I think he comes off as reasonable, coherent, and unafraid to say what needs to be said. Before I get into the speech, I would note that I was struck by how cleverly Trump was able to express his views with the sort of sophistication that appeals to the New York and Washington "elite" without backing off from or selling out the basic message that has so energized voters and has brought him to the verge of becoming the GOP 2016 presidential candidate.
It was the best foreign policy speech of the campaign by any candidate. Quite masterful. The man has to be taken seriously on foreign affairs.
His overriding theme is one which this humble blog has repeatedly raised,
America First will be the major and overriding theme of my administration.
But to chart our path forward, we must first briefly look back.
We have a lot to be proud of. In the 1940s we saved the world. The Greatest Generation beat back the Nazis and the Japanese Imperialists.
Then we saved the world again, this time from totalitarian Communism. The Cold War lasted for decades, but we won.
Democrats and Republicans working together got Mr. Gorbachev to heed the words of President Reagan when he said: “tear down this wall.”
History will not forget what we did.
Unfortunately, after the Cold War, our foreign policy veered badly off course. We failed to develop a new vision for a new time. In fact, as time went on, our foreign policy began to make less and less sense.
Logic was replaced with foolishness and arrogance, and this led to one foreign policy disaster after another.
We went from mistakes in Iraq to Egypt to Libya, to President Obama’s line in the sand in Syria. Each of these actions have helped to throw the region into chaos, and gave ISIS the space it needs to grow and prosper.
It all began with the dangerous idea that we could make Western democracies out of countries that had no experience or interest in becoming a Western Democracy.
We tore up what institutions they had and then were surprised at what we unleashed. Civil war, religious fanaticism; thousands of American lives, and many trillions of dollars, were lost as a result. The vacuum was created that ISIS would fill. Iran, too, would rush in and fill the void, much to their unjust enrichment.
Our foreign policy is a complete and total disaster.He certainly starts at the right place, and goes on from there to make a pretty well structured argument for a more nationalist foreign policy (I have a few quibbles, see below.) He understands the link between domestic and foreign policies, and how absurd policies in one arena can have dire consequences in the other. He also understands the importance of military power while being reluctant to use it needlessly. He advocates an overdue rebuilding of our nuclear and conventional forces. He skewers Obama's Iran deal, and mocks him, appropriately, for the shabby reception given Obama in Cuba and Saudi Arabia--citing them as examples of the contempt and disregard with which foreign leaders hold the current president. He does a good job of tying Hillary Clinton to the mast of the sinking Obama foreign policy ship, uttering the word that Romney would not, "Benghazi." He also has no problem naming the threat posed by "radical Islam." I, of course, think the problem is more fundamental than "radical Islam," but, nevertheless, it's a good start, especially his insistence that "moderate" Muslim nations have to prove their commitment to fighting the crazies.
He avoided the great EU mess, probably wisely at this juncture, but did a good job of taking on the "refugee" lovers. He rightly noted that there is no way to vet these refugees, to wit, we don't know who they are or where they come from--a little something this blog has gone on and on about from the start. He stuck to his guns on immigration and lousy trade deals, both of which can hurt working Americans
He was right to note that most NATO members are not honoring their commitments, and in asking that they do so if they expect us to help defend them. Good, as far as it goes, but I have a couple of issues here. If you're a great power and intend to remain one, there are times when you have to accept an unequal burden. While he was right to criticize defense slackers, he also should have mentioned that allies such as Australia and Britain have stepped up repeatedly to defend the West and to put their blood and treasure on the line.
Not bad. Not bad, at all, especially since Hillary has no way to respond. I look forward to his expanding on his foreign policy vision.