COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, April 27, 2016 – Minutes after Republican candidate Donald Trump’s foreign policy speech ended, CNN’s commentator Farid Zakaria was pronouncing it “rambling” and “repetitive.” Zakaria, Indian-born, educated at Harvard and conservative, clearly missed the point.
Trump did underscore the importance of a bipartisan agreement on an “America First/America Strong” policy for future foreign policy judgements. But this hardly supports Zakaria’s criticism.
Trump’s speech was a reasoned, conciliatory-through-strength articulation of a new American century. Nearly every aspect of America’s role in the world, economic, trade, and military, was addressed. Trump did not run away from Western values, preferring instead to embrace them, tout them, and, without nation building, share them with a troubled world.
He would use caution, he said, as to whom to help and arm, as opposed to arming questionable players in the hope things work out. Trump was especially critical of President Obama’s and former Secretary Clinton’s “disjointed, unproductive” foreign policies.
To support Trump’s positions, it might be recalled that President Obama gave the cold shoulder to the young people’s “Green Revolution” in Iran, as they marched in Tehran to demand a more reasonable, secular government. As the religious mullahs re-imposed their authoritarian rule, America’s opportunity to support a saner and more responsive-to-America Iran was missed.
One may also recall the case of the Kurds, arguably the most effective and determined indigenous fighting force today in the Middle East. After ignoring them, President Obama sent weapons intended for them through Baghdad, subjecting them to Iraqi government confiscation.
Trump’s speech, while not naming the Kurds specifically, at least gave a policy nod to arming those who truly are our friends. In this, the young Iranians and the Kurdish nation qualify in spades.
Candidate Trump did cite the plight of Middle East Christians who have come under horrendous attack without getting U.S. support. A Trump presidency, he said, would carefully sift through the myriad of players around the Middle East with a view toward promoting America’s interests and international stability.
Globalism came under attack as well by Trump. He seeks to separate such coalescing deals from global warming and any misplaced United States altruistic nation building. Instead, a President Trump would keep an eye on the goals and objectives aimed at building and maintaining a strong America.
At the same time, Trump made clear his would not be an isolationist stance. He would be prepared to get up from negotiating tables, preferring instead to deal from strength, not show America’s hand, and rely on the element of enlightened surprise as his strategies.
Donald Trump the candidate has grown up to become Donald Trump the presumptive nominee. Now, with that maturation, he needs to set aside that Twitter account.
People who have been aware of Mr. Trump over the years tell stories about his long-standing and cogent thoughts on America’s role in the world. Now, with his quiet selection of experienced and like-minded “America First” individuals, the Trump presidency is beginning to gain its sea legs. His latest speech was far from a rambling speech, as Zakaria incorrectly opined. Rather, it was a re-set on American foreign policy that has long been needed, and one that promises measured course corrections aimed at addressing the realities of an increasingly dangerous world.
Donald Trump’s plain spoken New Yorker persona today took a back seat to the Donald Trump who has spent time in his luxury penthouse den with his books and thoughts. The quiet Trump is now being revealed.
Donald Trump is gathering a unique team of policy advisors around his campaign. In his speech today, he eschewed “the establishment suits,” his term for those same old Washington foreign policy hacks whose paw prints are all over America’s failed foreign policies to date.