Donald Trump

Donald Trump Displays Profound Foreign Policy Incoherence on O'Reilly Factor

GOP frontrunner says voters want "unpredictability."


Appearing on last night's O'Reilly Factor,

YUGE Incoherence
Fox News

Donald Trump, the frontrunner (by a mile) for the Republican presidential nomination, was asked by host Bill O'Reilly about the fraying relations between longtime US ally Saudi Arabia and longtime US nemesis Iran, to which Trump gave a series of increasingly incorrect and/or incoherent replies:

I will say this about Iran. They're looking to go into Saudi Arabia, they want the oil, they want the money, they want a lot of other things having to do…they took over Yemen, you look over that border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia, that is one big border and they're looking to do a number in Yemen. Frankly, the Saudis don't survive without us and at what point do we get involved? And how much will Saudi Arabia pay us to save them?

First off, the US is already plenty involved in Yemen, with more than a billion dollars in sales of munitions (including internationally-banned cluster bombs) to the Saudis, as well the use of US military personnel offering direct "targeting assistance" for the relentless Saudi-led bombing campaign against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who overthrew the Saudi-backed Yemeni government last year. 

O'Reilly then asked Trump, "If you're elected President…are you going to bomb their [Iran's] nuclear facilities?" To which Trump replied, "Bill I want to do what's right…I want to be unpredictable. I'm not going tell you right now what I'm going to do…we have to show some unpredictability."

When O'Reilly asked, "Don't voters have a right to know how far you're going to go?," an increasingly agitated Trump snarled:

No because it depends on the circumstances. But the voters want to see unpredictability. They're tired of a president that gets up and says every single thing. We're sending 50 great young people over to Iraq and Syria. He gets up and says we're sending 50. Those people now have a target on their back, the president shoudn't have said that.

Does this mean that President Obama should not have announced he was sending 50 special operations forces to fight ISIS, but the fact that he sent them is ok? And if so, is that analogous to not announcing whether or not a would-be president intends to bomb nuclear facilities in populated areas? 

As Reason's Matt Welch noted last summer in his column, "The Idiocracy Candidate":

For a guy who complains that the media only quotes "half-sentences," Trump's real adversary is the full-length transcript. These aren't speeches, they're seizures.

Trump's inability to demonstrate any basic understanding of foreign policy or maintain a coherent thought during an interview with a sympathetic host like O'Reilly, as well as his ads promising to "cut the head off ISIS and take their oil," should make his candidacy a non-starter. In reality, his vacuous bluster might be what gets him elected. 

Kevin Baron writes at Defense One:

Americans are a fickle bunch in some areas. But when it comes to foreign policy there are some constants, some predictable leanings with political winds, and some truisms. Mostly, it turns out American opinions on foreign policy issues tend to be sensible and reasonable. And yet, what they appear to like most is exactly the kind of fiery rhetoric being spewed most loudly by one candidate: Trump.

Later, Baron quotes Dina Smeltz, a pollster with the Chicago Council:

If Americans sense a direct threat—terrorism is one, for Republicans; Iran's nuclear program is one—then they will support an intervention. But if it's something that's considered not a direct threat to the United States—like the war in Syria, like Ukraine—then they don't want to get involved…Also, if a formidable military power like China or Russia would be the antagonist, Americans also don't want to get involved because it would be significant cost. So if it's something that can be dealt with with air strikes or assassinations, Americans will support it.

Trump's talk about being "the toughest guy with the military" and starting wars that will end up being net economic gains for the US feed a perception that the US is threatened on all sides. It's this perception that dupes the otherwise "sensible and reasonable" electorate into believing it needs a supposed no-nonsense dealmaker like Trump to keep the country safe.

NEXT: Americans Overwhelmingly Support Police Body Cameras, Understand They're for Both Sides

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Donald Trump Displays Profound Foreign Policy Incoherence on O’Reilly Factor is an Idiot


  2. “I believe in the second amendment. It’s there written on the paper.”

    He also just invoked the ‘fire in a crowded theater’ fallacy.

    Constitutional scholar, ladies and gentlemen. Behold him in all his glory.

    This sack of shit couldn’t go away fast enough to suit me.

    1. Only a year and change until he’s relegated to the obscurity of the $100,000-a-night speaking circuit.

      1. Sadly, that’s the best case scenario.

        I predict we will never be rid of this odious person and his horrible spouse. They will be shoved in our faces for the rest of their lives.

        1. “Supreme Court Justice Obama”

          It’s gonna happen.

          1. I don’t think Hilldog would appoint him, too much animosity there.

          2. Actually, I think he’s more likely to wind up at the UN.

            I can’t see any President wanting to put Obama in front of the Senate to be grilled under oath.

            1. Well, not any Democrat President, anyway.

          3. No. He’d actually have to deliver work product. He’s never done that in his life and never will.

  3. I just don’t know anymore. About America, that is.

    1. I’m with you.

    2. What’s not to know? It’s in the shitter, and getting worse. Eventually everything comes to an end. Just sit back, have a few cocktails and watch it burn.

  4. Now he is puzzling over why the issue of guns is so partisan. He can’t understand why anyone would oppose ‘common sense’ gun control.

    Maybe, just maybe, it is because gun grabbers have destroyed their credibility completely by lying their asses off at every opportunity.

    1. I love that, after three years of losing on this issue, of increasing gun sales and greater support for gun rights, these people still talk as if they speak for the masses. They can’t seem to fathom that a majority of Americans actually disagree with them. Not just a sizable minority or a collection of powerful groups and interests; a majority.

      1. Yes the mass of peasants disagree with them but peasants don’t count.

  5. Hey Trump, I want someone who will rein in government power. You want the opposite. Fuck off.

  6. “””kind of fiery rhetoric being spewed most loudly by one candidate: Trump.”””


