Trumped up foreign policy

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Donald Trump will give what is being billed as a major foreign policy speech tomorrow intended to “recast the real-estate mogul as a more sober and serious presidential candidate than he’s perceived by many Americans and foreign allies.”

This may be the tallest of tall orders. In a long article over at Huffington Post Highline, author Andy Kroll reports on the deep dismay within the ranks of America’s military and foreign policy leadership over the possibility of a Trump presidency:

[W]hen Trump has weighed in on national security questions, his remarks often reveal either ignorance or disdain for military expertise and the codes of conduct that govern the armed forces. …

Trump’s pronouncements on foreign policy, combined with his years of broadsides, have set off a very real fear within military circles about what might happen were he to become president. In the last two months, I spoke with dozens of people in the national security realm—current and retired officers, veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and former White House, State Department, Pentagon and CIA officials. The words they used to describe their mood: Terrified. Shocked. Appalled. Never before, they say, has a candidate gotten so close to the White House with such little respect for the military.

What do we know about his foreign policy positions so far? By my reckoning, based on his extant speeches, statements, and tweets, Trump would …

  • Authorize torture against terrorism suspects.
  • Order the US military to commit war crimes.
  • Abandon longstanding alliances, like NATO.
  • Walk away from defense commitments to South Korea and Japan even if that means they develop nuclear weapons of their own.
  • Wage trade wars against China and other countries he deems guilty of engaging in unfair trade practices.
  • Close America’s border with Mexico and confiscate remittances from Mexican workers in the US in order to fund the building of Trump’s border wall.
  • Bar Muslim immigrants and refugees from US soil.

We’ll see how much of that agenda the candidate walks back tomorrow, or whether he doubles down. In the meantime consider this post a placeholder until the speech at the National Press Club in Washington.

Trump’s America today

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This is what you’re voting for when you vote for Donald Trump:

Episodes like this have become so common that Slate has been keeping a running tally of violent incidents at Trump rallies and events.

The sucker punch delivered to a peaceful protester being escorted out by police is bad enough. Worse yet are the roars of approval from the crowd.

I won’t bother pointing out that it’s the protester that’s shown being arrested on the video, not the man who assaulted him. Nor that any of the other available video shows anything different, though a local television station reported this afternoon that assault and battery charges have been filed in the incident.

The Washington Post has the full story and more video from yesterday’s rally in Fayetteville, N.C., where the latest violence occurred.  You should read it.  And if you think this is a fluke, then read this one. Or this one, with the dire prediction that even worse violence is yet to come.

I am at a loss for words.

Do your part to stop Trump

Trump fascist

My state goes to the polls today to cast ballots in the presidential primaries. For me, one simple thought is driving my decision about how to vote today.

Trump must be stopped.

I sincerely wish I could trust the Republicans to do it themselves, but for all their #NeverTrump protestations, signs of accommodation with the authoritarian megalomaniac are already there. So that means its up to the rest of us.

His rivals for the GOP nomination have made much of Trump’s self-declared flexibility on the issues, if that’s what we’re going to call his wild inconsistency and whim-driven flip-flops on policy. What’s far more troubling are those positions where he has been rock-solidly consistent. In fact, those examples aren’t troubling, they’re terrifying.

In prosecuting the war on terror, Trump has vowed to torture, not just in a vain effort to gain intelligence, but to exact vengeance; he has vowed to kill the families of terrorists and terror suspects; to wage religious war; to “level the playing field” by adopting the same barbarous tactics as ISIS; to order the American military to commit war crimes, which he would legitimize by having “the law expanded” to authorize whatever ruthless tactics he deems necessary.

In an open letter to the American public, members of the Republican national security community summarized their united opposition to Trump this way:

Mr. Trump’s own statements lead us to conclude that as president, he would use the authority of his office to act in ways that make America less safe, and which would diminish our standing in the world. Furthermore, his expansive view of how presidential power should be wielded against his detractors poses a distinct threat to civil liberty in the United States. Therefore, as committed and loyal Republicans, we are unable to support a Party ticket with Mr. Trump at its head. We commit ourselves to working energetically to prevent the election of someone so utterly unfitted to the office.

Today I will do what I can to stop Trump. Michigan has an open primary system which allows me, a Democrat, to vote in the Republican primary instead. And so I will.

While some are arguing that the only way to defeat Trump is to rally behind the candidacy of Sen. Ted Cruz, his policy positions make that an unacceptable choice for me. I will cast my vote for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the closest thing left in the Republican race to a mature, sensible, and pragmatic leader.

If you are a Michigan Democrat, I plead with you to cross party lines and do likewise. Hell, vote for Cruz or Rubio if you want, just not Trump. If you are a Michigan Republican, I plead with you to vote for any candidate but Trump. Not Trump. Never Trump.

Trump must be stopped. Do your part.