Our Danish correspondent Henrik Clausen provides a European perspective on last month’s foreign policy speech by Donald Trump.
Donald Trump names the enemy!
by Henrik Clausen
In his foreign policy speech delivered on August 15th in Youngstown, Ohio, Donald Trump did something remarkable: He named our enemy. Also, he offered a detailed criticism of the foreign policy mistakes made by the Obama administration, and proposed a series of security policy initiatives to make America safe again. This article will quote and comment on key points of the speech.
Disclaimer: This article is not an endorsement of one candidate or another for the November elections in the United States. As the Russian President Vladimir Putin elegantly pointed out in context of the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom, voting is a sovereign decision of the American people, and no one else. This article is about political issues, their background and possible reactions, not about who takes care of them.
So, let’s get into the speech and look at what we’re talking about here:
Today we begin a conversation about how to Make America Safe Again.
That’s clear — and a worthy goal for the President of the United States of America. Now, what is the key point of making America safe again? The point is that currently America isn’t. The systematic undermining of police authority, as explained in books like The War on Cops is one major problem, but that’s an internal one, and would be a topic for a different speech. This one is about foreign policy, and how to rework it to obtain the peace and security anyone would desire.
Trump goes on to set this into a historical context:
In the 20th Century, the United States defeated Fascism, Nazism, and Communism. Now, a different threat challenges our world: Radical Islamic Terrorism.
The topic of this speech is threats from abroad, whether by Islamic State warriors, lone wolf terrorists, or agents of the Muslim Brotherhood. And given events in recent years, like the massacres in Fort Hood, Orlando and more (In the speech, Trump gives a long list of such attacks), it’s obvious that America is not as safe as it used to be. The Obama administration, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has not achieved domestic security.
But Trump does falls into a common trap here: He names “Terrorism” as the challenge. It really is a method employed by radical Islamists, not the heart of the problem. Daniel Pipes wrote a very entertaining article I Give Up, There Is No Terrorism, There Are No Terrorists about this problem — and how not using “Terrorism” actually improves the clarity of political analysis.
Dealing with the Middle East
The Middle East has been at the heart of the Obama/Clinton presidency, and Trump pulls no punches listing the destabilization caused by intervening there, and the results we have seen. Even Turkey, routinely supported as a primary ally of the United States, is now moving towards building alliances with Russia instead. The Middle East is clearly in a worse state than when Obama took office in 2009, to a degree that the Nobel Committee has expressed regret about awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize in anticipation of much better results. The Obama Administration, including of course Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has not achieved peace security in the Middle East.
Here is a line frequently misunderstood or misinterpreted in the press:
The rise of ISIS is the direct result of policy decisions made by President Obama and Secretary Clinton.
That has been interpreted to mean that the Obama Administration created the Islamic State, as some conspiracist thinkers seem to believe. But the sentence actually says that Islamic State came into being as a result of policy decisions, which would include the situation in Iraq and support of the insurgency in Syria.
Trump then mentions a lot of Middle East failures, and sums it up in this unsettling account:
ISIS has spread across the Middle East, and into the West. In 2014, ISIS was operating in some 7 nations. Today they are fully operational in 18 countries with aspiring branches in 6 more, for a total of 24.
The need for change of policy should be clear.
So, what does Trump suggest?
If I become President, the era of nation-building will be ended. Our new approach, which must be shared by both parties in America, by our allies overseas, and by our friends in the Middle East, must be to halt the spread of Radical Islam.
All actions should be oriented around this goal, and any country which shares this goal will be our ally. We cannot always choose our friends, but we can never fail to recognize our enemies.
That is pretty clear. We need all the friends we can get, and we need to recognize our enemies. And that does involve Russia:
I also believe that we could find common ground with Russia in the fight against ISIS.
Such common ground would probably include no longer escalating the situation in Ukraine, and bringing an end to the war in Syria — which can hardly be categorized as a “civil war” anyway.
An end to interventionism
But there’s more to this. The quote above is a challenge to the interventionist policy advocated by parties such as Council on Foreign Relations, and executed with great zeal by Obama and Secretary Clinton.
Our current strategy of nation-building and regime change is a proven failure. We have created the vacuums that allow terrorists to grow and thrive.
That must be considered a very fair point, considering the situations in Iraq and Libya.
Trump goes on to mention his original opposition to invading Iraq. It was a principle of Winston Churchill to not criticize bad policy decisions he had not argued against. Trump does likewise:
I was an opponent of the Iraq war from the beginning — a major difference between me and my opponent.
