Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump vowed to undo the many foreign policy and national security failures of President Obama, along with the persistent sense of American impotence in the face of international challenges, in an important, muscular speech yesterday, outlining what a Trump administration would do in office.
A one-man wrecking crew who has been demolishing politically-correct pieties since he launched his campaign last year with a call to arms against illegal immigration, Trump announced that the foreign policy administered by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry that has emboldened Islamic terror has been catastrophic not just for America but for the whole world.
In an address to the Center for the National Interest founded by the late President Richard Nixon, Trump promised to put America first and make it strong again. He slammed the Obama administration for strengthening our enemies, belittling our allies, and diminishing respect around the world for the United States. One of the most prominent themes Trump advanced was Obama's projection of pathetic weakness, including his downsizing of the military, which has led to the rise of Islamic State and fueled Middle East chaos. As Trump put it, “If President Obama’s goal had been to weaken America, he could not have done a better job.”
Weakening the country, of course, has long been the goal of the Radical-in-Chief now occupying the Oval Office. Obama and his radical pals Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Rashid Khalidi, Valerie Jarrett, Frank Marshall Davis, and a huge chorus of America-haters have spent their lives fostering American weakness. Weakness leads to losing, but Trump stated that he wants America to start winning again. This will happen not only by refocusing our foreign policy on strictly serving American interests, but also by vocally defending America's international role and American ideals on the global stage. "I will view as president the world through the clear lens of American interests," Trump affirmed. "I will be America's greatest defender and most loyal champion. We will not apologize for becoming successful again, but will instead embrace the unique heritage that makes us who we are."
Central in Trump's speech was criticizing what has become the modus operandi of the Obama foreign policy era: extending aid and comfort to our enemies while treating our friends with enmity. As a result, America's enemies don't fear us and our allies don't trust us.
"Our friends are beginning to think they can't depend on us," Trump said. "We've had a president who dislikes our friends and bows to our enemies, something that we've never seen before in the history of our country."
For example, Obama has allowed Communist China "to steal government secrets with cyber attacks and engage in industrial espionage against the United States and its companies."
Most notably, Obama has treated Iran "with tender love and care" that has made it "a great power ... in just a very short period of time," while at the same time snubbing and criticizing Israel, "our great friend and the one true democracy in the Middle East."
Obama "negotiated a disastrous deal with Iran, and then we watched them ignore its terms even before the ink was dry." As president, Trump stated that he would "never, ever" allow Iran to possess a nuclear weapon. The Iranian threat will be the defining threat of this generation thanks primarily to Obama's appeasement-at-any-price outreach to the Iranian mullahs, which has set the stage for military confrontation. The next administration will have to contend with this as the foremost threat to America and our allies, and Trump made clear that his eyes are open on the severity of this coming conflict.
Trump also targeted Hillary Clinton. Like Obama, the former Secretary of State, now the Democratic Party's frontrunner, can't bring herself to name America's foremost enemy -- radical Islam -- even as she "pushes for a massive increase in refugees coming into our country," Trump said. "Unless you name the enemy, you will never ever solve the problem," he affirmed a speech in that compared the nation's fight against Islamic Jihad to the struggle against communism during the Cold War.
Radical Islam must be fought abroad as well as inside America, Trump declared.
"There are scores of recent migrants inside our borders charged with terrorism. For every case known to the public, there are dozens and dozens more. We must stop importing extremism through senseless immigration policies. We have no idea where these people are coming from. There's no documentation, There's no paperwork. There's nothing. We have to be smart. We have to be vigilant."
Trump also had a simple message for the Islamic State, stressing the importance of deception against the enemy in conflict, a tactic clearly missing in Obama's foreign policy:
"Their days are numbered. I won't tell them where and I won't tell them how. We must as a nation be more unpredictable. We are totally predictable. We tell everything. We're sending troops. We tell them. We're sending something else. We have a news conference. We have to be unpredictable. And we have to be unpredictable starting now. But they're going to be gone. ISIS will be gone if I'm elected president. And they'll be gone quickly."
Trump also slammed Clinton for her "failed intervention in Libya, [after which] Islamic terrorists in Benghazi took down our consulate and killed our ambassador and three brave Americans. Then, instead of taking charge that night, Hillary Clinton decided to go home and sleep." To make matter worse, Clinton blamed "it all on a video, an excuse that was a total lie, proven to be absolutely a total lie."
The Republican presidential frontrunner continued by stressing the positives of America. The U.S., in his view, is:
"a humanitarian nation, but the legacy of the Obama-Clinton interventions will be weakness, confusion, and disarray. A mess. We've made the Middle East more unstable and chaotic than ever before. We left Christians subject to intense persecution and even genocide. We have done nothing to help the Christians, nothing, and we should always be ashamed for that, for that lack of action."
Trump also criticized the "dangerous" neo-conservative effort to democratize the world, and argued for a kind of old-fashioned conservatism, seemingly for modest foreign policy goals and stability. “We are getting out of the nation-building business, and instead focusing on creating stability in the world,” he said.
The reassuring clarifications that Trump offered about his foreign policy views should be a step towards satisfying some of his conservative critics. The speech was a strong beginning in that direction but it also contained some statements that would definitely concern a portion of the conservative camp. Trump, for instance, suggested that the U.S. should be prepared to exit NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Many conservatives wouldn't see a problem with pointing out NATO's problems and how America is being taken advantage of by member nations that aren't paying their fair share, but they would certainly question how threatening the end of NATO complements Trump's objective of making America a strong military presence in the world. NATO has been a key element of global security and it is usually isolationists and leftists, not conservatives, who want to abolish NATO.
Trump also continued to preach the gospel of economic nationalism, with its tariffs and trade wars that many conservatives would argue benefit entrenched interests while soaking American consumers and generating economic depressions and recessions. He spoke of "the theft of American jobs" and characterized NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, as "a total disaster for the United States." He also struck a familiar refrain complaining about the loss of manufacturing jobs in states like Pennsylvania and New York, which many conservatives would argue were lost not because some big, mean bully took them away, but because manufacturing tends not to be a cost-effective endeavor in the U.S.
Trump's address comes after his big night Tuesday in which he decisively won Republican primaries in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. He now has 987 of the 1,237 delegates he needs for a first-ballot victory at this summer's GOP nominating convention in Cleveland, according to Real Clear Politics (at time of this writing). His rivals are far behind with Ted Cruz at 562, John Kasich at 153, and Marco Rubio, who suspended his campaign, at 171 delegates.
And Trump's support among many Republican voters appears to be solidifying. According to the NBC News/Survey Monkey weekly tracking poll unveiled Tuesday, Trump now enjoys 50 percent support among Republicans and Republican-leaners nationally for the first time since the poll was launched in December. Cruz and Kasich are both well behind the New York businessman with 26 percent and 17 percent, respectively.
Time will tell if Donald Trump succeeds in his present ambition and will, eventually, stand the test of implementing the foreign policy he has proposed for America.