Donald Trump

Trump’s Foreign Policy

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The nomination of Donald Trump this week could had been an opportunity to begin to understand the foreign policy of the New York businessman turned into politician. Like in many other areas of policy it doesn’t sound clear what he means but it certainly doesn’t sound like an average Republican. Even in an event organized by the Washington Post at the convention to discuss this topic, two experts in national security like Congressman Adam Kinzinger and Cato Institute’s Emma Ashford seem unable to underline a coherent vision of what Trump wants America to do overseas.

But despite the somehow incoherent mumblings of the insurgent politician there are some clues that could very useful to understand the logic behind his statements. Trump had expressed sympathy for Putin who he considers a strong leader, while the neoconservative wing of the GOP had sounded very hawkish on Russia comparing the Putin government with the Soviet Union. There is a wide variety of conservative that also had express sympathy for Russia, but in general there a two groups, the paleoconservatives like Pat Buchanan who consider Vladimir Putin a defender of Christian values or populists like Sarah Palin who appreciate the image of Russian president as a tough leader. Trump had said that he would like to maintain good relations with Putin and the Russian president had also express sympathy for the real-estate mogul. But it seems that there is an obstacle in the relations: NATO.

Both neoconservatives and liberal interventionists had long consider that now there is basically a new Cold War with Russia. United States representing a form of liberal democracy and Russia as an authoritarian vision of right-wing populism. Is not surprise that neoconservatives like William Kristol is so adamantly an opponent of Trump, some neoconservatives like Robert Kagan are backing Clinton whose own hawkish views had been reinforced by her advisors coming the liberal interventionist wing of the Democratic Party. There is where NATO enters the conversation. Some consider that after the fall of the Soviet Union, NATO should had disappear. But it didn’t and the relatively bad relation between America and Russia are in great part due to NATO expansion in former communists countries which Moscow consider part of their area of influence. The annexation of Crimea is maybe the greatest point in this chess played by Putin as a form of counter the influence of America and Europe in Ukraine.

Trump own visions of NATO probably are the most revealing aspect of his unorthodox foreign policy. He initially went as far as suggesting that the US should withdraw from NATO. Those who accuse Trump of being just a demagogue that would do anything to appease the Republican base never knew how to answer while someone who is running as a Republican would make such a polemic statement, considering that while respected by part of the conservative base both Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul where defeated in the primaries. Not only that, while he now maintains that he is saying that he wants NATO members to pay their fair share to be defended by the US, he could easily had say that he was misunderstood like when early in his campaign he was in favor of Syrian refugees but then he wanted to deport them. However the level of criticism of NATO for GOP and Democratic insiders always consider any question about unforgeable especially after its latest comments doubting if the US would defend its Eastern European allies against a threat from Russia. To the point that even some Democrats think that Trump is a Manchurian candidate of Moscow, the campaign manager of the Clinton, Robby Mook goes as far to suggesting the Russian government was involve in the DNCleaks which goal was to help elect Donald Trump even if until now there is not tangible evidence of that.

One recurrent topic in his campaign is the America First slogan. While used by isolationists in the past and most recently revived by the campaigns of Pat Buchanan. Jesse Walker of Reason had pointed out referring to his foreign policy speech that Trump is an instinctive nationalist which explains why he could sound hawkish at times when talking of the Middle East and dovish when talking of Eastern Europe. While some think that here was a hint of Buchanism in his acceptance speech at the convention when he goes as far as saying that this election was “Americanism over globalism”, an important point to be made is that Trump started his political career considering running against Buchanan in the Reform Party primaries and while Buchanan endorsed him early on the campaign, Trump doesn’t speak of Pat and neither invite him to convention despite the lack of prominent speakers. The populist nationalism of Trump is right-wing like Buchanan but is not anti-imperialist. Buchanan thought that after the end of the Cold War, the tradition of Old Right anti-interventionism should be revived. That’s why Buchanism and Trumpism collide especially in the Middle East where Trump still wants an active presence.

There are several accusations by liberals that Trump is a fascist but other point that is made is that if elected he would be closer to Berlusconi. Is funny that beside that phrase there had been not much insight because while the political party of Berlusconi, Forza Italia, was somehow in the right it was ideologically broadly enough to include socialdemocrats which the GOP consider an anathema to conservativism. But Berlusconi was close to both Russia and Israel, two of the main alleged future allies of Trump. But I really doubt that beyond of that they would had that much in common.

