No Minister

Why I would have voted for Trump – Foreign Policy

with 10 comments

I’m not an American citizen so cannot vote in their elections.

But were I able to do so, and being an avid follower of their politics for the last forty years, this is how my voting for President would have gone:

  • 1980 – Reagan
  • 1984 – Reagan
  • 1988 – GHW Bush (reluctantly but Dukakis was an awful candidate)
  • 1992 – Clinton
  • 1996 – Clinton
  • 2000 – Gore (flip of the coin really, didn’t like Bush II either)
  • 2004 – Bush
  • 2008 – McCain (reluctantly, but Obama’s promise to fundmentally transform America did not sit well with me, even as I knew he wouldn’t be able to)
  • 2012 – Romney (very reluctantly given he was a spineless squish)
  • 2016 – Trump
  • 2020 – Trump.

My reasons to vote for Trump in 2020 would have been much the same as in 2016, except that Biden is nowhere near as corrupt as Hillary Clinton which, considering what we now know about the Biden family business from the emails of his neer-do-well, drug-addled son, is saying something.

And in 2016 Trump was not trusted by many Republicans even as they voted for him. He had ripped into several supposedly sacrosanct aspects of the GOP: free trade agreements, military partnerships like NATO, wars involving America, the Bush/McCain/Romney groups. Moreover, Trump’s decades-long association with the Democrat Party raised the possibility that he’d simply agree with the likes of Pelosi on spending; a trillion dollar infrastructure bill was a distinct possibility.

But by 2020, much to the amazement of a lot of those Republican voters, Trump had turned out to be the real deal on the big promises he’d made. Perhaps this was aided by the Democrat’s almost insane rejection of him across the board. The idea of hugging him to death to kill off his GOP voter support never occurred to them, and their rejection – apparently coming as a surprise to Trump, who’d mingled with the Schumer’s, Pelosi’s and Clinton’s for years – made him realise very quickly that this was total war.

So for the 2020 election my reasons to vote for Trump were as follows in the area of foreign policy.

War

It’s quite incredible that so many Democrats screamed their brains out about how Trump would start wars; as if they’d never listened to him at all and never looked into his history on the subject. But then that’s TDS for you.

By contrast it has come as no surprise to me that Trump’s four year term will be the first in decades where an American President has not started a war, large or small. His attitude being “What’s in it for America” was and still is scorned by the architects of the Iran, Afghanistan and Libyan “interventions”, and many others, as a selfish, nationalistic attitude that tells the rest of the world to take a hike in constantly demanding the US solve its problems for them. No more Blackhawk Down’s.

I see no problem with that.

We’re all aware of what US Isolationism wrought in the 1930’s, but the simple fact is that when it comes to taking on the likes of China and Iran Trump has not been passive.

And the fact is that although I supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan the former was opposed by the very people who cried through the 1990’s about how awful Saddam was and how the US was propping him up, while the latter is a Forever War. Clearly no US President can ever again rely on Leftists who proclaim their horror about dictators and their awful human rights abuses and threats to peace. It turns out that Saddam was just another stick to beat the US with, as will be such future dictators.

I’m hopeful that despite the resistance of the Pentagon and the Intelligence Community, Trump will still pull most US troops from Afghanistan before he leaves office, leaving Biden with a fait accompli. Sure, the Taliban will take over but that’s going to happen even if the USA stays there another twenty years. It’s incredible to think that there may well be US soldiers serving in Afghanistan now who are the sons of men who fought there in 2002.

China

Twenty years ago I agreed with the idea of China being in the WTO, experiencing Free Trade. By then they’d had twenty years of a steadily freeing-up economy and although still a One-Party State they were rotating their Secretary Generals through a regular schedule, preventing the usual Communist bullshit of a Cult of Personality. Until Xi arrived, at which point it became clear that the paranoia of 1989 was still strong. The CCP was not going to allow itself to go the way of the USSR, including being corrupted and weakened by opening up to the West. Worse, the CCP found how useful was modern IT in building the Great Firewall and co-opting the likes of Google and Facebook, who drooled at the thought of more than a billion new customers swelling their networks, not to mention Hollywood and the whores of the NBA.