The issue of interventionism has haunted US foreign policy for decades, if not more. The difficult question is: Does military intervention in other countries improve security and prosperity of the United States — and if it does, at what cost in money, lives and moral high ground? There is a quite a range of views on this:
Ideological purists such as Ron Paul, who know little about Islamic law or the Project to Islamize America, believe that all our problems in the Middle East are due to interventionism. This point of view actually buys into the gripes presented by Jihadists, doesn’t identify the deception at play here, and ignores the strategic aims of Islamist thinkers and organisations.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have interventionist hawks such as George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton. Here’s one interventionist decision mentioned by Trump:
According to then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the invasion of Libya was nearly a split decision, but Hillary Clinton’s forceful advocacy for the intervention was the deciding factor.
Such policy decisions, and the responsibilities for nation-building they create, have been expensive and clearly lack the desired results: Peace and security abroad and at home. Exporting dollars, guns and trouble does not make for a safer world. Thus, the opposite point of view — and end to nation-building and the military engagement that precedes it, will make sense to many Americans weary of countless military engagements in remote countries.
One of the great press controversies surrounding Trump has been his suggestion, made just after the Orlando massacre, to halt Muslim immigration until it is clear precisely what is going on. The problem with that statement is that it would target quite a few innocent and peaceful people, where the problem really is ideology, not individuals — but most reporting on this remark failed to include the ideological perspective. In this speech, Trump says:
To put these new procedures in place, we will have to temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism.
A Trump Administration will establish a clear principle that will govern all decisions pertaining to immigration: we should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people.
That’s a bit of backtracking. In particular, Trump avoids identifying the problem as being Islamic, but he does go on to assert that the United States has the right to control who enters and settles there. There is much debate on this topic in the US and Europe. Trump settles this quickly by framing it as a security issue, and then moves on.
Naming the enemy: Sharia
Finally — and it took a while — Trump names our real enemy — the ideology, not the tactics employed. And proceeds to take a stab at the Clintons’ acceptance of a suspicious amount of money from donors in Islamic countries:
But we must use ideological warfare as well. Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of Radical Islam.
While my opponent accepted millions of dollars in Foundation donations from countries where being gay is an offense punishable by prison or death, my Administration will speak out against the oppression of women, gays and people of different faith.
Trump goes into a lot of detail, including an important point that is rarely made:
Beyond terrorism, as we have seen in France, foreign populations have brought their anti-Semitic attitudes with them.
That is a problem that should have been dead and buried in Berlin, May 1945. But it isn’t.
And then he goes to the heart of the problem: Sharia, and the intent to impose Sharia in America:
In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles — or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law.
Sharia vs. Western law
Everyone with a clear mind and a heart for freedom must be against Sharia, as this legal system — also in its own understanding — is opposed to such ideas as civil liberties, inalienable right and man-made laws (also known as ‘democracy’).
Countering this ideology makes a lot of sense, and cannot rightly be seen as an affront to the Muslims living under it — no more than countering Communism could be an affront to those people forced to live under it, and who were liberated from 1989 onwards. In his speech, Trump specifically mentions the so-called “honour killings” (Note: According to Sharia law, there is no punishment for killing your children or grandchildren):
This includes speaking out against the horrible practice of honor killings, where women are murdered by their relatives for dressing, marrying or acting in a way that violates fundamentalist teachings.
Over 1,000 Pakistani girls are estimated to be the victims of honor killings by their relatives each year.
Although President Obama has a degree in law, the profound differences between Western and Islamic law are willfully ignored by the Obama Administration, even in the face of direct evidence. The official report about the Fort Hood massacre, which disregarded evidence given by the shooter himself, is probably the clearest example of this.
Sharia is a totalitarian body of law entirely opposed to human rights, freedom and democracy. This has been made clear from the beginning of the work on the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, where Saudi Arabia stated that it is incompatible with Sharia Law, and later in the February 2003 Refah ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. Anyone serious about protecting human rights and democracy must work against any introduction of Sharia law, including against any organisation having such aims. Trump does well in naming this, which can be a guiding principle for what aspects of Islam and Islamic organisations cannot be tolerated.
Ideas that deserve debate on their merit
Summing up, these suggested measures do address real problems, real threats to the security of the United States and its allies, including the nations here in Europe. Independent security experts can usefully engage in discussions on these topics, analyze the background for them, challenge any problems found, and propose better alternatives where needed.
While some of the suggestions may seem provocative to those who do not understand the nature of our challenges, and in particular challenge the worldview of interventionist hawks, they are all of a practical nature aiming at solving actual problems. As such, they deserve serious coverage in the press, and to be challenged on their merits by other candidates, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the independent candidate Gary Johnson, who can usefully follow up on these topics in mainstream media.
Closing prayer: May this help the media move from the personal to the important: Political ideas.
— Henrik Clausen, Denmark
Your final sentence is a good summation of what is currently wrong with our media: ever since FDR, they’ve made the cult of personality their personal religion. One has only to read the fawning questions posed to Hillary Clinton to realize how far down the hole they’ve gone.
