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Would Donald Trump Save Americans From Unnecessary War?

Donald Trump is headed toward the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. He’s among the most pugnacious of candidates. 

Many of his political battles could reduce his chance of getting elected president. But his fight with foreign policy professionals might help. Given the disastrous course of U.S. foreign policy in recent years, there’s little Afghanistanpublic support for more military adventurism in the Middle East. 

Trump clearly is out-of-step with the neoconservatives and militaristic nationalists who dominated the Republican Party of late. One of Trump’s most important pledges addressed personnel, not policy 

He declared: “My goal is to establish a foreign policy that will endure for several generations. That’s why I also look and have to look for talented experts with approaches and practical ideas, rather than surrounding myself with those who have perfect resumes but very little to brag about except responsibility for a long history of failed policies and continued losses at war. We have to look for new people.” 

Trump may have been reacting against the open letter from 117 self-described members of “the Republican national security community,” including leading neoconservatives and right-leaning interventionists of other stripes. They denounced Trump as “fundamentally dishonest,” acting like “a racketeer,” being “hateful,” and having a vision that “is wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle.” 

Their critique contained some truth, but was fueled by Trump’s lack of enthusiasm for new wars. In fact, a number of his GOP critics support Hillary Clinton, whose approach is largely indistinguishable from that of George W. Bush. 

Ironically, Clinton claims support of foreign leaders as an argument for her candidacy: “I’m having foreign leaders ask if they can endorse me to stop Donald Trump.” But their backing reflects the fact that her interventionist policies serve the interests of other states far more than of America. 

Indeed, subsidizing prosperous, populous allies and attempting to remake failed states provides little benefit to most Americans, who do the dying and paying. Clinton’s foreign support actually reinforces Trump’s point: the need for an international policy that advances the interests of the American people. 

Trump’s promise to ignore the usual foreign policy suspects also may reflect media coverage of some members of the very same policy elite publicly stating their willingness to serve Trump—though only reluctantly, of course. An unnamed GOP official told the Washington Post: “Leaving any particular president completely alone and bereft from the best advice people could give him just doesn’t sound responsible.” 

Of course, it’s all about advancing the national interest, and not gaining attractive, influential, prestigious, and career-enhancing jobs. No wonder Trump apparently sees no need for advice from such folks. 

Author Evan Thomas defended the “global corps of diplomats, worldly financiers and academics.” Thomas seemed to miss Trump’s point. Trump endorsed diplomacy, which would require the assistance of a variety of seasoned professionals. In fact, his policies would rely far more on negotiation than those of neoconservatives, who see war as a first resort. 

Not needed, however, are such “advisers” with the reverse Midas Touch, whose counsel has proved to be uniformly disastrous. Indeed, every recent intervention, such as Iraq, has created new problems, creating calls from the usual suspects for more military action. 

Trump may be feeling especially dismissive of those who never learn from their mistakes—like supporting the wars in Iraq and Libya, for instance.  

In August 2011, after the ouster of Moammar Khadafy, Anne-Marie Slaughter celebrated the success in an article entitled “Why Libya skeptics were proved badly wrong.” Once that country imploded and the Islamic State made an appearance, she dropped any discussion of who had been “proved badly wrong” by that conflict. 

Samantha Power later criticized the public for losing its faith in her strategy of constant war: “I think there is too much of, ‘Oh, look, this is what intervention has wrought’ … one has to be careful about overdrawing lessons.” 

Of course, what she really sought was to avoid responsibility for supporting multiple foreign policy blunders. Consider what the Iraq invasion has wrought: thousands of American dead, bloody sectarian war, promiscuous suicide attacks, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, trillions of dollars squandered, rise of the Islamic State, destruction of the historic Christian community, dramatic increase in Iranian influence. No wonder Trump disclaims any interest in listening to such people with such ideas. 

There are many reasons to fear a President Trump. However, he is right to dismiss Washington’s interventionist foreign policy crowd. The resulting policies would require the assistance of a variety of seasoned professionals, have cost America precious lives, abundant wealth, international credibility, and global influence. The next president should reject the same failed advisers with their same failed proposals. 


Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He is the author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire.

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Illogical Endless War Blunderers vs Unnecessary Wars

After a series illogical strawmen bullet points, writer "exner" says: "I believe we are a moral country that should not sit by and watch bad people slaughter innocent people so some wars are worth fighting." However, his "some wars are worth fighting" logically means some wars are not worth fighting.
A Trump Administration is superior choice to Hillary the Queen of Benghazi. Also, Trump has displayed a much needed return to realism and pragmatism that avoids the unrepentant blunderers that brought us Iraq.

Donald Trump an War

Donald Trump wants to win at least the war against ISIS, not start a new one unless attacked like 1941 Pearl Harbor.
Roy Fredrichsen

Donald Trump and war

We were attacked before 9-11 smaller attacks perhaps but attacked none the less, perhaps you believe there is a magic number that has to be reached before we react, the enemy loves that blind vision of the future, they know they can continue attacking us without any major retaliations.
We were attacked on 9-11, thousand died.
We are continuing to be attacked.
Anyone who thinks that ISIS is the only issue to be dealt with is seriously delusional.
Radical islam is the problem, they existed long before 9-11 and we did not respond to any of the smaller attacks on the U.S. whether it was embassies, ships etc. The more they attack us and we do nothing the bolder they become and we become a bigger target. Best targets are the ones viewed as paper tigers.
Hope the Americans willing to cede to the muslims are ready to convert to the muslims, they ain't going to like it.

Unnecessary wars

The real question is what is an unnecessary war?
If you believe that the world is flat and the wind only blows from west to east then all wars are unnecessary.
If you believe that the United States of America is an island unto itself and what happens in other countries will never touch our shores then all wars are unnecessary.
If you believe that as a moral country the United States should sit by and watch bad people slaughter innocent people than all wars are unnecessary.
I do not believe the world to be flat and the wind only blows from the west to the east so some wars are worth fighting.
I do not believe the United States is an island unto itself and what happens in other countries will eventually land on the shores of the United States so some wars are worth fighting.
I believe we are a moral country that should not sit by and watch bad people slaughter innocent people so some wars are worth fighting.
The real question about Donald Trump is does he understand the difference between an unnecessary ware and a moral war, and if he does, does he know enough to allow our military to fight a war to win not to contain?

Peace and War

Peace is attained by the use and show of strength........Walk softly and carry a big stick.......I would rather you feared my power than give me your respect.....All things being equal, I would not give the opposition a chance to get out from under my boot....