Apart from Donald Trump's massive faults, (and they are massive, numerous, and deserve non-stop condemnation) he is often articulating a relatively sensible approach to U.S. foreign policy. From his opposition to "nation building" in far-flung corners of the world to opposing dumb wars like the 2003 Iraq War, Trump is siding with many scholars and policy analysts who have explained that the United States would be better off with a foreign policy that is less interventionist, less costly, less hypocritical, less beholden to special interests, and above all more successful than the strategy of Western hegemony pursed by the past three U.S. administrations.
They only problem is that he is Donald Trump and instead of having an instructive and long-over due debate about the global role of the United States and the proper use of American power, his campaign has decided to focus on delivering insults to the family of a Muslim American solider who was killed in combat and using thinly veiled racist attacks as a way to conduct diplomacy with our Latin American neighbors and the entire Arab world.
These racist attacks and increasingly incoherent, ignorant, and incompetent campaign speeches threaten to tarnish to the alternative of non-intervention in the minds of the American public. Assuming that Trump loses - and I pray every night to the electoral college that he does - it could result in a further perpetuation of a neo-liberal foreign policy that has failed us for the past 70 years.
Among the bullshit he peddles daily, Trump has said three things about foreign policy that should be reassuring to most peace loving voters. First, he has made it clear that the primary purpose of U.S. foreign policy is to put America first. Now, this has some problems as we saw with the Brexit movement using the similar phrase of "England First" as a way to push the U.K closer to isolationism, not because of a disastrous foreign policy, but the because of the xenophobia that had arisen with the recent terrorist attacks in Europe. However, Trump's emphasis on U.S. interest is a hardly beyond the pale and one Green Party candidate Jill Stein has agreed with.
Jill Stein is in favor of dramatically reducing America's military presence around the world and using the money spent that is currently spent on maintaining military bases and propping up dictatorships on things like abolishing student debt and creating a 21st century infrastructure. By removing unachievable foreign policy goals like: spreading democracy, promoting human rights, and realigning foreign interests with Western interests, America can save billions of dollars while being more selective and realistic about when to use military force.
Second, Trump believes that many U.S. allies are wealthy countries that are taking billions of dollars from the American public while doing little to bear their rightful share of collective security burdens and even less to protect America's interest. He is absolutely right and President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have said the same exact thing on numerous occasions.
With Egypt receiving $1.5 billion dollars annually from the United States (more than any other country besides Israel), it should be assumed that Egypt would be constantly protecting American interests as though they were Egyptian national interests. However, the newly "elected" President and former military leader, Abdel al-Sisi has spent more time arresting journalists and former supporters of his opponent than he has fighting ISIS in neighboring Libya. The question is why are we giving Egypt $1.5 billion every year when that money could be spent on education, fighting poverty, and building sports stadiums.
The answer is a bad one. America got into a spending war with the Soviet Union in the 1960s when Gamal Abdel Nasser was President of Egypt. America was trying to buy influence in the Middle East and the Soviet Union joined the auction to try and bid for Egypt's loyalty. The United States won, but it was an expensive purchase. We made Egypt a central ally in the fight against the spread of communism and Soviet influence in the region. With the Soviet Union collapsed, and our money doing little to advance our interests anyways, I think it's time to stop fighting the Cold War and take our money back.
Third, Trump has labelled efforts to "nation build" as stupid and unrealistic. It's hard to argue with him on this point as we see our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan crumbling and inadvertently creating power vacuums for our enemies to take advantage of. Now it's important to point out that this foreign policy of avoiding open-ended quagmires is difficult and requires a cool head and a certain amount of discipline. Trump has not shown this ability at any point of his campaign and often sounds like he'd be willing to go to war at the drop of a hat.
The fact that this man, a man who has repeatedly expressed his fondness for foreign dictators like Vladimir Putin and Saddam Hussein, has expressed non-interventionist policies that I agree with is stomach wrenching and confusing to say the least. Furthermore, his statements about killing the families of enemy combatants and inviting Russia to illegally interfere in the U.S. election by hacking Hillary Clinton's email server - are so evil and bizarre that it makes him categorically unfit to be any representative of the U.S. government let alone Commander-in-Chief.
Part of me wants to be glad that the political spectrum has dramatically shifted and the GOP candidate is choosing sensible ideas about what America's role should be and expressing restraint in using military force. The problem is that this GOP candidate is Donald Trump, a man without empathy, logic, or restraint. So instead of cheering non-interventionist ideas that are now being pushed now by the GOP candidate, I am just worried he is going to ruin them and make the American public think they are as stupid as he is.