The gladiatorial contests for presidential nominees are drawing to a close, barring a Republican convention coup in July, and foreign policy positions are now becoming somewhat clearer
With Clinton and Sanders the positions have been pretty consistent and in opposition, Clinton being by far the war hawk not just recently, but also historically. She favoured the invasion of Iraq; she was one of the architects of another failure, intervention in Libya and overthrow of Gaddafi, and despite the chaos that has followed, continues to defend her role in the disaster. She talks tough on ISIS and makes vague meaningless noises about sorting out Syria and Iraq. She talks about arming regional powers, embedding US troops with local forces for training purposes as if their role, like that of Obama’s latest move, would be limited to training. Against advice from military pundits, she continues to propose a no-fly zone but ISIS has no aircraft so who would be excluded – Russia, the most effective air attack force, the US or Syria?
I wonder if she feels that being a woman, she must talk tough to prove she would be as tough as a male President?
Oddly enough, yesterday, we heard a bit more sense from the Republican front-runner.
Yesterday, Trump gave a relatively well-reasoned foreign policy speech that was roundly condemned by fellow Republicans, in particular, by Senator Lindsay Graham, a high flying hawk and neo-con. What Trump lacked was cohesiveness, a good speech writer and editor. Although there were contradictions in his speech, many of Trump’s foreign policy positions are actually much more palpable than either those of Clinton or any of the mainline Republican establishment. One of the reasons that Republican hard liners such as Graham and John McCain oppose Trump is because his policies run almost diametrically opossed to their neo con views. Their policies are confrontational, not accommodation and cooperation; war being the solution to all differences. Their policy would continue to propound American Exceptionalism and promote US global hegemony. There was some of this with regard to China from Trump but not so aggressive in tone as that of the Republican right wing.
Among Trump’s more commendable foreign policy positions, anathema to the present policy and that of Clinton, is Russia. He proposes damping down the irrational anti-Putin, anti-Russia rhetoric and recognise that Russia also has security concerns. This would be a big step toward preventing a new cold war. Then, we hear more contradictions. He does not favour spreading universal values (good) but talks about promoting Western civilisation around the world (bad); he seemingly does not look to war to resolve all differences and does not favour nation building (good) but he wants to increase an already bloated Defence budget and continue catering to the US military (very bad). More bad: He is too pro Israel and too anti-Iran and like all the other candidates, Republican and Democrat, he has no coherent policy for dealing with ISIS nor did he mention the short fuse on the Turkish-Kurdish powder keg or Iraq except to say the Iraqi invasion was a mistake.
In other words, his speech was a mixed bag, It seemed he was trying to throw a bone to everyone but still not as hawkish as Clinton.
Categories:US Foreign Policy