    What about Bush or Clinton or most of the rest.

    I know Reason is suppose to publish at least 4 anti-Trump articles a day but ignoring the other candidates who have long history of supporting wars overseas and pretending the Trump is the leader in such talk is pushing it a little too far.

    1. Its not like Hillary!’s speeches aren’t full of head-scratchers, either.

      Or free of drama. She’s been braced by victims of sexual violence at her speeches.

      Trump is easy pixels and clicks. Don’t be lazy, Reason. Stretch a little, put up some pixels on HIllary! and if you do it right, you’ll get the clicks.

      1. She’s been braced by victims of sexual violence at her speeches.

        Odd they would do that after their encounters with her husband.

        1. And someone (a legislator, even) who raised this issue is saying her family has been threatened:


          1. Let me put on my shocked face. This right here is why the left would love to disarm their political opponents, the mob works best when its targets can’t defend themselves.

      2. Reason is kind to head injury victims. They treat Matt Yglesias like a deep thinker and Hillary like a serious Presidential candidate. I find it touching and completely out of charicture for a libertarian.

    2. “What about Bush or Clinton or most of the rest.”

      Are any of these talking about seizing oil fields in the middle east? I believe Trump is the only one. The others may agree though are silent on the matter. What surprised me was how squarely Trump came down on the Saudi side of the issue. I thought that the American public was much more even handed and wary of what seem to be Saudi provocations.

  7. “But if it’s something that’s considered not a direct threat to the United States?like the war in Syria, like Ukraine?then they don’t want to get involved…Also, if a formidable military power like China or Russia would be the antagonist, Americans also don’t want to get involved because it would be significant cost. ”

    So is anyone paying attention to the fact that most of the candidates not named Paul or Cruz support enforcing a no-fly zone in Syria that will inevitably lead to shooting down Russian planes?

  8. I agree that Trump is a loud-mouth dufus. And the problem with Obama is not that he is predictable. It is that he is predictably lazy, weak and ineffectual in terms of setting a consistent foreign policy.
    We should be predictable. It should be easy to see when we will get involved, and when we won’t. I am not even talking about libertarian vs. neo-con etc. Whatever one’s philosophy in terms of international engagement, it should be predictable and consistent. It doesn’t mean that we always tip our hand in the specifics of what or when. But rather, that foreign governments know what is acceptable to us, and what isn’t. And when the POTUS says something, he needs to back it up. Or not say anything. Not draw a bunch of lines in the sand that disappear 6 weeks later.

    1. Obama’s red line was when he lost whatever foreign policy credibility he had. Not going in was the right choice, but he never should have made the statement.

  9. And this is different from the last 2 residents of the White House how?

    1. Bitter Clingers want their whiat GOP lackey in the White House even if he is barking mad or launches stupid $2 trillion wars.

      1. Welcome to Retardation: A Celebration. Now, hopefully, I’m gonna dispel a few myths, a few rumors. First off, the retarded don’t rule the night. They don’t rule it. Nobody does. And they don’t run in packs. And while they may not be as strong as apes, don’t lock eyes with ’em, don’t do it. Puts ’em on edge. They might go into berzerker mode; come at you like a whirling dervish, all fists and elbows. You might be screaming “No, no, no” and all they hear is “Who wants cake?” Let me tell you something: They all do. They all want cake.

    2. Because…..TRUMP!!11!!!!!

    3. Trump is mad, mad like a Nixon.

  10. He’s a fool.Stupid ,stupid ,stupid. Iran does not want to invade the Saudi’s kingdom,and they don’t want a hot war either.Both are playing games on the edges.It’s a religious conflict.We do not need to be involved,let them sort this out.BTW,anyone notice how the Israelis are sitting this out? It seems their not the big boogie man in the area any more.Sure,the idiot pals are brings knifes to a gun fight,but,that’s about it.This looks like Europe in the 15th-19th centuries.

    1. I posted an another thread. I completely support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. But I sometimes wish we could help move them temporarily to a new area. Then let the various factions of Islamists fucking destroy each other. Then when there aren’t too many left, move back in, take control of the oil fields and let Israel have ALL of its historic homeland in peace.

      1. “Then when there aren’t too many left, move back in”

        A land without people for a people without land. It worked out so well the first time. Like the man said…Stupid ,stupid ,stupid.

    2. You see, the Dim GOP mind wants to go into the Middle East and take charge, dictate who “wins”, and convert those goat fuckers to Christianity. The GOP is an authoritarian tribe just like those goat fuckers are.

      1. We already know you’re an idiot, you don’t need to keep proving it.

      2. Why do you come here and prove how damn ignorant you are? Take your team rp else where.

      3. Moral equivalence between the GOP and ISIS. Nice.

  11. No because it depends on the circumstances. But the voters want to see unpredictability.

    If that’s the case, then what is the point of making all those promises, Donald, dear?

    Just tell people “Vote for me so you can see what’s in me!”

  12. The Donald was making the rather uncontroversial point that you don’t want to be announcing your planned tactics to the enemy.

    1. Re: buybuydandavis,

      The Donald was making the rather uncontroversial point that you don’t want to be announcing your planned tactics to the enemy.

      Or more likely he’s simply hiding the fact that he doesn’t know what to do, either.

  13. This article is incoherent. Trump has a great understanding of foreign policy. His opposition to the war in Iraq and supporting islamists in Syria. His looking to work with Russia and stop the US aggression against Russia.I think Reason are Neo Cons in disguise.

    1. “Trump has a great understanding of foreign policy.”

      What surprised me was Trump’s willingness to side with the Saudi monarchs. Neocons and Reason readers, I would expect it of them, but seems intent on protecting Saudi oil from Iranian terrorists, if only to steal it later.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.