Is Donald Trump Right About Foreign Policy?

 

This question is what an article in Foreign Policy magazine wanted to ask. But they didn’t have the guts to be so provocative? So they came up with a sissy title to their article. We have no qualms about using it as title for our article because it is a hard question and an extremely important one.

First, the writer of the FP article is terribly anti-Trump. Below is a collection of his comments about Trump’s candidacy from his article:

  • For no reason should Donald Trump become the next president of the United States … Yes, he should be silenced on most issues. And it’s probably good news that he’s slipping in the polls … In the end, Trump is a terrible candidate for his party and his country. … A victory for Trump would be a loss for America. …”

Despite all this, the writer ends up arguing:

  • “But the truth is, The Donald has a grand (you might even call it yooge) vision. In its simplest terms, he seems to believe that the United States should not expend its foreign-policy energy and power unless its allies, partners, or other stakeholders have a similar commitment to solving the issue at hand. That’s basically the opposite of the current consensus among Washington’s foreign-policy and national security leaders.” 
  • “Trump emphatically believes in assessing each situation anew, at minimum causing a rethink and at most leading a reversal of years of American foreign policy.”

Why? The writer explains via recent history:

  • “Since the days of Woodrow Wilson, America has toggled between liberal interventionists and neoconservatives. Their main drives are to spread American influence by democratization, the liberals with institutions and “soft power” and neoconservatives, usually, with force. No American foreign-policy debate, especially since World War II, has proceeded without one of these camps animating the ultimate course of action. It has led to some successes, like ending a war in Bosnia, but it has led to many failures, like the current crises in Iraq and Libya”

1. America’s Imperial Class

Whether the FP writer knows it or not, his views above are mere echoes of what Robert Kaplan, author of “Monsoon”, wrote in 2012 his Stratfor article titled America’s Imperial Class:

  • “An imperial class is a large group of people who have a deeply evolved sense of imperial mission, and whose professional interests are connected to that mission succeeding. They number journalists and policy experts at think tanks who collectively define the debate among elites throughout the Boston-to-Washington media corridor; and by defining that debate determine the opinions that bombard any administration on the foreign policy front. This class is financially well off and generally educated at the best schools. It is the product of decades of prosperity going back to the post-World War II era. Whereas Washington in the mid-20th century had barely a handful of think tanks, the city is now packed with them. As for the media, it now constitutes a power center all its own that includes both liberal internationalists and neoconservatives, both of whom have in the past supported using the American military to impose American values.”

We consider the two, often warring, segments of America’s Imperial Class as mirror images of each other. So we began using NeoLibs as our term for the opposite of NeoCons instead of the false & self-congratulatory term “liberal internationalists“. After all there was nothing “liberal” in killing Gaddafi and leaving Libya in ruins. NeoLibs hate America’s intervention in Iraq but love America’s interventions in Libya and Syria. NeoCons love the Iraq intervention but despise the Libyan one.

But NeoLibs & NeoCons can sometimes agree as we wrote in April 2014 article The Curse of Oil – Is That Behind Current US Foreign Policy Adventures:

  • “The two segments of America’s Imperial Class generally detest each other, to put it mildly. But Vladimir Putin is one enemy that both unite against. The right wing considers Putin’s Russia to be America’s greatest geostrategic challenger and the left wing wants Ukraine & eventually Russia to become like “liberal” Western Europe. But the American people simply don’t care. Ian Bremmer quoted a recent Pew poll in his article that showed “A full 80 percent agree that the United States should “not think so much in international terms but concentrate more on our own national problems.””

Enter Donald Trump, the only Republican candidate who is tune with the American people in putting America first. Most people can see that but very few have noticed the boldest and smartest departure of Trump from the rest of the Republican pack.

2. Trump & Putin

President Obama’s biggest mistake has been his pushing of Putin towards China. This was a mistake that neither FDR nor Nixon would ever have contemplated, let alone committed. But that was a stance that received unanimous approval from both NeoLibs & NeoCons. This is why no one else in the Republican field has said anything except endorse the get tough with Putin message. Neither has any one on the Democratic side.

Trump has been the only voice to argue that pushing Russia & China into each other’s arms is a stupid mistake and a dangerous one. Trump has stated that he can build a relationship with Putin. He has even celebrated the Sixty Minutes show that featured Trump & Putin on the same night but separately.

Is Trump’s confidence about building a relationship with Putin purely braagadocio or a smart evaluation of Putin? The vast majority would argue the former but not us. Because we think Trump is the perfect counterpart to Putin. Why? Because Putin is desperately looking for a neo-Nixon US President. Huh?