When Trump began to question all this in 2015, large elements of the GOP and the Democrats were aghast. And certainly it was just a repeat of what he’d said about Japan in the late 1980’s, and now look where they are.

But China is not Japan. The latter may have been pleased to see it’s keiretsu clobbering the American competition, but that was as far as it went. The CCP is determined to weld together its private sector success with geo-political goals and those goals are a determination to dominate the 21st century as America dominated the 20th. They are now a threat to Western nations and a far worse one than the USSR. They will not wage war as there is no need when you’re successfully breaking down your opponents and making them your defenders and enablers: “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

Trump has changed this dramatically. There are now large elements of both Democrats and Republicans who have a very skeptical take on China, especially in the wake of the Chinese Sinus Rot. It’s bipartisan but it needed to be pushed more. Perhaps it will be despite the corporate whoring of the Senator from MBNA.

Iran

Trump put an end to the pathetic appeasement of Iran by the Obama administration. The reason why Obama took that approach would be a book in itself but the best take on it that I’ve seen was that he had some strange Kissingerian concept of Iran as the big player in the Middle East and that enabling that would be a master stroke, whatever personal distaste he might have for the Mullahs.

By contrast Trump took the same attitude towards Iran that Reagan took towards the Soviet Union: “We win. They lose”. And in Iran losing, the Middle East would improve as Eastern Europe and the world improved when the USSR died. Pressure applied economically, militarily and diplomatically, with the vapourising of their paramilitary star, Soleimani, being the cherry on top.

And the result is that despite all the cries about Iran striking back they have actually gone into their shells. No more taking US sailors hostage to humilate the Great Satan as happened under Obama. And Iran has become much more isolated in the Middle East as it desperately tried to keep its terror groups Hezbollah and company alive with money it didn’t have.

Aa a result peace in the Middle Peace has progressed: exactly the opposite of what was predicted in taking on Iran.

NATO

At the end of the Cold War there were some serious discussions as to whether NATO should disband. But as is often the case with bureaucracies new reasons for their life are found, and NATO found theirs with the Baltic conflicts of the late 90’s.

But the outfit is more of a joke than ever. Germany’s reluctance to commit to the requirment for military spending to be pitched at 2% of GDP has had practical consequences with much of its tank, fighter aircraft, submarine and attack helicopter fleets grounded. And things have not improved since that 2018 BBC report. Other NATO members are not much better and only a NATO newbie, Poland, appears to be taking things seriously.

If these nations can’t be bothered committing then why should the USA carry the load? It’s not as if Russia’s broken-ass military is going to come sweeping across the plains. The US has bigger fish to fry in the Pacific. Trump’s rough-as-guts negotiation approach may have offended the usual stuffed-shirt brigade but it did get commitment for increased spending, although that’s not worth much nowadays. There has been much fashionable talk about “damaged relationships”.

And? What practical negative consequences have flowed from such? Nothing.

Free Trade Agreements

It will surprise many people to know that Trump is not anti-free trade. What he is against is the economic argument that it doesn’t matter if your free trade partners are cheating with export assistance and such like, since that still delivers cheaper goods to your people. Let the idiot taxpayers of other nations bankrupt themselves if they choose: you can use the money you save to invest in new services, products and entire industries. I accept that economically it’s a sound argument, but it ignores the reality that once industries are destroyed there’s a sunk cost that prevents them coming back even if those foreign taxpayers revolt against their masters. And the same goes for the domestic communities which depended on those domestic companies and industries.

An old high school friend of mine who went to the UK decades ago and never came back, ended up as a multi-millionaire with an engineering company he founded. But having dealt with them for years he is under no illusions about the Germans and other Europeans; they defend their industries, not just farming, with tarriffs and all manner of byzantine devices. To put it bluntly he said they don’t practice what they preach on Free Trade even having signed such agreements, but they expect others like the US to do so, to the cost of countless communities across the USA. And that’s just the Europeans: the CCP connect geopolitical designs to the economics.

