Washington Times on April 27, 2016 reported on Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s speech in Washington DC on his foreign policy vision. Excerpts below:
Speaking blocks away from the White House, Mr. Trump broke from his typical off-the-cuff style and used a teleprompter, telling a reserved audience largely drawn from Washington’s think tank establishment that his approach “replaces randomness with purpose, ideology with strategy and chaos with peace.”
Only occasionally ad-libbing as he read his prepared remarks, Mr. Trump hammered President Obama for letting America’s “rivals and challengers think they can get away with anything,” asserting the administration has pursued dangerous and misguided detentes with regimes such as Cuba and Iran while avoiding confrontation with North Korea over its growing nuclear provocations.
“To all our friends and allies, I say America is going to be strong again. America is going to be a reliable friend and ally again,” he said. “We’re going to finally have a coherent foreign policy based upon American interests and the shared interests of our allies.”
Asserting that “‘America first’ will be the major and overriding theme of my administration,” the billionaire businessman appeared openly to be trying to channel Ronald Reagan during the 38-minute speech, saying both parties had lost their way in the world in the quarter-century since the collapse of the Soviet Union. He took no questions from the audience after his remarks.
He said American foreign policy has “veered badly off course” since the end of the Cold War.
“Donald Trump delivered a very good foreign policy speech in which he laid out his vision for American engagement in the world,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker in a statement.
“In a year where angry rhetoric has defined the presidential race on both sides of the aisle,” the Tennessee Republican said, “I believe today’s speech could be an important step in that direction.”
Mr. Trump did embrace many conservative Republican critiques of the Obama record, slamming the president for refusing to acknowledge that the U.S. is “in a war against radical Islam.”
Containing the spread of jihadis may require the use of American military might, he said, but the conflict should also be understood as “a philosophical struggle, like our long struggle in the Cold War.”
“President Obama won’t even name the enemy,” he said. “Unless you name the enemy, you will never, ever solve the problem.
On China Trump said:
“China respects strength, and by letting them take advantage of us economically, we have lost all of their respect,” he added. “We have a massive trade deficit with China, a deficit we must find a way quickly to balance.”
But after threatening to take a tough line in order to wring trade and investment concessions from Beijing, Mr. Trump then added, “A strong and smart America is an America that will find a better friend in China. We can both benefit or we can both go our separate ways.”
Mr. Trump…sharply criticized Mrs. Clinton’s handling of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 that resulted in the death of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.
“After Secretary Clinton’s failed intervention in Libya, Islamic terrorists in Benghazi took down our consulate and killed our ambassador and three brave Americans,” Mr. Trump said. Then, instead of taking charge that night, Hillary Clinton decided to go home and sleep. Incredible.”
“Our goal is peace and prosperity, not war and destruction,” Mr. Trump said at the event organized by the Center for the National Interest, an organization long considered to promote a “realist” approach to international relations.
“The best way to achieve those goals is through a disciplined, deliberate and consistent foreign policy,” Mr. Trump said.
“Our friends and enemies must know that if I draw a line in the sand, I will enforce it,” he said. “However, unlike other candidates for the presidency, war and aggression will not be my first instinct. You cannot have a foreign policy without diplomacy. A superpower understands that caution and restraint are signs of strength.”
At another point he said that “if America fights, it must fight to win,” and that he will only send the military into battle “if we have a plan for victory.”
Mr. Trump reiterated his calls for strengthened immigration controls and the pursuit of trade deals that protect American workers.
Mr. Trump also expanded on his previous comments toward NATO, saying that “the whole world will be safer if our allies do their part.”
“Our allies must contribute toward the financial, political and human costs of our tremendous security burden. But many of them are simply not doing so,” he said. “They look at the United States as weak and forgiving and feel no obligation to honor their agreements with us.
“In NATO, only four of 28 other member countries, besides America, are spending the minimum required 2 percent of GDP on defense,” Mr. Trump added. “The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense — and, if not, the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves.”
But he also said the U.S. itself has failed to spend enough on its own defense during recent decades, claiming that “our active-duty armed forces have shrunk from 2 million in 1991 to about 1.3 million today” and that the U.S. Navy “has shrunk from over 500 ships to 272 ships during that time.”
“We will spend what we need to rebuild our military. It is the cheapest investment we can make,” Mr. Trump said. “We will develop, build and purchase the best equipment known to mankind. Our military dominance must be unquestioned.”
“But,” he added, “we will look for savings and spend our money wisely. In this time of mounting debt, not one dollar can be wasted.”
Comment: On long term US policy it is important to note that Trump in his speech brought up the importance of victory in US foreign policy. The term victory cannot be found in modern Western military dictionaries (Jane’s Dictionary of MILITARY TERMS, 1975, and A Dictionary of Modern War by Edward Luttwak, 1972) but it has been central to the survival of the West in the 20th and 21st centuries. The reason for the lack of the term victory in doctrinal works might be that the strategy of containment dominated U.S.-Western policy since formally enunciated by George Kennan in July, 1947, based on the belief that permanent co-existence between the Communist and non-Communist worlds did not envision victory. It is interesting to note that a prominent book on containment (John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment, 1982) does not even mention the critics of containment that called for victory in the Cold War. Senator Barry Goldwater is not mentioned in the index. Congressional criticism of containment is not presented by Gaddis.
