Rethinking America

Trump’s Foreign Policy: America Takes All

Trump must be exposed and mocked. We must not stop until his name and his brand, which are all he has, are worthless.

Credit: a katz Shutterstock.com

Takeaways


  • Trump is a BBB -- a buffoon, a blowhard and a bully.
  • Trump’s foreign policy is a series of boasts about what he will do to “foreigners” in America.
  • Trump’s bipolar world order? When he is president, he will be the winner and all others losers.
  • Trump never explains how he will make all his amazing wins happen. He just declares them.
  • Before the Trump Wall, there was the Trump Tower and the Trump Castle (casinos in Atlantic City).
  • Trump’s business plans assumed he would be exempted from rules that constrain others.

Trump is a buffoon, a blowhard and a bully, but he is also a contender in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It is thus high time to listen to him, particularly to what he has to say about his foreign policy.

It amounts to a series of boasts about what he will do to other countries and to (his word) “foreigners” in America.

In Trump’s deeply narcissistic mind, he is a winner and all others are losers. In his own way, he is thus a practitioner of a “bipolar” foreign policy. Losers are “weak,” of course, and Trump thinks he can dictate terms to the weak.

Trump’s bipolar world order

In Trump’s world, when he is president, he will be the winner and all other leaders will be losers, to be abused, dictated to, and made to pay up.

They can win a brief exemption from abuse by Trump with a few words of flattery directed at the Donald. Vladimir Putin, for example, is “at least… a leader, unlike what we have in this country” (this because Putin called Trump “bright and talented.”)

Conversely, as his fellow contenders in the presidential race now experience, a lack of willing subordination will bring new abuse and demands. That is the essence of Trump diplomacy at home and abroad and the core of his foreign policy.

Once he takes over, Trump promises, he will spread the Trump magic and make all of America a winner, like him. By his rules, the winner takes all. In foreign affairs, he would start with taking oil.

Oil imperialist?

“I am interested in Libya if we take the oil. If we don’t take the oil: no interest.”

“In Iraq, we stay. And we keep the oil.”

Saudi Arabia may get to keep its oil, if they pay up: “We defend Saudi Arabia. We send our ships. We send our planes. Every time there’s a little ruckus, we send those ships and those planes. We get nothing. Why? They’re making a billion a day. We get nothing.”

South Korea will pay up as well: “How long will we go on defending South Korea from North Korea without payment?… When will they pay us?”

Germany as a freerider?

Lots of countries will be coming to pay their tribute, literally, to President Trump. “We defend Germany, we defend Japan, we defend South Korea, we defend so many countries, and we get peanuts. We get nothing!”

Germany is probably the worst of the lot: “We’re defending Germany, and they are sending cars and everything they are making over there… If we’re defending people, they are going to have to pay for it… They aren’t doing anything for us.”

His “analysis” is obviously crude and ignorant, and Trump never explains how he will make all his amazing wins happen. He declares that it’s just this simple: he is a winner. He wins. Period.

Trump has been saying the same things for months and his crowds keep bellowing their approval. He is at base a salesman, and this talk sells.

Donald Trump understands trade the same way he understand alliances. In his mind, “loser” Americans like Obama have been hoodwinked by crafty, devious foreigners whom Trump will whip into line.

He will slap a 45% tariff on the Chinese. He has been promising for five years to put a 20% tariff on all imports.

Blissful ignorance

The one thing he likes better than a tariff is a wall. The Mexicans, who send their “drugs…crime [and] …rapists,” will be forced to build a wall (“big, beautiful…. We’ll call it The Great Wall of Trump”) and they will be forced to pay for it.

He will “quickly and cheaply” round up 11 million foreigners in the United States, put them on planes and fly them home.

Will a loss in Iowa be enough to derail him? He has lost big before. Catastrophic overreach and total misreading of reality are not new habits of his.

Before the Trump Wall there was the Trump Tower and the Trump Castle (casinos in Atlantic City) and the most grandiose and overblown of them all, The Trump Taj Mahal.

Like his foreign policies, his business plans assumed he would be exempted from rules that constrain others – that he would get lower interest rates, in this case.

He didn’t, and the Taj Mahal project collapsed within months under the burden of debt service. Bankrupt, he lost all three casinos and was forced to sell his planes and ridiculous yacht and shuttle airline. “I got out great,” he lied.

