I’m no Donald Trump fan. In fact, I’ve been thinking of who I’d write in for president if Trump is the Republican nominee. What’s more, I was very excited by Sen. Ted Cruz’s announcement yesterday of Carly Fiorina as his running mate. She was my candidate at the outset.
Nonetheless, I have to be honest: Donald Trump’s foreign policy principles, as outlined in his speech yesterday to the Center for the National Interest, were not bad. In fact, some of them were quite good. He might have had a less-than-Lincolnesque approach to content and delivery of the talk, but I’m no speech snob. I can live with that. I know this puts me at odds with some here at RedState, but we’re a civil crowd. We can disagree without being disagreeable, to use that overused cliche.
Here are the principles Trump suggested would guide his approach to foreign policy (and a transcript of the speech is here, courtesy of the New York Times):
- Fixing the economy is part of foreign policy in that a strong economy allows us to use more resources to maintain a strong defense.
- Our allies who are not paying their fair share of joint defensive operations must step up and pay.
- We must stand by agreements we’ve made with our friends, so they know they, and the world, can depend on America’s word (unlike the current president, who insults our friends and gives aid to our adversaries)
- We must make sure our adversaries respect us and not open the door to needless humiliations abroad (such as President Obama’s trip abroad to secure the Olympics, which resulted in dismal failure).
- We must have clearer foreign policy goals: American interests first; stability, not nation-building; humanitarian approaches when necessary.
Trump went on to elaborate just a little on these various points, mostly criticizing the Obama/Clinton approach and the various foreign policy errors they’ve made that have destabilized the world and weakened America.
Was the speech eloquent? Heck, no. Was it lacking specifics? Absolutely — but the terrain can change when a candidate actually takes office, so broad principles are what we need to know now. Was the speech coherent and strong? Sorry, Trump-haters, it was.
As I said at the outset, I’m not a Trump fan. I loathe his tactics. I think he surrounds himself with shallow thinkers and thuggish bullies. But I believe conservatives do not do fellow conservatives any favors by not reporting as honestly as they can on what they see and hear. And what I see in Trump’s foreign policy speech are some sound ideas.
Libby Sternberg is a novelist.