Donald Trump

Meet Donald Trump's Foreign Policy Team

A mixed bag of military contractors, a Jihad-panicked Middle East expert, and energy consultants doesn't tell us how a President Trump will do foreign policy.

|

Donald Trump has finally named his team of foreign policy advisers in an extensive meeting with the Washington Post's editorial team yesterday (after last week invoking the Li'l Wayne principle by more or less saying regarding foreign policy that he's, as Wayne rapped, "talking to myself, 'cause I am my own consultant"). 

mopaw via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

The Post reports that Trump literally pulled out a list of their names. That might mean they really aren't near the front of his mind. Trump also indicated more names of foreign policy advisers would be forthcoming.

Later yesterday, Trump made one aspect of his foreign policy more clear, after earlier hinting he wanted the U.S. to be more neutral in the Israel/Palestinian conflict. Now he's assured AIPAC in a telepromptered speech that he will stand behind Israel as our greatest friend in the Middle East, condemned and threatened Iran and said he's dismantle the Iranian nuclear deal, smacked down the United Nations and the Palestinians, and said when he's president "the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on day one."

Trump gave a more balanced view of his foreign policy thoughts during his meeting with the Post. He thought the Iran deal was a terrible giveaway and we should never have given back embargoed Iranian funds. He also said that "I don't think we should be nation building anymore" and expressed a general sense that our efforts and money should be going toward domestic woes and not foreign ones.

He talked to the Post about not spending U.S. money to defend other countries, and despite his frequently bellicose comments about ISIS he would not commit to sending over 20,000 U.S. troops to fight them even if that's what the military thought was needed, indicating he thinks other countries in the Middle East need to take on the burden of crushing ISIS.

He also evoked a general principle of "unpredictability" as a foreign policy good, and thus didn't want to commit to saying exactly what he'd do about various foreign policy situations—including refusing to say either yes or no to using tactical nukes on ISIS.

What might the records of these men Trump has identified as his foreign policy advisers tell us about what Trump's foreign policy will be? Trump himself has been alternately surprisingly critical of past U.S. interventions while maintaining an essentially bellicose attitude toward the Middle East at least.

The advisers are discussed below in the order Trump named them, not implying any one of them is more influential on or telling regarding Trump's foreign policy thought than any other.

Here's Team Trump, foreign policy division:

Walid Phares, a professor at BAU International University, who formerly taught at National Defense University and Florida Atlantic University.

Credentials: He's the author of many books about Middle Eastern policy and politics, including The Lost Spring: U.S. Policy in the Middle East and Catastrophes to Avoid (St. Martin's, 2014) and Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies Against the West (St. Martin's, 2005). He's been a commentator on terrorism and Middle East issues for MSNBC and Fox. 

What should the U.S. be doing with its military might in the world? In the introduction to Lost Spring, Phares admits that U.S. policy in the Middle East post-9/11 has achieved nearly the opposite of what it intended. He draws from that not a lesson of non-intervention but of wrong intervention: "The true catastrophe has been that  in the face of genuine (and long overdue) civil society uprisings, Western democracies have intervened late (if at all) and with the wrong partners."

He critiques the U.S. for abandoning "the surging Syrian revolt" and for refusing to sufficiently support "Green revolution" forces in Iran. He slams Obama for having "shifted away from advancing democracy" in the Middle East. His aim for the book, he wrote, is "to open the eyes of readers and policymakers to the dangers of retreat, both military and political, from the global battlefield with al Qaeda and its jihadi allies and the Iranian regime and its associates."

Not exactly the sort of noninterventionism some libertarians desperately see in Trump.  

Phares in general seems to fall into the "we left too soon, and didn't nation build with enough fervor" camp regarding the Middle East, which makes his only obvious line of sympathy with Trump an immense fear of Islamic terror's threat to the U.S.

Detail that will alarm many: Phares, according to stories from 2011 when he was a Romney foreign policy adviser in New Republic and Mother Jones, worked in a senior leadership position with a violent right-wing Maronite Christian militia called Lebanese Forces in the early 1980s, for which he was today slammed by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

National Review, for whom Phares has written quite a bit, insists this blame game is exaggerating the nature and extent of Phares' role with the Forces, and at any rate he cannot be connected to or blamed for the murderous excesses of a faction associated with them. To lay the blame on Phares would be to "discredit virtually all Christian Lebanese who were prominent during the conflict, even those who rose to the fore years after the massacres. The real target of such an attack is the Christian Lebanese community itself."

Carter Page, founder and managing partner of Global Energy Capital LLC, a New York-based financial institution and investment fund focused on energy investments in developing markets. 

Credentials: Former chief operating officer of the Energy & Power Investment Banking Group at Merrill Lynch and deputy branch manager of the representative office in Moscow. Adjunct Associate Professor in the Center for Global Affairs at New York University and a Fellow at the Center for National Policy in Washington.

What should the U.S. be doing with its military might in the world? If this peculiar little essay from last March in the Global Policy Journal is any indication, in which Page applies the philosophy of Rhonda Byrne's immensely popular pop-mysticism tome The Secret to U.S. foreign policy, he seems to believe that our own talk of war and destruction in some sense attracts the same from enemies like ISIS. It's a very peacenik essay, if in an occult manner.

He's also punctiliously multilateral where he sees the need for force in the Middle East, and while he is really, as befits his job, more about trying to figure out a peaceful way for energy and oil companies to keep doing what they do in the wartorn Middle East, he is willing to admit that our military costs influence economic stagnation. As per an instinct Trump already has demonstrated, Page is also very anti-hardline on Russia. 

Detail that will alarm many: For those suspicious of global elites in the Trump fan base, Page's membership in the Council on Foreign Relations.

