Donald Trump, in an interview with the Washington Post editorial board last week, explained his foreign policy views. Those views are a radical break from both traditional GOP approaches to the world and, more broadly, to the maintenance of both contemporary international security arrangements and the global economy.
Trump wants to reduce – perhaps dramatically – current U.S. security arrangements with NATO, South Korea, Israel and the battle against ISIS. He argues that Germany, South Korea, Israel and other allies in the Middle East should expend more in money and perhaps lives in maintenance of current security efforts in these regions.
Economically, Trump seems to want a trade surplus with every other nation on the planet, enforced by strongly protectionist policies in the U.S.
The Republican Party has long supported the security arrangements Trump now wants to reduce and has long supported relatively free trade as a means to international economic betterment.
Trump’s approach would embolden America’s enemies. He has already voiced kind words for the Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin. His willingness to consider reducing the defense of South Korea will be welcomed in the increasingly aggressive North Korea. His pledge of “neutrality” regarding Israel and “Palestine” may well embolden Iran and other regimes pledged to the destruction of Israel.
Economically, Trump’s protectionism would reduce the scale of international trade, raise the prices of consumer goods and slow international economic growth. In a recent survey of economists, 93 percent voiced support for free trade as a means of international prosperity. By siding with the seven percent opposed to free trade, Trump takes a position very much out of the economic mainstream.
Trump’s supporters seem to be aggrieved nationalists, who believe that a “fortress America” is a stronger America. If Trump wins the nomination, he would overturn almost completely the established foreign policy approach of his party. That is certain to produce a divided party and some sort of conservative third-party candidate in the fall.