Israel is an open question. Trump initially sounded neutral. He then was backed by longtime supporters of Israel like Sheldon Adelson who may explain why his visions had started to shift and his relation with a pro- Israel businessman like his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Now he started he sounds as hawkish on the issue as any neocon.  Trump was proud of the Republican platform which he considers: “the most pro-Israel of all time”. Some consider that his supporters are anti-Semites and that Trump itself is anti-Semite despite having a Jewish daughter but that hasn’t weak the support among some Israel hardliners.

The Middle East in general looks more dubious because there is where he for moments sound hawkish but at the same time breaks with the neocon orthodoxy. He seems having no interest in democracy promotion while calling to fight against radical Islamic extremism. He’s against the Iran deal and doesn’t want to speak about Turkey. Saudi Arabia is a curious case while Trump is critic of Saudi Arabia at the same time he would not be like a president who would go to accuse continuously the country for its human rights abuses and maybe their share hate for Iran could make both work together on some issues.

While Trump talks about he wanted to be unpredictable and dealmaker with all the world, he started his campaign by railing against Mexican immigrants and accusing the Mexican government of sending criminals to America. Mexico has been a reliable American ally and alienate them in that form was a truly mistake. Trump would risk having bad relations with the broad Latin America. It wouldn’t surprise me that if elected, presidents of the region would try to avoid him. Even the Latin American right who generally is pro-American is deeply anger with Trump and his campaign.

On Asia, he wants to withdraw militarily while accusing China of currency manipulation. Wants Japan and South Korea to defend itself. He doesn’t sound to care about the destiny of Taiwan or Hong Kong and the Chinese influence in the region or any elaborate thoughts on the South China Sea controversy. East Asia is where strategic thought is needed but that is the area of which Trump knows nothing. Being the geographical region where the Obama seems to having being successful with important advances improving the relations with Southeast Asian countries which geopolitically could limit Chinese influence overseas.

In general we could say that Trump is neither an isolationist, anti-interventionist, realist, liberal interventionist nor neoconservative because is impossible to put Trump in a mold. But foreign policy is actually where he is not as unpredictable as in other policy areas. It would be difficult to find him speaking ill of Russia and Israel. The question of who is more hawkish Trump or Hillary is hard to answer since Clinton is more hawkish on Russia but on some issues like the Iran Deal she is able to take a realist position. However to credit of Trump he had taken some risks in being critical of NATO something not even Sanders did. Despite that if one reads the GOP platform the foreign policy in the Republican Party is still managed by the neoconservative wing of the party and his victory speech he basically accused all problems of America to Hillary Clinton despite that if something the GOP had been more active bad decisions overseas. Trump’s foreign policy is in the making and we could expect surprises on the way but I tend to suspect that while he is skeptic of globalism, once in office the GOP establishment could push him in a more mainstream hawkish line.

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Civil War 2.0 Will Be Livestreamed

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

The events of this summer are a taste of what’s to come in the fall, and even more so, November 9, 2016.

Someone is going to win the Presidential election, and regardless of whether it’s Trump or Clinton, the loser’s supporters are going to feel existential angst about America, and their place in it, far beyond the usual.

Pat Buchanan advises us to take a Chill Pill; “For when a real powder keg blew in the ’60s, I was there. And this is not it.” And yet…in “The ’60s” (and the early ’70s, which is when some of the worst SHTF) we had the evening TV news and the papers. The crazy spread slower then. This time, any and every incident is going to be magnified and extremely accelerated. (more…)

Being an unhappy warrior

To burn it down, or not burn it down–that is the question. And increasingly, against my better nature, I’m starting to think the answer is incendiarism.

Why my flirtation with unbridled anger? It’s simple, really: Elite contempt for the hoi polloi has reached a fever pitch. Consider events over the past few weeks.