Trump: In it for himself

He will not quit because he loses. When he loses, he will deny he is losing. Trump has learned from his losses that he should label them triumphs.

Labeling is everything. He long ago stopped building things. Now he produces reality TV. His campaign is reality TV – implausible, substanceless, fascinating in its grotesque excesses.

Trump puts his name on things. He sells his brand. His foreign policy is just his brand stamped on the world – all attitude, no substance, pure arrogance.

Trump will quit when he can’t sell his posturing, when he starts hurting his brand. So far, he has enriched his brand, and so himself, greatly.

Ross Perot, another narcissistic billionaire with a brand, showed how to be a demagogue in America. Perot won 19% of the vote in the 1992 election, but because he failed to win the Republican nomination, he was forced to run as a third party candidate.

Even though he drew about half as many votes as George Bush Sr., he won zero electoral votes.

If Trump is denied the nomination, he can’t win the election, but the Republicans can’t seem to stop his march toward their convention.

To assist their efforts, there is ridicule. Perot folded when people stopped buying and started laughing. He crept away, muttering bizarrely that the Bush campaign had threatened to use digitally altered photographs to disrupt his daughter’s wedding.

He has spent his last 20 years silently sulking back home in Texarkana.

Trump won’t go silently. He must be exposed and mocked. His boasts are almost, but not quite, beyond parody. We must not stop until his name and his brand, which are the same and are all he has, are worthless.

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About Stephen D. Wrage

Stephen D. Wrage is a Professor of Political Science at the United States Naval Academy.

Responses to “Trump’s Foreign Policy: America Takes All”

Archived Comments.

  1. On January 23, 2016 at 2:20 am be'ElzA responded with... #

    You’re late to the party Steve. This article may have done something of consequence last August.

  2. On January 23, 2016 at 3:18 am Terry Washington responded with... #

    Donald Trump as President would have made George W. Bush seems like Franklin Roosevelt in comparison!

  3. On January 23, 2016 at 4:28 am tini responded with... #

    Folks, ordinary Americans are so pissed off with the establishment (elite) – of which the author is evidently a part – that they may indeed elect a Trump (or any other simplistic utopist) for President. However, the current establishment truly fails ordinary Americans in the bottom half of all colors. Most cannot better their lives and it has sunk in that the ‘establishment’ (Reps and Dems) will get them just more of the same. Currently dreams beat realism hands down – just accept this fact. So a lesson must be re-learnt broadly – that big promises always deflate. Only a few ‘professors’ can grasp this rationally. Ordinary folks require painful a past experience to make the point credible. This experience is now forgotten with most voters. Hence, the establishment is better advised to let Trump on and ensure he fails fast and surely with all simple minds feeling the impact than trying to prevent him. They will have a clean run thereafter with much reduced expectations in the public that are easier to fulfill. And if some establishment puppets deflate in the process it would be a collateral benefit.

  4. On January 23, 2016 at 3:27 pm Goldcoaster responded with... #

    is he talking about trump or Obama? remember that “we won” comment to McCain after obamacare was rammed through?
    how quickly we forget. trump is a threat to the status quo in Washington – politics as usual – and they will stop at nothing to beat him.

  5. On January 23, 2016 at 10:59 pm Billy Jean responded with... #

    We don’t want to have the mess like Europe. Vote Trump. Vote Hilary and America will fall like Germany.

  6. On January 25, 2016 at 11:55 am usetheguillotine responded with... #

    Why pick on Donald Trump? He is just the tip of the iceberg, a symptom of a disease that infects a failed political system, a political system which pretends to be a democracy, but isn’t. Trump will ultimately fail. Then the issues of democracy in the US will remain and will still need to be fixed.

    Some of us will watch with interest how far Trump can go on his quest. Perhaps he will be the Republican nominee. Theoretically, he could win the election and become the next occupant of the White House. All the problems will remain to be fixed by someone other than Trump.

    If there was a new constitutional convention, who would participate?

  7. On January 27, 2016 at 1:54 am aspone responded with... #

    I will vote for Trump because of this article.

  8. On January 28, 2016 at 10:05 pm aspone responded with... #

    Bullshit.