#NatSec2016 Top Ten Reads, Ep. 3


1. “What a Hillary Clinton Nomination Means for the Middle East,” Al Arabiya English, Joyce Karam. People believe Hillary Clinton is a hawk, but Joyce Karam thinks the former secretary of state’s record in the Middle East proves otherwise. “The military disentanglement from Iraq, opposition to ground troops in Syria or Libya, and readiness to talk with the Taliban and negotiate with Iran, dismantle the narrative of labeling Hillary Clinton a hawk,” she claims. It’s a different argument from what you normally hear.

2. “Trump’s Left-Leaning Gamble on Foreign Policy,” Washington Post, Marc Theissen. In Thiessen’s view, “Clinton is campaigning as a center-right internationalist, while Trump is campaigning from the isolationist left.” As he says, this is a ploy to win around 40 percent of Sanders supporters. But will Trump’s gamble in the foreign policy debate pay off and get him into the Oval Office?

3. “Hillary Clinton’s Attack on Donald Trump’s Foreign Policy,” CATO Institute, Doug Bandow. Even if you agree that Trump is “temperamentally unfit” to be president, as Clinton says, Bandow believes that “common sense still occasionally surfaces in the Trump worldview.” As for Clinton, “she doesn’t require even that much justification for going to war.” So, the choice is: the thin-skinned “America First” guy or the neoconservative candidate who believes in America’s indispensability?

4. “After Clinton’s Broadside, Donald Trump Defends Foreign Policy Views,” CBS News, Jake Miller. In an interview with “Face the Nation,” Trump called Clinton’s speech and characterization of Trump’s foreign policy “ridiculous.” “I mean first of all, you know, she talked about that I want to nuke all of these countries,” Trump explained. “It’s ridiculous. No, I want these countries to pay for protection. We are protecting them. We have $19 trillion in debt, it’s very soon going to $21 trillion…And I want these countries to reimburse us at least for our cost. We’re talking about ultimately trillions of dollars over a period of time. And we just can’t be doing that anymore. This isn’t 30 years ago and 40 years ago.” No question Trump is consistent in his worldview, but not his policy proposals.

5. “Donald Trump is a Magical (Foreign Policy) Realist,” Foreign Policy, Micah Zenko. Zenko looks into Trump’s recent statements on the Libya intervention and picks out his comments about the “surgical” strikes he would’ve proposed. Trump says these “surgical” maneuvers would’ve stopped the carnage that was happening in Libya at the time. As Zenko sees it, “Trump seems to believe he can have it both ways with Libya. Calling for surgical force to achieve a maximalist objective.” That, of course, is not realistic (in the IR sense of the word).

6. “Why Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Speech is Almost Impossible to Analyze,” Washington Post, Daniel Drezner. Clinton’s speech came with much fanfare, but Drezner didn’t get much out of it. He did think it was “a good foreign policy speech,” but he also noted that her core argument was “I’m an adult and therefore note Donald Trump.” Therefore, there isn’t much to analyze. Still, he says, “it’s a compelling argument.” Agreed.

7. “Albright: Trump Would Flunk My Foreign Policy Class,” CNN, David Wright. Secretary Albright is a Clinton surrogate. Regardless, she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to foreign policy. She is also a distinguished professor at Georgetown University. So, when she says something like Trump “would flunk my class on decision-making in foreign policy,” it’s worth hearing her out.

8. “Clinton Campaign Hires Veteran as Deputy Foreign Policy Adviser,” Buzzfeed, Darren Sands. Bishop Garrison, a former Pentagon and Homeland Security official, will join the presumptive Democratic nominee’s campaign as a deputy foreign policy adviser. He will report to Laura Rosenberger who is the campaign’s foreign policy adviser. Garrison “is the recipient of a pair of Bronze Stars for two tours of duty in Iraq.”

9. “Top German Diplomat Pushes Back Against Trump’s Attacks,” Foreign Policy, John Hudson.  There’s some fight left in Europe after all. Hans-Dieter Lucas, Germany’s permanent representative to NATO, said “Germany is heavily engaged in all NATO missions…Engaged like probably not many others.” This is in direct response to Trump’s consistent charge that Europeans, and Germany in particular, do not do enough to ensure their own security and push back against Russia. How allies and partners respond to Trump’s accusations throughout this campaign, and if he becomes president, will be interesting to watch.

10. “Foreign Policy and the Presidential Election: The Democrats,” Houston Chronicle, Joe Barnes. Now that Hillary Clinton has sewn up the nomination, what did we learn in the primary about Democrats and foreign policy? First, military adventurism is, ironically, in the crosshairs. Second, isolationism is not an option, but the way a Democratic administration asks the United States to engage with the world needs a rethink. Finally, and not surprisingly, domestic policy still trumps foreign policy for Democrats.


Alex Ward is an Associate Director of the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security where he works on U.S. defense policy, strategy, and now focuses primarily on the presidential election and foreign policy. He tweets at @AlexWardB.

Image: Doc, CC

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