sure, some NATO countries have been a little slack in their spending commitments; Obama's even criticized them for it. But that's been changing since Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea two years ago, and now is probably the worst possible time to signal to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin that America thinks some parts of NATO are less worth defending than others.
Or, if you're Trump lickspittle Newt Gingrich, defending the indefensible, it's the PERFECT time:
You know that if Obama or Hillary Clinton had said anything like this first, Republican hawks in Congress would have called for impeachment hearings.
Trump: Everyone Else Sucks, Too
This is running long, so let's look at the dumbest, least-informed thing Trump said, about the Korean peninsula:
TRUMP: How is it helping us? How has it helped us? We have massive trade deficits. I could see that, if instead of having a trade deficit worldwide of $800 billion, we had a trade positive of $100 billion, $200 billion, $800 billion. So how has it helped us?
SANGER: Well, keeping the peace. We didn’t have a presence in places like Korea in 1950, or not as great a presence, and you saw what happened.
TRUMP: There’s no guarantee that we’ll have peace in Korea.
SANGER: Even with our troops, no, there’s no guarantee.
TRUMP: No, there’s no guarantee. We have 28,000 soldiers on the line.
SANGER: But we’ve had them there since 1953 and ——
TRUMP: Sure, but that doesn’t mean that there wouldn’t be something going on right now. Maybe you would have had a unified Korea. [Wonkette bold] Who knows what would have happened? In the meantime, what have we done? So we’ve kept peace, but in the meantime we’ve let North Korea get stronger and stronger and more nuclear and more nuclear, and you are really saying, “Well, how is that a good thing?” You understand? North Korea now is almost like a boiler. You say we’ve had peace, but that part of Korea, North Korea, is getting more and more crazy. And more and more nuclear. And they are testing missiles all the time.
SANGER: They are.
TRUMP: And we’ve got our soldiers sitting there watching missiles go up. And you say to yourself, “Oh, that’s interesting.” Now we’re protecting Japan because Japan is a natural location for North Korea. So we are protecting them, and you say to yourself, “Well, what are we getting out of this?”
SANGER: Well, we keep our missile defenses out there. And those missile defenses help prevent the day when North Korea can reach the United States with one of its missiles. It’s a lot easier to shoot down from there ——
TRUMP: We’ve had them there for a long time, and now they’re practically obsolete, in all fairness.
We're not sure what's the worst part of this, the ignorance about U.S.-Japan missile defense (it's cutting-edge and not even fully deployed yet), or the notion that maybe things would be better in South Korea if we'd just let Kim Il-Sung have the place in 1950.
Trump didn't stop by slandering U.S. military effectiveness, of course. He went after America's values, too, citing recent police shootings and civil rights protests as a reason for us to keep our mouths shut at crackdowns on dissidents and journalists in Turkey. First, he flirted with a false-flag conspiracy theory, like you do:
HABERMAN: How closely did you watch last week as events were unfolding in Turkey with the coup? Is there anything you would have done differently in how it was handled?
TRUMP: The coup never took place — the coup was not successful, and based on the fact, and I give great credit to him for being able to turn that around.
TRUMP: Yes, some people say that it was staged. You know that?
SANGER: We’ve heard.
TRUMP: I don’t think so, but I do give great credit to him for turning it around. You know, the first hour, it seemed like it was over. Then all of a sudden, and the amazing thing is the one that won that was the people. They came out on the streets, and the army types didn’t want to drive over them like they did in Tiananmen Square when they sort of drived them over, and that was the end of that. Right? People said, I’m not going to drive over people. The people came out of their homes, and they were not in favor of what the military was doing. So that was quite impressive from the standpoint of existing government. I will say this: I think Turkey can do a lot against ISIS, and I would hope that if I’m dealing with them, they will do much more about ISIS.
SANGER: Erdogan put nearly 50,000 people in jail or suspend them, suspended thousands of teachers, he imprisoned many in the military and the police, he dismissed a lot of the judiciary. Does this worry you? And would you rather deal with a strongman who’s also been a strong ally, or with somebody that’s got a greater appreciation of civil liberties than Mr. Erdogan has? Would you press him to make sure the rule of law applies?
TRUMP: I think right now when it comes to civil liberties, our country has a lot of problems, and I think it’s very hard for us to get involved in other countries when we don’t know what we are doing and we can’t see straight in our own country. We have tremendous problems when you have policemen being shot in the streets, when you have riots, when you have Ferguson. When you have Baltimore. When you have all of the things that are happening in this country — we have other problems, and I think we have to focus on those problems. When the world looks at how bad the United States is, and then we go and talk about civil liberties, I don’t think we’re a very good messenger.
Ugh, there's a lot more about reneging on trade deals Trump doesn't like, and his dumb idea that trade deficits are a sign of economic weakness rather than a measure of how much more money the U.S. has to spend than poorer countries that rely on exporting raw materials and the products of sweat-shop manufacturing.
Also, too, he'd solve the long-standing enmity between Turks and Kurds with meetings! Only Donald Trump, a boardroom, and a tray of bagels can save us all from ISIS.
Seriously, y'all, do not screw around this November. The whole world is watching.