After much hand-wringing, the Brexit vote failed to topple the world economy. But that hasn’t stopped the elites from expressing their disdain over the little people taking back their borders. In a scathing piece for Foreign Policy titled “It’s Time for the Elites to Rise Up Against the Ignorant Masses,” writer James Traub openly calls for the crushing of the working class. “One of the most brazen features of the Brexit vote was the utter repudiation of the bankers and economists and Western heads of state who warned voters against the dangers of a split with the European Union,” Traub, the son of the former chairman of Bloomingdale’s, says sorrowfully.

Emily Badger of The Washington Post concurs, writing “Brexit is a reminder that some things just shouldn’t be decided by referendum.” Columnists and opiners in a variety of publications have taken turns denouncing the small-minded Leave voters, each employing clever metaphors to say the same thing: The people are too stupid for politics.

The contempt is not dissimilar to the bitchfest that is Trump opposition. Not content to take potshots at Teflon Donald, some smug critics have taken to excoriating his pea-brained supporters. Jonathan Chait of New York magazine explained Trump phenomenology by surmising, “The Republican Party turns out to be filled with idiots. Far more of them than anybody expected.” National Review’s Kevin Williamson infamously referred to wage-class Trumpites as white trash so trashy it doesn’t deserve to be picked up. “The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible,” he pronounced, with the grace of a utilitarian Maoist.

And you wonder why middle-of-the-road Americans are so damn angry. In the face of such open mockery, why shouldn’t they be? The coastal high-earners take great pleasure in ridiculing Flyover country, which is largely comprised of red state Bible-believers.

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Johnson’s Rise and Imminent Fall

Gary Johnson is a dimwit and the Libertarian Party once again proved its uselessness by nominating him as its presidential nominee.

That’s the premise of my latest Takimag article. An excerpt:

Polls right now show that Johnson could potentially steal support from both Clinton and Trump. But we’re still six months away from the general election. Last go-around, Johnson was polling at the same place he is now. In the spring of 2012, the governor, when included on the list of preferred candidates, came in around 7%. How did he do that November? A measly 1.2% of the electorate picked Johnson over Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.

Not exactly a libertarian moment. And I’d bet a few slips of fiat currency that this fall will play out much in the same way. As the election nears and the stakes become more real, voters will make a choice between the two most viable options. The choice won’t be based on reason, compassion, or logic. It will be one of fear and disgust—the necessary ingredients of politics.

But supposing that America’s electoral system didn’t systematically make third parties irrelevant, the Johnson campaign would still be dead in the water. That’s because the candidate is a dopey ignoramus in a party full of punky agitators, drug users, cerebral loners, and just plain loons.

Read the whole thing here, and remember that only American-hating losers vote for the LP.

Michelle Fields and Michael Brown, a rush to judgment

What do former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields and former Ferguson thug Michael Brown have in common?

Their supporters loathe and despise Donald Trump.

OK, that was too easy. Let’s try again: What commonality exists between Fields and convenience store-tosser Brown?

Answer: The rash judgment immediately following their national exposure.

Nearly two years ago, the country was engulfed in the sad, sorry saga of Michael Brown. Shot dead in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, Brown became the poster boy for police brutality against blacks. Brown’s body was still warm on the pavement when the media went into berserk mode, charging Officer Darren Wilson with murder and maligning the entire police force as inveterate racists.

The story fit the progressive narrative: Brown was an unarmed black teeanger gunned down by a white cop. A few conservative voices called for calm as the details were sorted out. Rep. Paul Ryan (now Speaker of the House) warned the public not to “jump to prejudging conclusions before evidence is in.”

Their warnings were prescient: President Obama’s Department of Justice declined to charge Officer Wilson. The law-enforcement agency, which was headed by race-baiter Eric Holder, could not disprove Wilson’s claim that he was acting in self-defense at the time he killed Brown.

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Time of coalitions

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These are strange times in American politics with outsiders like Trump and Sanders gaining momentum. Jeb Bush is out and Super Tuesday could complicate Hillary Clinton. How does it happen? Lefties try to blame everything on neoliberalism but the editorial of The American Conservative says that these ideology is dying. Sanders is un-reconstructed New Deal liberal who calls himself a socialist while Trump is more heterodox probably could be defined as an anti-immigrant moderate. Despite ideology, coalitions would be build thinking in November. Let’s have fun and try to guess.

