Foreign policy is one of few places where a U.S. president has wide latitude to make a strong imprint. It is the responsibility of the president to develop, and with the help of the secretary of state, execute the strategies to project and safeguard national interests.
Hillary Clinton’s ideas and perspectives have been on display during the four years she served as Barack Obama’s Secretary of State.
Wednesday we got our first glimpse of how Donald Trump would shape foreign policy if elected president. He’s dropped clues throughout the campaign, such as being tougher China regarding trade, making Mexico pay for a border wall, calling NATO “obsolete” and “bomb the (expletive)” out of Islamic State. His speech to the Center for the National Interest knitted many of these themes together into a more cohesive form.
Supporters say Trump has changed his tone, laying out a vision for America that challenges the status quo. Critics say he’s re-packaged his ideas and question where he’s getting his foreign policy advice.
Trump’s Bumper Sticker Speech
Paul Pillar – The National interest
There are, perhaps most obviously, blatant contradictions and inconsistencies. In this speech, for example, Trump described earlier Cold War years as a sort of golden age of American foreign policy but also disavowed participation in the type of international institutions that were a major and even indispensable part of U.S. policy during those years….
Another common pattern has been excoriation of an incumbent while saying and recommending many of the same things that the incumbent is saying and doing….Trump’s hopeful remarks about relations with Russia sounded a lot like the Obama administration’s “reset” of that relationship…. Trump’s comments about allies not paying their fair share was a paraphrase of what Obama has said about free riders.
5 Good Points Trump Made in His Foreign Policy Speech
Liz Peek – The Fiscal Times
Donald Trump gave a grown-up foreign policy speech yesterday, which was of course immediately dismissed as contradictory and insubstantial. And yet, much of his address made sense. Most significant, perhaps, is that Trump buttoned up his bluster, used a Teleprompter and stayed on script, showing that he can indeed polish up his image. Good for him – he didn’t call Putin a thug, or criticize Angela Merkel’s face. Notwithstanding his unusual restraint, Trump was blasted for inconsistencies in his address.
Trump Nails GOP Foreign Policy Impulses
Jonathan Allen – Roll Call
I don’t agree with his worldview, but to dismiss it as outside the mainstream of Republican foreign policy thinking is to ignore two truths: The concept of peace through strength is Republican orthodoxy and withdrawal from international organizations, wariness of war and scrapping trade pacts all appeal to the Trump Republican voters who feel that the Washington GOP establishment is too internationalist….
But if Trump was incoherent, as many of his detractors suggested on Wednesday, it is because the party isn’t unified on the subject. Trump is hardly a foreign policy expert — and anyone can read a speech written by someone else — but, to his credit, he’s at least listening to both wings of the party and trying to bring them together.
Washington elites mock Trump for mispronouncing Tanzania. They don't get it. He said the most important word correctly: America. He gets it.— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) April 27, 2016
Donald Trump’s Strange Worldview
Editorial Board – The New York Times
When one has a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And when one’s experience is limited to real estate deals, everything looks like a lease negotiation. Hearing Mr. Trump describe his approach to foreign relations, one imagines a group of nations sitting at a table with him at its head, rather like a scene from “The Apprentice,” with him demanding more money, more troops and policy changes in exchange for American protection, trade and friendship. And if he doesn’t get what he wants? “In negotiation, you must be willing to walk,” Mr. Trump said.
This unilateral approach makes for good television, but this is the real world, in which other nations have agendas, too.
Trump is helping himself a lot with this speech. It will resonate well with a lot of traditional peace through strength Republicans.— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) April 27, 2016
Why I Hosted Trump’s Foreign Policy Speech
Jacob Heilbrunn – Politico
I was curious as anyone to see what Trump would actually say. All I heard was that Trump himself was going over the speech even as he was flying in on his airplane to Washington. How far would he go in attacking President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? And how far would he go in embracing foreign policy realism—the doctrine that America has to husband its resources and be careful about intervention abroad?
Would a new Trump be revealed?
In fact there was no new Trump.
Trump’s Foreign Policy Speech
Daniel Larison – The American Conservative
There were some good elements in it, but on the whole it didn’t make a lot of sense.
Trump emphasized some of the right things in his speech. He stressed that American interests should take priority, and made a straightforward appeal for a foreign policy that puts the interests of the American people first. He also said that America shouldn’t go abroad in search of enemies. That was presumably a nod to John Quincy Adams without directly quoting him.
Trump denounced the nuclear deal with Iran again and falsely claimed that “we watched them ignore its terms, even before the ink was dry.” In fact, Iran has been complying with the terms of the deal, and has already shipped out its stockpile of low-enriched uranium in a major win for U.S.-led nonproliferation efforts. It is typical of Trump’s view of the world that he cannot even acknowledge a significant U.S. foreign policy success despite his fixation on the need to win.