Even jornolism itself is about “personalities”. Jornolists as rock stars. And they can’t understand why more and more people are turning to alternative news sources…but Hillary has promised them she’ll take care of that when she’s elected.
I watched the foreign policy speech Trump made. He hit all the right notes, including the amazing use of some words that have been long forbidden by the current regime.
Let me tell you a story from when I was 12, living in Iran. I got my first exposure to American children’s television there – a puppet series named “Sesame Street”, which contained some rudimentary educational elements.
Anyway, what struck me as patently weird was the worship of – Franklin D. Roosevelt! It just didn’t make sense to me.
Much later, I learned about the Leadership Principle. Now that old observation does make sense, in a very warped way 🙁
There is such a person as Guy Smiley. He has a hill in Redlands named after him, Smiley’s Hill. Look it up on Google Earth.
Herbert Hoover was the greatest American president of the twentieth century. His ideas, especially his humanitarianism, were ahead of his time. FDR was fundamentally shallow and weak, and in love with himself. Somehow he couldn’t understand that Stalin was not impressed with him for having attended Groton.
Well, permit me to disagree about Hoover. As Rothbard pointed out in his eminent book “America’s Great Depression”, Herbert Hoover had a prominent position in the Administration during the 1920 Great Crash on Wall Street. Businesses closed, unemployment went rampant.
Hoover firmly believed that the Federal Government should fix that problem – I think that’s be considered a Progressive style of thinking. So he made plans and established committees to undertake great public works projects. Unfortunately for is grandiose schemes, the recession cleared itself out in just 18 months, and his plans stayed in the drawers.
But then came the Great Crash of 1929. Hoover had then become President, and could activate his plans virtually overnight. The effect was a disaster, for which he was rightfully swept out of office by voters wanting something different.
That ‘different’ turned out to be more of the same, much more. But FDR was more skilled at putting the blame with other, and had a very supportive progressive Administration (Diana West wrote about that in American Betrayal), so his policies managed to keep America in a depression until war broke out.
Is “Jornolist” the new GoV spelling now? Perhaps because they are no longer doing Journalism?
it’s about time that somebody called a spade a spade, even if that person does a comb over to hide his baldness.
I love that combover. He definitely has the bajillions that would permit him to get one of those state-of-the-art hair weaves instead. Or maybe he does and that is the result.
You aren’t allowed to say “called a spade a spade”; that is now considered racist, along with rice (too white) and devil’s food cake (too dark).
No, I’m not making that up. The preferred references are “said it like it is”, “grains”, and “deep chocolate cake”. Wish I could remember where I was enlightened on this – it was at the same place I found out a city councillor in Texas objected to the accounting term “being in the black”, even when it was explained to him that this was a good thing. Some people of color have been so traumatized by color and shades (oops) they want a no-color world. #TheHuelessClueless.
OK, Dymphna, from someone who has used both and can tell the difference, a Spade is completely flat and is used for loosening dirt ahead of the plow or the rototiller. A shovel has curved or bent sides so as to be able to scoop up dirt, gravel or whatever else.
What you are referring to is ‘spayed’ which is the removal of genitalia from pets and/or anything else that you do not want to procreate. Yes, I can tell the difference between that and a shovel as well. We do have a rather shameful past as a nation, don’t we?
Actually we have had a glorious past. A shining city on a hill and an inspiration to the world.
However, that shining city is now afflicted with parasites who eat their fill and destroy the basic fabric of society. Some are blood ticks, others are termites, and still others are fire ants. Yet all diminish the society. The blood ticks are the politically connected who use their positions to siphon money into their own pockets. The termites are the various interest groups who pretend that they are seeking ‘rights’ when all they are seeking is the disestablishment of social norms. They seek to destroy all the social norms that keep a society together… The last group are the fire ants, the muslims who are being imported to no go purpose in this society. And like all fire ants in the south they will ultimately eat the termites who seek to co-opt them.
Your snarky comment about “spayed” as a play on the word spade is a bit jejune. The reality is that many of those who criticize Trump are intellectual neuters who have been spayed (so to speak), because they resemble nothing so much as the Court Eunuchs of the Last Dowager Empress of the Forbidden City, useless functionaries of a dying state.
How did George Lucas ever get away with the line “going over to the dark side”? Artistic license?
This is so pathetic, Dymphna. When humanity’s common (black) ancestors lived in Africa, and indeed ever since, people have found the dark threatening. Hence black magic, black moods etc- and nothng to do with “race”!
I think Trump tries to be polite and avoid strong backlash from an already hostile media when he says things: “we have to examine it closer”, “we have to figure it out”… This is his way to avoid being directly quoted (out of context of course).
