Trump’s Five Questions on US Foreign Policy
Along with his self-congratulatory bombast, Donald Trump has offered a rare critique of Official Washington’s “group think” about foreign policy, including the wisdom of NATO expansion and the value of endless war, notes John V. Walsh.
May 22, 2016 By John V. Walsh
“Only Donald Trump (among the Presidential candidates) has said anything meaningful and critical of U.S. foreign policy.” No, that is not Reince Priebus, chair of the RNC, speaking up in favor of the presumptive Republican nominee. It is Stephen F. Cohen, Emeritus Professor of Russian History at Princeton and NYU, a contributing editor for The Nation, that most liberal of political journals.
Cohen tells us here that: “Trump’s questions are fundamental and urgent, but instead of engaging them, his opponents (including President Obama) and the media dismiss the issues he raises about foreign policy as ignorant and dangerous. Some even charge that his statements are like ‘Christmas in the Kremlin’ and that he is ‘the Kremlin’s Candidate’ — thereby, further shutting off the debate we so urgently need.” (Cohen’s comment about the lack of a meaningful critique of U.S. foreign policy also covers the statements of Sen. Bernie Sanders.)
Cohen first enunciated Trump’s five questions during one of his weekly discussions on relations between Russia and the West on The John Batchelor Show, on WABC-AM (also on podcasts).
On the April 6 broadcast, Cohen said: “Let me just rattle off the five questions he [Trump] has asked. [First] why must the United States lead the world everywhere on the globe and play the role of the world’s policeman, now for example, he says, in Ukraine? It’s a question. It’s worth a discussion.
“Secondly, [Trump] said, NATO was founded 67 years ago to deter the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union ended 25 years ago. What is NATO’s mission? Is it obsolete? Is it fighting terrorism? No, to the last question, it’s not. Should we discuss NATO’s mission?
“Thirdly, [Trump] asks, why does the United States always pursue regime changes? Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, and now it wants a regime change in Syria, Damascus. When the result is, to use Donald Trump’s favorite word, the result is always “disaster.” But it’s a reasonable question.
“Fourthly, why do we treat Russia and Putin as an enemy when he should be a partner?
“Fifth, Trump asks, about nuclear weapons – and this is interesting. You remember he was asked, would he rule out using nuclear weapons – an existential question. He thought for a while and then he said, ‘No, I take nothing off the table.’ And everybody said he wants to use nuclear weapons! In fact, it is the official American nuclear doctrine policy that we do not take first use off the table. We do not have a no first use of nuclear weapons doctrine. So all Trump did was state in his own way what has been official American nuclear policy for, I guess, 40 or 50 years. …
“It seems to me that these five questions, which are not being discussed by the other presidential candidates, are essential.”
Batchelor then turned the discussion to the question of NATO. Cohen replied: “When we say NATO, what are we talking about? We are not talking only about the weapons and soldiers on land and sea. We’re talking about a vast political bureaucracy with hundreds of thousands of employees and appointees, that is located in Brussels. It’s a political empire. It’s an institution. It’s almost on a par with our Department of Defense, though it gets its money from the Department of Defense, mainly, as Trump points out …
“But it has many propaganda organs. If you look at the bylines of people who write op-ed pieces in many American papers, they are listed as working for the public relations department of NATO or they formerly did so. No, I would say along with the Kremlin and Washington, NATO is probably the third largest propagator of information, in this information war, in the world.
“But look, here’s the reality. And Trump came to this late. When they were discussing expanding NATO in the 1990s in the Clinton administration, it was George Kennan, who was then the most venerable American diplomat scholar on relations with Russia, who said: Don’t do it; it will be a disaster; it will lead to a new Cold War.
“Since George spoke his words – and I knew him well when I taught at Princeton where he lived – we have taken in virtually all of the countries between Berlin and Russia. NATO now has 28 membership states. But if you sit in the Kremlin and you see NATO coming at you over 20 years, country by country like PAC-man, gobbling up countries that used to be your allies, who appears to be the aggressor?
“So – the expansion of NATO has been a catastrophe. And that has been, in some ways, apart from fighting the war in Afghanistan – from which I believe it has now withdrawn, it is now solely American (I may be wrong about that) – and in addition taking on the American project of missile defense, expanding toward Russia has been NATO’s only mission since the end of the Soviet Union.
