02 May 2016

If These Guys Hate Him, Trump Might Be Right

Over at FT, Edward Luce makes the obvious observation, that the foreign policy establishment who is having the vapors of Trump's foreign policy, Luce ironically calls them the. "best and brightest, have been wrong about everything all the time for decades:
Intellectuals crave doctrines. The tidier the formula, the easier it is to make sense of that messy world out there.

In the view of the US’s strategic elites, Donald Trump’s mind is recklessly untidy. Last week they poured scorn on his much-awaited foreign policy speech. Not only was it self-negating — Mr Trump vowed both to be predictable and unpredictable — but he has yet to hire an intellectually respected adviser. It is doubtful he has read a book on foreign policy. Is further proof needed? Mr Trump is not only a loose cannon. He is also ignorant of the canon. The man could not even pronounce Tanzania (his version rhymed with Romania).

All of which is true. But the critique suffers from two weaknesses. First, the people making it, which includes almost everyone, are throwing stones from glass houses. These include form­er Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, John McCain and Lindsey Graham and their galaxy of advisers — 121 of whom signed a letter condemning Mr Trump’s platform. It also includes the Democratic elites led by Hillary Clinton. They may differ in degree but they share a basic worldview. The US must uphold universal values with force if necessary. That is how things are done. In the words of Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state, the US sees further than other nations because “it stands taller”.

All of which adds up. Yet, with one or two exceptions, these were the same people who brought you the US-led invasion of Iraq. Mr Trump plays loose with detail when he claims to have opposed the 2003 war (he said very little until the scale of the disaster had become obvious). But few outside Washington bother with such timelines. What they grasp is that Mr Trump has united the same elites against him who were so collectively wrong on Iraq. This is no minor detail. Washington’s biggest brains have a record of miscuing in unison on the biggest questions.

Think of the Vietnam war, which competes with Iraq as the largest foreign policy disaster in US history. That was famously orchestrated by “the best and the brightest”. Their doctrine was the domino theory — if one state fell to communism, its neighbours would follow. It was simple, logical and disastrous. George W Bush’s doctrine was that pre-emptive war would stave off bigger threats down the line. It was also easy to grasp and catastrophic. The Iraq war spawned the monster child of Isis. On a smaller scale, the same could be said of the 2011 US-backed overthrow of Libya’s Muammer Gaddafi. Libya is now a second base for Isis. Given the chance, might these same elites drag the US into a Syrian quagmire, or a military clash with Russian president Vladimir Putin over Ukraine? Could we rule out a conflict with China in the South China Sea?
I think that it is highly likely that Trump's foreign policy will batsh%$ insane.

It will be completely nuts.

That being said, there is a substantial possibility that this foreign policy will be saner and less destructive than the Council on Foreign Relations/Washington foreign policy consensus.


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