Theme song: Be Like The Donald …TRUMP (funky ’80’s style)
Sooner or later and more or less bloodily, Islam will have to evolve. It is a given that just as other powerful religions had to, it will have to. My problem with this is that this process is going to be a dreadful awful bore.
I live in suburban Minneapolis, and I am old enough to remember how wonderful life was in this city before our betters decided that 100,000 Somalis was just the ticket. Boy oh boy did we need them. After all, young white guys can’t drive taxis, and the fashion scene on the Nicollet Mall just had to have women in tents.
Living in the USA is an unrelaxed experience.
I do not believe Islam will ever be able to evolve. Let me quote you from Matthew Bracken’s excellent essay:
A meaningful or permanent reformation of Islam is impossible, because a new generation of fanatics, wielding the unexpurgated Koran and Hadith as their weapons, will always declare the reformists to be apostates and murder them. In Islam, the fanatics who are holding the unalterable Koran in one hand and a sword in the other always stand ready to seize complete power and exterminate their enemies.
unalterable Qur’an, yes, all 26 versions of it, and still counting. Oh, and by the way, the grand manuscript in the Ankara Museum is a palimpsest. I personally saw about 20% of the text was bleached out and then overwritten. Just ask Jay Smith.
Unalterable and unexpurgated? Not hardly, but if I say such things and question their ‘divine text’ I have my head handed to me and the rest of my body slumps to the ground dead. How convenient for them.
Ask yourself if fundamental Christianity has ever evolved? Seems that even people/religions living in the “enlightened” west constantly spew out fundamentalists, because they see something wrong with their life and they attribute it to not engaging in a pure enough form of belief. Islam will always be like this, and like a malignant cancer, will constantly spit out people who are fundamentalist in their world view. I have absolutely no hope that there is something called moderate islam, other than something that exists as a cover for the more radical fundamentalist view. The primary failure of liberals is that they are simply unable to see the threat this represents because of their false world view (all people are basically the same everywhere, and want the same things), and their desires for a moderate islam, that sees the world as they do.
Mr. Clausen, Russia is not anyone’s enemy. The Soviets were our enemies. Russia is vastly different from the Soviet Union.
Crimea and eastern Ukraine would be under Ukrainian jurisdiction at this very minute had Obama and Nuland not done their utmost to bring down the Ukrainian government. Russia would also not have acted in Georgia without being provoked. Russia is in Syria at the invitation of the legitimate government and it is clearly a limited intervention. We, however, have engaged in a pretend war against the ISIS scum. However, there is nothing pretend about the Russian campaign against ISIS and God bless them for rendering to us all a huge service.
It is the United States that is throwing its weight around recklessly, presuming to know what is best for countries in the M.E. and N. Africa. If the rest of the world doesn’t throw up at the constant reference to American “exceptionalism” and America’s “leadership role” I certainly do.
American stupidity is what should alarm the world not Russian “expansionism.” That is not your word but it’s the word being sold by the morons throughout U.S. society playing at statecraft. Oh, yes. Russia has its eye on Latvia alright. The dreaded drangski nach Osten is just weeks away.
Drangski . . . .
Huh? A _Drang_ by whom in which direction? If by Russia toward Latvia, it would be a _Drang nach Westen_, not a
And the suffix is -sky if the Drang is by Russia, or -ski if the Drang is by Poland.
Busted. Westen by the Ruskies effecting a Drangsky.
Thanks for that comment, which really puzzled me. I was wondering what passage in the article could be read as considering Russia an enemy – and I found it:
“That is pretty clear. We need all the friends we can get, and we need to recognize our enemies. And that does include Russia:”
From a grammatical point of view, the second ‘that’ in this sentence refers back to ‘enemies’, which logically leads to ‘enemies’ including Russia. That’s a mistake. If I had written “And that does involve Russia”, my intention had been clear.
Then, I appreciate your thoughtful reactions, and want to add that the population of Crimea, as well as the Crimean parliament (elected two years before the crisis) both voted for independence from a Ukraine that we had messed up severely (with aid from Soros, as usual), and implicitly to restore the post-WWII borders by returning to Russia.
It is disturbing that NATO lies about these matters.
It’s a great irony that I, an ardent cold warrior, now find much to admire in Russia and much to deplore in my own country, which is putting it mildly.
Last night I ran across a summary of the posture of the Soviet Union that refreshed my memory about what was at stake in the Cold War:
What idiots in the U.S. now pedal as the grave threat to our national security and world peace on the part of Russia is thin gruel in comparison indeed.
I wish the U.S. government would answer three simple questions: (1) why is it necessary to expand NATO to the frontier of Russia and (2) what are we doing in Syria, and (3) when did Congress declare war on Syria?