And the reality was that Trump did get NAFTA re-designed, to the extent that Democrats in the House and Senate voted for changes that they had originally argued were not needed or could not be obtained. Somehow Trump did it.

Of course Bernie Sanders has also been hot on this topic for years and got traction on it from voters in both 2016 and 2020. Had it not been for the fear he created in the DNC and their resultant push of Biden when he looked to be dead in the water, Sanders could well have won the Democrat nomination and this topic would not have been disputed between the two men. The bipartisan consensus on blind support of free trade is fracturing fast, and the Democrats know it. Silicon Valley may not care, but the voters in Erie, Pennsylvania do, and they sent a message in 2016 by voting for Trump and again in 2020 even as they voted Biden by a slim margin.

Israel

Far back in the 1990’s the US Congress, by an overwhelming vote, decided to move the US Embassy to Jeruselem. And Clinton, Bush and Obama all found reasons not to do so, the first two after election pledges that they would. Those reasons supposedly being that the Palestinians would launch another intifada and that it was essential for Peace In The Middle East that an agreement be found between Israel and the Palestinians before anything else happened. Any other sequence would start a bonfire across the ME. The educated and cultured worthies of the US State Department, the Pentagon and the Intelligence Community made the same arguments to Trump that they’d made to previous Presidents.

Trump rejected their advice, transferred the embassy and …. nothing bad happened. There were a few protests for a couple of weeks and then they stopped. Similarly with Trump’s support for Israel, which has probably been the strongest of any US President. Which brings me to…

The Middle East

Trump’s actions on Israel and Iran were supposed to put the Arab world on edge, against the USA. Instead, it appears to have pulled them together with unprecedented connections springing up between Arab nations and Israel, guided by US negotiations.

In hindsight this should not have been a surprise. From the moment that Palestinians cheered Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 the Arab world had increasingly had a gutsful of supporting such backstabbers, resulting in a steady withdrawal of financial and diplomatic support. Moreover the idea that Iran would ever be a leader in the ME should have been considered a joke in light of two thousand years of Persian-Arab fighting. Crushing the Ayatollahs actually appealed to the ME states.

International Institutions: The UN, Paris Accord, WHO, etc

As with everything else, Trump’s approach to these things is not founded on some deep, intellectual level of analysis. It has simply been a gut feeling that these things, often created with great assistance from the USA, had now simply turned into bastions that constantly lambasted the USA for not “leading” – meaning doing what these institutions demanded – while constantly demanding funding from it, all while letting other nations, especially China, slide on almost any issue you care to think of. The WHO Director’s fellating of China over Covid-19 being merely the most obvious and disgusting recent example.

Stiffing such institutions was predicted to bring about failure and misery to the US – predictions by the same sort of credentialed experts who foresaw economic woes from trade fights and wars arising from Trump’s approaches and so forth.

Instead after almost four years of Trump we’re left with little but snivelling about hurt feelings, undiplomatic approaches and “damaged relationships”, with no explanation as to why these should matter when nothing bad of consequence has arisen from them.

Trump’s Foreign Policy In General

Trump is Jacksonian: There’s a good reason why Trump chose to prominently hang a painting of former President Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office. Jackson’s philosophy of  national security was focused on nationalistic concerns rather than global visions, while striking at any foreigner who attacked or killed Americans, but avoiding wars.

That is not isolationism.

And the fact that all the bad things predicted to happen as a result of Trump’s “ignorant”, “simple-minded”, “crude” foreign policy approach – economically, militarily, diplomatically – have not happened, is going to make things a lot tougher for any GOP or Democrat group that tries to resurrect the old order. At a minimum clear eyes are now being cast upon a host of credientialed “experts” whose Cassandra-like forecasts have not panned out.

Moreover Trump has actually strengthened relationships with countries like Poland, Israel, and various nations facing China, including the largest of all, India, to the extent that exercises are now being carried out between the navies of the US, India and other nations threatened by China. That is a significant advance in favour of the USA, and it is not going to go backwards now.

