So before I hose the RNC slime out of my brain in preparation for bashing the Democrats this week, I want to focus on what must be on the dumbest and most dangerous things Trump has said so far.
He even called into question whether, as president, he would automatically extend the security guarantees that give the 28 members of NATO the assurance that the full force of the United States military has their back.
For example, asked about Russia’s threatening activities that have unnerved the small Baltic States that are among the more recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing whether those nations “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”
Hot Air has the full transcript of the interview and this is not a misquote. Trump says he doesn’t want Putin to know what he’d do and then waffles on defending NATO nations that haven’t “paid their bills” (which is rich, coming from a man who has routinely stiffed contractors). The issue of NATO nations contributing more to their defense is legitimate; waffling on whether we would defend them if attacked is … not.
Trump defenders are saying he would defend the Baltics since they are up to date. But Gingrich said the Baltics weren’t worth a war. And the Trump defenders are ignoring the biggest problem with Trump’s remarks: it’s not about whether he would defend the Baltic or not; it’s about the uncertainty he is creating in a volatile region.
I have no idea how to convey the enormity of Trump's NATO comments to readers. They literally make World War III more likely.
— Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp) July 21, 2016
Trump has done this repeatedly on foreign policy, refusing to give straight answers to straight questions because, he says, he wants to be “unpredictable”.
“Unpredictability” is a good thing if you’re the Offensive Coordinator for Ohio State. It’s a bad thing in foreign policy. It’s a very bad thing. Because uncertainty about the US’s intentions and actions encourages bad actors to act badly. It encourages aggressors to test our resolve. Many of the bloodiest conflicts of the Cold War erupted because the Communists didn’t know if we’d support our allies.
Morrissey again, from the link above:
This kind of talk from prospective Commanders-in-Chief is no mere academic or political exercise; it’s actively dangerous. In fact, one needs no better example than the fumbled diplomacy of the George H. W. Bush administration in regard to Kuwait and Iraq, and that didn’t even involve Bush directly. As Hussein built up forces along the Kuwait border in the summer of 1990, the Bush administration seemed to go out of its way to express its indifference.
All of the incentives for Putin are set up for another “liberating” action, except for the fact that the US has pledged to act to defend the Baltic states militarily. One can argue that Putin’s expansionism has been set in motion in part through the vacillation and incompetence of the Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton “reset” policies with Russia and doubts about Obama’s intestinal fortitude after the Syrian “red line” retreat. But at least Obama has never publicly suggested that we would fail to honor Article V in Europe itself.
Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia have already done quite a bit for us lately. Anyone aspiring to lead the US shouldn’t have to have that, or the ramifications of a retreat from Article V, explained to them on the campaign trail.
We want the world to know what we will do. We want them to know we will defend our allies. We want them to know we will respond when attacked. We want them to know that we will not tolerate bald aggression. We want the response of the world’s most powerful nation to be as predictable as the sun rising in the East. Because that keeps bad actors at bay. If aggressive leaders know that our response will be quick, decisive and overwhelming, that makes them far less likely to challenge us.
We know this. Republicans know this. If Hillary Clinton or John Kerry or Barack Obama had said anything like this, the Right would be going apeshit (and, to be fair, many conservatives like Morrissey are).
This is what I mean when I say that Trump could start a war by accident. It’s not just that he’s inexperienced and ignorant; it’s that he’s shown absolutely no interest in becoming unignorant. Trump has been running for President for a year and been the presumptive nominee for months. He should know more about these issues than … well … than I do.
This problem is only going to propagate. This week, we are going to see the DNC roll out one of the most breathtakingly socialistic platforms we have ever seen from a major candidate: public option, expanded Medicare, expanded Medicaid, “free” college, $15 minimum wage, “free” daycare, “free” pre-K, expanded Social Security. It is possible to turn the public against a candidate offering them a boatload of free stuff. But it takes skill and knowledge. I have seen little evidence that Trump has either. It would not surprise me at all if, in the debate, he went ahead and ceded major portions of the DNC’s agenda.
So … as I keep saying, here we are. Two leftists vying to see whether they can bankrupt us before the next great war. Charming.
Post Scriptum: Trump’s comments, in combination with a possible Russian role in the hacking of the DNC’s e-mails, has lead to conspiracy theories that Trump is a Russian stooge. I find these theories … far-fetched to say the least. Trump is many things but he’s not a traitor.