The politically dominating left in the era after World War II could not free itself from the delusion that communism – fascism from the left – had a supposed goal of virtue.
An important supporter of victory in war was General MacArthur, who during the Korean War insisted on widening the war by bombing Manchuria and blockading Chinese ports. Truman saw the general’s policies as undermining the civilian control of the military and removed him from command on April 11, 1951.
Later in April MacArthur defended his position in the United States Congress in a speech (April 19, 1951): “Once war is forced upon us, there is no other alternative than to apply every available means to bring it to a swift end. War’s very object is victory, not prolonged indecision…In war there is no substitute for victory”.
If the advice of General MacArthur had been followed during the Vietnam War the many lives of American soldiers would have been saved.
Scattered voices could be heard 1960 for victory over communism. The Philippine Ambassador to the United States, Carlos Romulo, wrote (Reader’s Digest, November 1960, p. 48): “America, Wake Up ! Shake off the course of a nation that is giving the forces of evil the right of way in this world ! Face up to the blunt fact that you are now engaged in a real war and that it must be fought and won. This is the only alternative to defeat by default !” (quoted in Frank J. Johnson, No Substitute for Victory, 1962).
Senator Barry Goldwater wrote: “And still the awful truth remains: We can establish the domestic conditions for maximizing freedom…and yet become slaves. We can do this by losing the Cold War to the Soviet Union” (The Conscience of a Conservative, 1960, quoted by Franks S. Meyer in The Conservative Mainstream, 1969, p. 73).
Senator Goldwater continued by stating that we cannot have “a peace in which freedom and justice will prevail…given the nature of communism [until] Soviet power will no longer be in the position to threaten us and the rest of the world. A tolerable peace, in other words, must follow victory over communism” (p.73). There should not be an open war but America had to risk war rather than surrender. The basic strategy should be to push back the Soviet Empire, with the aim of bringing about its disintegration” (p. 73). It was in the 1980s the anticommunist policies of President Ronald Reagan that resulted in the collapse of the Soviet empire.
In 1962 the Republican Party in a Statement of Principles clearly explained that “the overriding national goal must be victory over communism”. This strategic goal was confirmed in the platform in 1964 of the party, which called generally for “victory over Communism” and specifically for the “eventual liberation” of the East European countries (Robert Alan Goldberg, Barry Goldwater, 1995, p. 203).
Senator Barry Goldwater had published a book in 1962 (Why Not Victory?) in which he formulated his foreign policy agenda. Some quotes illustrate his views then, which of course guided his policy in the 1964 presidential campaign.
“That is why I ask, why not victory? Once upon a time our traditional goal in war – and can anyone doubt that we are not at war? – was victory”. (p. 17).
“…victory over communism must be the dominant, proximate goal of American policy.” (p. 39).
Goldwater had been subjected to a blistering attack by Senator William Fulbright of Arkansas, a leading Democratic foreign policy voice in the Senate for his views on Cold War victory: “He [Fulbright] was excessively bemused with one of my phrases “total victory”, wrote Goldwater (p. 152).
Goldwater continued “…there can be no middle alternative between a policy aimed at victory or one that would permit defeat.” (p. 153).
“If there is doubt as to what victory in the Communist War means, let me say that it means the opposite of defeat;…” (p. 153).
“Victory in the Communist War means the sum total of all the hopes of free men throughout the world.” (p. 153 – 154).
“Indeed a decisive victory over the Communists is possible” (p. 154).
“- a strategy [is needed] that aims at victory;” (p. 154).
“If victory is not our official aim, then there would appear to be no point in bringing all our arguments to bear on the side of freedom” (p. 156).
“In this world struggle there is no substitute for victory” (p. 163).
“We must win in order to survive” (p. 195).
Senator Goldwater renewed his pledges from 1962 two years later (Where I Stand, 1964):
“We should, and morally can, seek to discredit both the Communist ideology and the Communist leadership in the eyes of their subjects, and try to drive wedges between them”. (p. 58).
“Ending the Communist power to distort human life and disrupt world peace is the vision of victory that has the power to inspire and the inspiration to win. It is the victory that would snuff out the fuse of war and aggression, liberate peoples, and assure ordered fulfillment of reasonable hopes everywhere.” (p. 66).
After victory over the Soviet Union the West has been faced with new, even more dangerous enemies of a different kind: the three anti-Western empires of Eurasia (Russia, China and Iran) and Islamist terrorism. It is clear that the United States and the rest of the West must win the war against international terrorism. The challenges of the three anti-Western empires must taken up. The United States and its allies have been victorious in all larger wars since World War I and this latest phase of the World Civil War (ongoing since 1789. See for instance Bertil Haggman’s article “Will the West Survive? in Comparative Civilizations Review, No. 72, Spring 2015) must also end in victory. The alternative could be the destruction of the West by nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. The threat today is greater than it was in the beginning of the 20th century. The strategy of victory is needed, once more, this time in the 21st century’s true Global Civil War. The West needs a vision of victory to avoid becoming a larger version of Germany’s Weimar Republic in the 1920s and 1930s falling prey to the empires of heartland and rimland Eurasia and a widening war by Islamist terrorism across the globe.