The Trump Coalition. Last week big news was the endorsement of moderate governor like Chris Christie, but more recently his refusal to disavow white nationalist David Duke has been making reactions both on liberals and conservatives that think is naïve to believe that Trump doesn’t know who is David Duke and what is the Ku Klux Klan. Trump has an appeal on the former supporters of Pat Buchanan, white working class rural Americans but also on certain moderates attracted to a “Dealmaker”, he is even doing well by some polls among Hispanic Republicans. The endorsement of Jane Brewer is very significant, she was a hardliner on immigration and a supporter of Obamacare. In the general election some predict he could gain some independents and if Hillary wins maybe even some Bernie supporters. But if Sanders wins, The Donald would had a hard time, is difficult to be more anti-establishment than an old Jewish socialist.

The racist supporters of Trump coalition add to the rhetoric of its leader could alienate minority voters. The big government plans could scare libertarians. His distrust in foreign interventionism is making neocons panicking. Certainly a candidate with loyal followers and hateful enemies.

The Clinton Coalition. The victory in South Carolina shows that Hillary is strong among African-American community, but Latinos are divided and white progressives are feeling the Bern. Ideologically she is pushing her feminism in search woman voters but may not work after Steinem embracement. She was trying to focus in domestic issues rather than in foreign policy where her hawkishness is out of touch with the mostly dovish Democratic base but Bernie made some punches with her on the matter of having a War Criminal like Henry Kissinger as adviser. Neocons like her and in the case of a Trump victory in the Republican primaries they would support her.

A lot of progressives see her ties to Wall Street as distrustful. A Jewish progressive feminist like Jill Stein running as Green Party candidate could made the things difficult for Hillary and some Sanders supporters had even pledge to not support Hillary in November.

The Anti-Trump Coalition. Donors and party insiders would like us to believe that these is really strong coalition, capable of defeat the populist Trump. But I think that is too late for that, Trump is going to be the nominee. Some are trying to go third party, more explicitly a neocon third party. I wonder how much support it could get. The neocon candidate of the primary was Lindsay Graham who’s polling was an embarrassment, it’s true that candidates like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio were also neocons but their appeal was not necessarily their foreign policy. The position of Trump about Israel is quite interesting, he says he would be neutral on Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Probably some might try to portray him as an anti-Semite but that due to his close ties with Israel that would be hard. The question of a VP could be crucial if neocons are able put one of their own in that position, however Trump has shown he is independent minded and don’t want to be push by anyone.

Some Republican congressman and maybe even some former Presidential candidates could refuse to endorse Trump. Probably even the Bush family would reject The Donald. There had been talks about the future of George P. Bush who currently holds office in Texas but if he decides to endorse Trump, he might have problems in a future, living in a state were Latinos are becoming the majority. Texas is a state where the GOP had been able to gain an important share of the Latino vote but some may find Trump too divisive to support him and emigrate to the Democratic Party. Is very difficult that George W. Bush difficult would support Trump after he accuse him of being responsible of 9/11. That a former GOP president would refuse to endorse a nominee of his own party could be signal of the end of an era.

The Sanders Coalition. While initially he was accused of attracting only male white progressives. He now is leading with young woman and making waves among the Latino community. The endorsements of current congressman are quite diverse ethnically and religiously with Keith Ellison, Raúl Grijalva, Tulsi Gabbard and Peter Welch. The endorsement of Gabbard is particularly interesting because she is of Samoan descent and of Hindu faith. She is not a progressive even by the heterodox American standards having express doubts of the Iran deal and being in the past praised by neocons, however she is the face of shifting demographic.

Some say a Sanders versus Trump race would be socialism versus fascism. America probably will choose socialism, a fascist like FDR had already been elected and even praised by Bernie. If the neocons fail go get a third party a choice between Sanders and The Donald would be tough. On the one hand, Bernie had embrace Military-Industrial Complex, especially wasteful F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin which are assembled in Vermont and Trump is unpredictable, could the neocons join hands with their comrades of the Fourth International, that would been fun to watch. The same reason that maybe even some neocons feel the Bern is the one who scare progressives, Bernie says he is socialist but on foreign policy he has embraced military Keynesianism, that’s why some progressives still if he is Democratic nominee would back Jill Stein in November.