It will take some time but I fully expect that the likes of the NYT and other bastions of status quo thinking will, as the passions of the 2016 and 2020 elections recede, grudgingly come to admit that Trump was right on a great many foreign policy issues.

But more importantly, having seen that so many of these approaches worked, or at a minumum did not produce the disasters predicted, some future GOP President will follow in Trump’s footsteps, and without making themselves such a target as he did.

Written by Tom Hunter

November 25, 2020 at 7:00 am

10 Responses

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  1. You think Biden is more corrupt than Trump. Seriously?

    Right at that point your post failed, though mostly on character reasons rather than foreign policy analysis.

    As for your actual foreign policy reasons, well, they are open for debate.

    On the China issue, Trump did not start the US skepticism. It has been there for many years. Any NZ official over the last decade will have direct experience of it. Was his particular stance improving or harming things? Well, I can’t see that it helped. It hasn’t really deflected China’s rise, but it has made a calmer relationship more difficult. And it is in NZ’s interests to have a calmer relationship.

    As for the Middle East, well, to some extent I agree with you. Will a less antagonistic relationship with Iran change the Israel/Palestine dynamic, or more particularly will it stop Arab nations doing peace deals with Israel? We will see, but I suspect the momentum will continue. I do think that some version of the Trump plan for a Israel/Palestine peace settlement will come to pass. Will Joe and Kamala see that opportunity?

    As for the rest, well, I think most of the world will be happier with a less fraught and fevered approach to foreign policy.

    Wayne

    November 25, 2020 at 7:41 am

    • The post actually compares Biden with Hilary Clinton. The rest of Tom’s reasons for voting for Trump are interesting. Much of it strikes a chord with me. My reservation about Trump is based on the reactions of his USMC generals who got to know him first hand and then walked. His character to one side, I’d prefer a Republican administration if the House is Democrat. Pelosi, Schumer, all those big spending big-city career politicians – Blasio – worry me.

      Max Ritchie

      November 25, 2020 at 2:55 pm

    • “You think Biden is more corrupt than Trump. Seriously?”

      Come on, man, it’s not even a question! The Left spent four years trying to dig up dirt on Trump, and the best they got was a supposed quid pro quo with Ukraine for investigating Hunter Biden.

      Now we have actual proof that Biden was getting a cut of his son trading off of the Vice Presidency, and not only is Biden not being impeached, but the leftist media deliberately suppressed the story and probably cost Trump reelection because of it. Corruption doesn’t even begin to describe it. Biden makes Nixon look like a choirboy.

      blairmulholland

      November 26, 2020 at 11:29 am

  2. Well the neocons are back in charge under the watchful gaze of a corrupt old man in his dotage – more countries to be bombed back into the stone age

    There is lots money to be made looting the third world while the heartland of your own nation decays

    Andrei

    November 25, 2020 at 7:58 am

  3. Andrei,

    What wars did Obama start? Libya was really driven by the Europeans. Can you blame Obama for the Syrian civil war or ISIS, (though I imagine you will).

    By and large, when it came to war and the use of armed force, 2016 to 2020 looked much the same as 2012 to 2016.

    There seem to be no objective concerns in the Middle East which is going to lead a to a new war in the region.

    Wayne

    November 25, 2020 at 8:06 am

    • You don’t even know do you Wayne?

      Sudan
      Libya
      Yemen
      Syria
      Ukraine

      To be sure Obama had to have his arm twisted by Hillary Clinton before he smashed Libya

      Andrei

      November 25, 2020 at 8:29 am

  4. Of course I know about these wars. However, none were started, or in many cases, even aided and abetted by Obama, certainly no more so than by Trump. The only one that really fits the bill is Libya, which I acknowledged.

    Do you think there are any real flash points in the Middle East that would cause a new war?

    Wayne

    November 25, 2020 at 9:07 am

    • Nagorno-Karabakh

      Andrei

      November 25, 2020 at 9:45 am

  5. And as for Ukraine, the main bad actor is Putin.

    Wayne

    November 25, 2020 at 9:08 am

  6. Noel

    November 25, 2020 at 1:46 pm


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