“So people can ask themselves, if they ask calmly and apart from the information war, … do we have less security risks, less conflict, today after this expansion to Russia’s borders, bearing in mind that the Ukrainian crisis is a direct result of trying to bring Ukraine into NATO as was the Georgian war, the proxy war with Russia in 2008. Are we, as [President] Reagan would say, are we better off today? We are not! So easily at a minimum, we have to rethink what it is NATO is doing.”
So get thee to the website for the American Committee on East West Accord and listen to the weekly Batchelor-Cohen podcasts. They are an ideal antidote to the avalanche of Russia-bashing and Putin-demonizing that we must endure. While you are at it, check out the other leading members of ACEWA, a superb and badly needed organization – and make a contribution.
John V. Walsh is a frequent contributor to CounterPunch.com, Antiwar.com, LewRockwell.com and DissidentVoice.org. He is a founding member of “Come Home America.” Until recently he was Professor of Physiology and Neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forget NATO. Trump Should Defund the UN
May 17, 2016 by Roger L. Simon
The courage to go after sacred cows is one of Donald Trump’s more appealing, if controversial, traits. He raised the issue of NATO, contending the USA pays far too much of the freight in the mutual defense pact.
Such proposals, the candidate has made clear, are not so much policies as “suggestions” or what one might call, from his business perspective, negotiating positions.
Regarding the NATO suggestion, frankly, I am of two minds. While it’s clearly arguable the American contribution is excessive, the investment might be necessary for the preservation of the alliance (weak as it is) and to maintain the necessary U.S. leadership position. “Leading from behind” has been one of the obvious fiascoes of the 21st century.
But I have another, somewhat similar, suggestion for Donald about which I have no ambivalence. It’s time for the U.S. seriously to curtail, if not end, its mammoth annual contribution to the United Nations that dwarfs those made by all the other 192 member-states
Here’s how CNS News reported the situation in 2012:
In one of its last actions of the year, the United Nations General Assembly on Christmas Eve agreed to extend for another three years the formula that has U.S. taxpayers contributing more than one-fifth of the world body’s regular budget.No member-state called for a recorded vote, and the resolution confirming the contributions that each country will make for the 2013-2015 period was summarily adopted. The assembly also approved a two-year U.N. budget of $5.4 billion.
The U.S. has accounted for 22 percent of the total regular budget every year since 2000, and will now continue to do so for the next three years.
That’s 22 percent for virtually nothing.
While the UN many have been formed in an outburst of post-World War II idealism, it has descended into an international society for Third World kleptocrats of mind-boggling proportions—the Iraq War oil-for-food scandal being only one nauseating example--who engage in non-stop Israel-bashing to distract their populaces from their own thievery. What in the Sam Hill do we get out of that?
Everybody knows this, of course. When critical negotiations take place (i.e., the Iran nuclear talks, speaking of fiascoes, and the Syrian peace talks, not that they have much chance of success), they are removed from the UN and conducted between the serious players. No one is curious about what Zimbabwe’s Mugabe has to say, at least one hopes not.
Now it’s certain this suggestion—defunding the UN—would be treated with (feigned) uncomprehending derision by Hillary and even more contempt by Bernie, who would most probably like to cede US hegemony to the United Nations anyway, assuming some good socialist, like Venezuela’s Maduro or Brazil’s Rousseff (well, maybe not her), was secretary-general.
But the American voter, I would imagine, when informed of even a smattering of the facts, would support Trump in defunding or, more likely, greatly curtailing America’s financial support of the United Nations. It’s a negotiation, after all.
Maybe the UN can be reduced to a few divisions of more practical use like the World Health Organization. UNESCO has, sadly, already gone the way of political insanity. Whatever the case, a smaller UN footprint in NYC would be a big step in the right direction. Think what a positive it would be for the traffic and parking situation on the East side of Manhattan.
Roger L. Simon is a prize-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media. His next book – I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already – will be published by Encounter Books on June 14, 2016.
Senator Jeff Sessions Interview Discussing 2016 Presidential Race…
Senator Jeff Sessions appeared on Fox News Sunday to discuss the state of the GOP primary, republican party nominee Donald Trump, and the state of the race:
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