Last week we looked at each of the four candidate’s positions on the economy. This week we’ll examine their foreign policy views.
And just as a reminder, the idea here is to take a look at how each candidate represents his or her views on any given topic. Foreign policy means a lot of things rolled into one. Many of them (trade, immigration, climate) will be examined more closely at a later date. This week we primarily take a look at things like national security, terrorism, and the military.
We went alphabetically last week. Let’s reverse it this time.
Donald J. Trump
Political Party: Republican
What does Trump have to say about foreign policy on his website? Nothing specific. He talks about a few things related to foreign policy but there is no unifying theory, just bits and pieces. The closest he gets to specifics about foreign policy is his lengthy piece on immigration. That’s a topic for another day, but since it’s literally almost all I have to work with, we’ll touch on it a bit.
He has a section called “Pay for the Wall,” which outlines his plan to get Mexico to pay for our effort to build a wall between Mexico and the United States. He wants to alter an existing portion of the Patriot Act to add Western Union wire transfers to the list of financial transactions that require ID. Mexico, he says, receives $24 billion from Mexicans living in America sending money to relatives. The majority of this, he says, comes from illegals. This one change in the Patriot Act will make Mexico that much poorer, and they’ll be more than happy to send us a one-time payment of $5-10 billion to cover the cost of the wall. If they do that, he won’t enact the regulation.
And that’s just a taste. I can’t dive any deeper or verify any of those claims now because this is about foreign policy in general. We’ll save the rest of that fun stuff for a later date. For now, let’s move on. Though keep in mind, his stance on immigration appears to be changing every day, so who knows what will be in place when we talk about it.
Trump’s website has an Issues section. It’s a series of videos — all under 1:00 in length — accompanied by an urgent soundtrack. He sits at his desk, talking about the different issues and what he thinks about them. Here is a summary of any and all videos pertaining to foreign policy that I could find:
- Israel: He loves Israel, and wants to see a deal between Israel and Palestine and he’s going to give it “an awfully good shot” while remaining as neutral as possible. Also, he reiterates, he loves Israel.
- The Military: He’s going to make the military so big that “no one will mess with us.” And he’ll get rid of ISIS “fast.”
And that’s it. Nothing even close to a specific detail. Outside of his website, he did give a rather lengthy foreign policy speech a few weeks ago. In it, he said he wants to work with NATO now. Previously, he said they were “obsolete,” but he says they changed their ways and he has since changed his position.
He also wants to create new screening procedures, including a new “ideological screening test.” He gave no details, but he did want it to mirror something we had set up during the Cold War. If he means this, then “Hellloooo McCarthyism!”
Political Party: Green
Now HERE’S someone with some specifics on foreign policy. They are as follows:
- Cut military spending by 50% and close all 700+ foreign military bases.
- Stop funding human rights abusers, specifically Israel, Saudia Arabia, and Egypt.
- And while we’re on the Saudis, freeze the Saudi Royal Family’s bank accounts.
- Stop military and CIA intervention in democratically elected governments.
- Also end the following things: drug wars, drones, assassinations, war in Afghanistan and Iraq, anti-personnel land mines, nukes, and space weapons.
- Remove our nukes from Germany, Belgium, Turkey, Italy, and the Netherlands. Yeah, Turkey! Get your own nukes!
Hell yeah, Jill Stein, way to get specific. She essentially wants the to get the U.S. out of everyone’s business, and she’s lined up some very specific ideas on how to do so.
Unfortunately, there are no specifics about how she’s going to do it. Ending funding to human rights abusers will save some money, as will slashing half of the military’s budget. But I’m not sure there are enough green jobs in the world to re-employ everyone she’s firing.
Still, bold ideas spelled out plainly. Well done, doc.
Political Party: Libertarian
There’s a 1:30 video called “The Cost of War” on his Foreign Policy & National Defense page talking about how he’s against war and the two major party candidates are for it. There are also a few paragraphs below the video that reiterate the content of the video.
And that’s it.
This is a lot like his stance on the economy. Presumably different, but demonstrably vague. He talked to the L.A. Times a few weeks ago but didn’t really say anything. Like, ISIS is bad, but I would “never say never.” Which, I’m not even sure what that means.
Come on, Gary! You could be a legit Third Party candidate! Talk about your ideas, man!
Political Party: Democrat
Much like her plans for the economy, Hillary has by far done more to detail her plans for national security and foreign policy on her website. She has three separate sections devoted to this area: terrorism, military, and national defense.
Terrorism: Take out ISIS by intensifying the coalition, stepping up support for local forces, and pursuing diplomatic strategies in Iraq and Syria. Her approach also includes working with tech companies and our European Allies to dismantle terror networks across the globe.
Military: Clinton, like Trump, says that she will maintain the strongest military “the world has ever known.”
National Security: Stick with NATO, support Israel, prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, stand up to Putin, and hold China “accountable,” though that seems to be more about fair trade than anything else.
All in all, nothing to see here. This is your standard major political party candidate’s plan for foreign policy. Nothing radical, nothing too scary or original. But, in her defense, at least the information is there. Each one of those points I laid out above has its own separate white paper that goes into even more detail. Never let it be said that she isn’t thorough.
So there we have it. Not a lot of surprises. It seems to me that we have two sides.
There are two major party candidates — Trump and Clinton — offering the same old same old. One of them goes into an incredible amount of detail. The other doesn’t.
And then we have the other side, the third (and fourth?) party candidates, both of whom promise to bring radical change to our presence abroad. And again, one has very specific ideas laid out. The other doesn’t.
I’ll give this round to Jill Stein, if only because 1) she has some truly different ideas, and 2) she’s not afraid to lay them out in detail. You go, girl.