We take you back to June 2013 when Robert Kaplan wrote an article titled The world Through Putin’s Eyes:

  • Putin wants a discussion with the Americans based on geopolitical interests, not values. President Richard Nixon went to China to negotiate with Mao Zedong because it was in America’s interest to do so; the fact that Mao had just killed millions in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was not an over riding detail. So where is my Nixon? Putin must think. After all, I have not killed millions like Mao. I have not even murdered thousands. In 1972, the American media praised Nixon for going to China and negotiating with a mass murderer. Now the same media would not let President Barack Obama go to Moscow to negotiate with a normal autocrat unless he delivers scolding lectures on human rights.” [emphasis ours]

Kaplan added:

  • “Nixon would understand Russia’s geopolitical insecurities and partially assuage them, in order to gain some leverage over China, just as four decades ago he had moved closer to China in order to gain some leverage over Russia. Were the United States to give Russia more leeway in the Caucasus and Central Asia — rather than trying to compete with Russia in those regions — Russia might find ingenious ways to make China more nervous along its land borders. And that, in turn, would make China somewhat less able to devote so much of its energy to projecting power in the Pacific Basin, where it threatens American allies. None of this would remotely fall into the category of aggressive or irresponsible international behavior, mind you. Trying to adjust the global balance of power in one’s favor is a perennial goal of statesmanship.”

Frankly, President Obama never understood any of this because he is incapable of thinking in this mode. So what do we see today? President Obama has been forced to challenge China in a military way by sending a destroyer into Chinese-claimed waters in the South China Sea. He has been forced to send US combat troops, ok advisors, into Syria to at least show some face in the Middle East. Instead of isolating Putin, Obama now sees US protectorates like Iraq & Afghanistan reaching out Putin for help.   

What a mess? But a mess that the rest of the Republican field wants to deepen into a quagmire. Because these candidates are told to mouth current consensus by their political advisers. In contrast, just think what an effective relationship between Trump & Putin can deliver.

The Ukraine issue will be settled very quickly and with German support too. Germany & rest of Europe is eager to get rid of the Ukraine issue and begin normal trading relationship with Russia. Trump’s USA will kill ISIS in Iraq and let Putin’s Russia kill ISIS in Syria. Assad is a better alternative than the Sunni Jihadi rebels as Trump has already argued on several occasions. If Syria is somewhat settled, then migrants to Europe can be brought back & resettled in a safe zone near Turkish border away from the Alawite regions of Syria. If America & Russia jointly set up a safe zone in Syria after killing much of ISIS, who is going to make that zone unsafe?

3. The Real Potential Payoff from Trump-Putin relationship

Trump has said on numerous occasions that he would destroy oil wells held by ISIS to cut off their revenues. He has said he would take 50% of oil revenues from Iraq as compensation for US efforts to liberate Iraqi Shias and establish today’s Shia regime in Iraq. More importantly, Trump has said that he would make Saudi Arabia pay for US protection arguing that Saudis make one billion dollars a day while US pays its own expenses for protecting them.

Take all this a bit farther and see what you get. Trump understands that oil revenues are the real engine for funding Sunni jihadi turmoil in the Middle East. And who provides these funds? Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, all committed verbal allies of America. Trump gets this but voicing this would be too much even for him. Putin has gotten this and said this for years but is unable to do anything about this because Obama’s America has been committed to coddling Saudi Arabia & GCC regimes.

What if President Trump & President Putin do manage to work together to solve Ukraine and stabilize Syria & Iraq? Know that they both understand that these are mere band aids to stop the bleeding while avoiding surgery. What surgical procedure could they jointly do to solve the intermediate term problem?

4. Surgical Procedure by Trump & Putin?

Both these “surgeons” know that the circulation of Jihadi funding begins in Saudi Arabia, the most extreme Wahabi state in the world. This flow has killed both Americans & Russians. It has forced massive expenditures on America & Russia to fight the Sunni Jihadis that benefit from the flow of funds. So what could do the Trump-Putin team do?

Actually it is very simple. The only requirements are chutzpah, guts and tenacity. We all know these two guys have all that and some. So USA & Russia jointly seize Saudi oil fields & perhaps GCC oil fields in the name of the UN Security Council. They announce this as necessary for world peace and for sustained economic growth. They announce a multi-national team of energy executives to run these oil fields. The oil revenues will principally go to ordinary Saudi & GCC citizens for their development. The moderate Mullahs & religious madrassas that support this UN effort would get adequate funding. The Sunni jihadi terrorists will be killed and fanatical madrassas will be shut off from all funding and treated appropriately if they resist.

A multi-national force will protect and guard UN run oilfields & pipelines under American & Russian protection. China would support this whole-heartedly and would even contribute a sizable portion of the peace-keeping force. In other words, the entire UN Security Council would support and manage this effort. That would draw in India and other countries. Iran would automatically cease & desist from its own adventures because what happened to Saudi Arabia could easily be repeated in Iran. Remember, Russia is even more worried about an adventurous Iran than America. And China is only interested in Iran from energy and economic perspectives.

Clearly, the above is our imagination and perhaps our dream solution for the Middle East. And it certainly reeks of semi-colonialism. But the big difference would be joint action of the UN Security Council backed by the UN General Assembly. The ultimate beneficiaries would be the ordinary people of the Middle East who have suffered from terrorism. Russia would benefit from a stable oil price and from a stable geostrategic environment in Eurasia & Middle East. America would finally be able to take a break from fighting Sunni terrorists and focus on rebuilding America. The world will be a safer place to live and prosper.

The only Republican candidate who can think along the above lines is Donald Trump. The rest of the Republican field is dedicated to current polarization between NeoLibs & NeoCons. That is why even those who can’t stand Donald Trump like this FP writer are asking for a closer look at Trump’s foreign policy views. If left-wing writers feel compelled to look at Trump, can Middle America be far behind?

 

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