On Foreign Policy

by Anthony Passalacqua (CE ’18)

Mr. Trump’s plan on ISIL is relatively straight-forward,
it goes like this: “if you kill your enemies, they lose.”

I have written previously on nationalism and isolationism, and in that vein, I continue today with Trump’s planned foreign policy. A nationalistic foreign policy, in general, can be summed up as one which uses a country’s resources—especially militarily—for only the direct benefit of the country.

For the United States, this broadly means that we should no longer police the world. Americans have intervened abroad since the Second World War, in various wars and actions both justifiable and unjustifiable. From the perspective of a nationalist policy, the majority of those actions would have been unjustifiable were it not for the looming presence of an explicitly unfriendly nuclear power, the USSR. That power, if you’re behind on the news, is now known as the Russian Federation. We will return to Russia later—noting for now that what is important here is that we intervene when there is a state explicitly unfriendly towards us.

In today’s world, that entity would be the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. ISIL seeks to draw the West into an ‘apocalyptic’ holy war. While one normally wants to avoid giving their enemies what they want, it seems pragmatic in this case to give ISIL exactly what they want. Everyone agrees on that point on both sides of the isle; what differs is how to get it done.

Mr. Trump has been quoted as saying he would “bomb the hell out of ISIS.” Ultimately, this is the only military action he has ever called for during his campaign. In the past, he was famously against Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As for Hillary Clinton, she wants to “establish a no fly zone” over Syria. We will quickly break down the implication of these two plans.

Mr. Trump’s plan on ISIL is relatively straight-forward, it goes like this: “if you kill your enemies, they lose.” Such a plan is likely to be very safe for any Americans involved, and offers us a chance to work with the aforementioned Russia.

Our relationship with Russia has suffered greatly in the last decade–and–a–half, both because of economic sanctions placed upon them, and our unwillingness to work with them on nuclear policy. In 2002, the United States pulled out of a nuclear treaty and began to work on previously banned missile defense systems telling Russia, “these aren’t for you, don’t worry.” In response, Russia began, due to their economic situation, to work on stronger offensive missile systems, which “aren’t for America, don’t worry.” It seems to follow that we would like to improve our relationship with a huge economic and military power like Russia.

`On the flip side, Hillary Clinton’s policy on Syria will actively deteriorate our situation with Russia. Russia is good friends with the current government of Syria, so establishing a no-fly zone over Syria would mean that we would have to be willing to keep Russian jets out of Syrian airspace. Effectively, this means that we would have to engage in combat with Russian military forces, were we to go down that path. It’s clear that this is an easy pathway to an open war with Russia—which is no more than a hop, skip, and a jump away from a nuclear exchange. This is by far the single most important foreign policy point that either candidate has publicly put forward. A Hillary Clinton presidency, perhaps, means war with Russia.

Putting that aside, the rest of the Mr. Trump’s foreign policy is very straightforward. For example, our allies have to pay their fair share into NATO, otherwise we have no reason to be part of NATO. Speaking of, one of the reasons that NATO is useful is because it provides a huge, extremely powerful bloc that no one can see themselves opposing. Donald Trump believes that the United States should be that type of bloc all on its own. Instead of spending our military budget on programs like the F-35 fighter jet, we can instead spend it on growing our strength in more concrete ways. It is the old peace–through–superior–firepower approach and seeks to gather more respect from both allies and enemies by being a titan of war.

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