Trump Should Be Guided by Foreign Policy Experts?

Trump Should Be Guided by Foreign Policy Experts?

Donald Trump’s critics say his foreign policy choices are foolish and dangerous. They hope he’ll be guided by the wise counsel of seasoned experts.


At a moment when US foreign policy choices have rarely been more contentious and opinions are often clouded by political approval of, or animus toward, those in charge, it is….

Time to play devil’s advocate.

Trump: A US attack is coming on the “gas killing animal” Assad.

Experts: Firing missiles at Syria comes with risks, and it won’t make things better.

The case for Trump: If Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has again used chemical weapons against Syrian civilians, he’s violated the Chemical Weapons Conventionand committed an act of pure evil. Russia, Assad’s ally, will block UN action. How can the US raise the cost of such crimes for Assad and send an unmistakable warning to those who might do such a thing in future? Who else will enforce the chemical weapons ban?


Trump: US troops should leave Syria “very soon.”

Experts: ISIS isn’t finished, and Russia won’t fight them. Don’t repeat the mistakes of the retreat from Iraq.

The case for Trump: The Russians haven’t attacked ISIS because they know the US will do it for them. When ISIS attacks Russia, as it has in the past, and when Russia and ISIS are left to fight over Syrian territory, Russians will pound ISIS as US troops and taxpayers watch from a safe distance.


Trump: Syria is not our problem.

Experts: You can’t just leave Syria to Russia and Iran.

The case for Trump: The US has spent far more in Iraq and Afghanistan than on the entire Marshall Plan. What does Washington have to show for it? How much more should the American taxpayer spend on failed projects in the Middle East?


Trump: I’ve been tough on Russia.

Experts: Trump has been soft on Russia.

The case for Trump: Trump has endorsed a National Security Strategy that labels Russia a “revisionist power” that uses “modernized forms of subversive tactics” to “interfere in the domestic political affairs of countries around the world.”


Trump: I’ve been tough with Putin.

Experts: Trump is too nice to Putin.

The case for Trump: The president has called out Putin for backing “Animal Assad” in Syria, approved sanctions on two dozen Russian oligarchs and state officials close to Putin, approved the sale of lethal weapons to Ukraine, expelled diplomats, and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle. He probably won’t let Moscow have the Miss Universe Pageant again either.


Trump: Our NATO allies are free-riding.

Experts: Criticizing NATO allies alienates valuable friends and encourages Russia to test NATO resolve.

The case for Trump: When Trump arrived in office, just five of NATO’s 28 members were spending the 2 percent of GDP on defense required of all members. Following Trump’s criticism, 15 of those governments have responded by spending more. That strengthens NATO, and it’s good for the United States.


Trump: Americans deserve better deals on trade.

Experts: Trump’s threats to existing trade deals encourage protectionism that will hurt Americans.

The case for Trump: If the president can force favorable changes to NAFTA, and if tariff threats earn concessions from China without starting the trade wars many experts fear, these moves will have helped Americans in hard-hit industries and US companies doing business overseas.

The bottom line: There are strong counter-arguments to every one of these points, but they all deserve debate that extends beyond anyone’s opinion of Donald Trump, his style, and his character.

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The fate of Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic — who was poisoned last summer, allegedly by state officials, treated in Germany, and then jailed upon his return to Russia — is being closely watched both inside and outside the country.

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Watch the episode: Can we fix the planet the same way we broke it?

Ian Bremmer and Bill Maher discussed the global leadership of the United States compared to that of China on a recent episode of Real Time. "The level of corruption in China, the level of corruption in China, even the buildings and the rails you talk about - the average building the Chinese build lasts for 20, 25 years. In the United States, it lasts for 40 to 50. There's a reason why we are still the world's most powerful country," Ian argued. "I'm just saying China's not eating our lunch - that's all."

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody, Ian Bremmer here, kicking off your beautiful spring week from New York City. A little Quick Take. I thought I'd talk today about Russia, going to be in the news this week. Putin doesn't like it when they're out of the news for too long, certainly plenty going on between the US and Russia right now.

I'd say, first of all, to start off, the relationship is in the toilet. We know this. It is the worst it's been since the early '80s. That was true even under Trump. Trump and Putin personally had a pretty good relationship, but Trump wasn't able to get anything really done for the Russians, because both the Republicans in Congress, key members of cabinet under Trump, massive amount of constraints on what Trump could actually do, whether it's trying to bring Russia back into the G7 or recognize Crimea as a part of Russia, or remove or reduce sanctions. None of that actually got done. In fact, the relationship deteriorated over the four years.

But now we've got Biden and the focus is of course, more on human rights. The focus is more on climate change, which means that Russia as a massive energy exporter and particularly in terms of their influence on Eastern Europe and Western Europe on the downstream for gas delivery, for example, something that Biden is much more focused on. So a lot more pressure on the Russians, and the Russians don't care. Their willingness to hit back and show that the Americans are not willing to take any significant risks to constrain the Russians is also fairly significant. And this is playing out in a number of ways.

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Pakistani radicals vs French cartoons: It's been a tumultuous week in Lahore, Pakistan's second largest city. After widespread protests broke out across the Muslim world late last year after Paris defended French publications' rights to publish satirical images of the Prophet Mohammad, the radical Pakistani Islamist group Tehrik-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), gave Pakistan's government until April 20 to expel the French ambassador, when it had planned nationwide demonstrations. When Prime Minister Imran Khan refused to meet their demands, more violence erupted across the country and authorities arrested the TLP leader — prompting TLP supporters to hit back by kidnapping six state security personnel in Lahore this past weekend. Authorities have now banned the TLP outright and are bracing for more violence in the coming days. France, meanwhile, has urged all of its citizens to leave Pakistan.

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