George Papadopoulos, director of the Center for International Energy and Natural Resources Law & Security at the London Center of International Law Practice. 

Credentials: Former Ben Carson campaign advisor, former Hudson Institute research fellow, natural gas marketing consulting in the Mediterranean and Baltic, and, as the Post mocked him for listing on his LinkedIn, U.S. Representative at the 2012 Geneva International Model United Nations.

What should the U.S. be doing with its military might in the world? While undoubtedly Papadopoulos has opinions on that, I was not quickly able to discern much of a paper trail laying them out. In geopolitical terms, he is way more worried about how business, particularly business involving natural gas and other energy sources, can be done in the Mediterranean.

He has publicly cheered cross-alliances between Israel, Russia, and Egypt involving energy production and sales. He's not bogged down in ideology about "our friend Israel" or "our traditional enemy Russia" or "radical Islamist Middle East." He wants the energy to flow and sell, and that could be a salutary thing for Trump to be thinking about—as long as he isn't thinking about taking the energy sources.

Papadopoulos does have an interest in the study of suicidal terrorism, and made the promising observation in a 2011 essay that  we can partially blame the continued use of suicide terrorism on "the rather incompetent way in which the West has waged its war to undermine jihadist ideology…In spreading its ideology and keeping it virulent, AQ benefits from…the fact that US and other Western countries continue to be present in the Middle East, so Al Qaeda can continue to claim that the war against Islam is ongoing…" He was also in 2011 willing to consider cutting off U.S. military aid to Pakistan.

Detail that will alarm many: No lengthy professional history, having graduated from DePaul University in 2009.

• Joseph E. Schmitz, lawyer in private practice.

Credentials: Inspector General of the Defense Department during George W. Bush's presidency (he resigned in 2005 under allegations of obstructing criminal investigations), later worked for Prince Group, then the holding company for Blackwater Worldwide, the famous private security firm.

What should the U.S. be doing with its military might in the world? Schmitz has some scattered thoughts on some recent foreign policy controversies that give a sense where he's coming from. His thoughts on Syria in a 2013 article were that—only with proper congressional authorization!—we should perhaps aim military might at Al Qaeda allies among the rebels, not talk up eliminating Assad.  [UPDATE: Yet in 2014 he believed in the cause of supporting anti-Assad rebels so much he tried to spearhead a private attempt to arm them outside U.S. government channels, that never came to fruition after someone else involved was warned off by the CIA.]

He was even willing to note that perhaps we could just stay out of the whole mess entirely, and openly thinks in terms of "just war" theory.He's at least slightly soft on Snowden. He tends to frame his policy discussions in explicitly Christian terms.

That said, Schmitz also wants Congress to declare war on both ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood and all its affiliates.

Detail that will alarm many: Member of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (Knights of Malta), a Catholic group often linked to baroque conspiracies. His sister is Mary Kay LeTourneau, the schoolteacher infamous for having sex with a 12-year-old student (who she later married after serving time in jail for the offense).

• Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg (ret.), most recently as of 2014 a vice president of Strategic Initiatives at the Cubic Corporation. (That is, in its own corporate P.R. words, "a leading provider of realistic combat training systems and secure communications…[and] of training, operations, maintenance, technical and other support services for the U.S. and allied nations." He apparently left them and has no publicly known current job I could find.)

Credentials: A 32-year military career before going into private sector military-related jobs. He was for a time director of operations for post-invasion Iraq's Coalition Provisional Authority (recruited back into government service as he had been working for Oracle.) His military career also involved serving as director, command, control, communications and computer systems for the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and as commanding general of the 82nd airborne division, U.S. Army. He fought in both the first Gulf War and in the Panamanian invasion of 1989-90.

What should the U.S. be doing with its military might in the world?: Kellogg considers himself more of a management/technical guy. I was not able to find an extensive public record of policy judgments regarding foreign policy. In a not-deeply-explained way, he's on record saying that the first Gulf War proved we had learned the lessons of Vietnam

In Thomas E. Ricks' book on the way the U.S. botched Iraq, Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, Kellogg is quoted as admitting that the Defense Department did not have a plan for managing postwar Iraq. This sort of attitude could feed into Trump's continually stated distaste for nation-building as part of U.S. foreign policy.

Detail that will alarm many: His four years, 2005-09, working for CACI International, a defense contractor sued for its alleged responsibility for the tortures at Abu Ghraib (though the incident was before Kellogg worked there).

NEXT: A.M. Links: Terrorist Attacks in Brussels, Obama Speech in Cuba, Trump and Clinton 'Viewed Negatively at Historic Levels'

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 Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Probably less warmongering than Hillary’s team will likely be.

    1. Most definitely. I heard he was talking to Michael Flynn before but I guess he doesn’t make the cut. He could crush her from the left and make her look like a psychopath if he wanted.

      1. I read an interview with Flynn where he said that he feels it is his duty to give advice to any political candidate who asks, and that only Republicans had asked him. So, I assume that’s why he met with the Trump people.

        1. Could be. I have also heard that him and a lot in the pentagon are furious with Clinton, Obama, Powers for the their policy decisions and created so much space for the headchoppers to operate. Even was ignored that at the beginning of Syria a Sunni salafi principality was the goal of most rebels. thought maybe he was pissed enough to give all the dirt on Hillary he knows of.

          1. He will talk to anybody who listens, and he will do it on the record, which I find commendable.

    2. Yeah, the Dems aren’t even bothering to pretend to be anti-war anymore.

      I wonder if Trump’s stance on foreign policy is strategic… he uses rhetoric that suggests a harsh response to groups like ISIS and an aggressive foreign policy, but at the same time, when questioned on policy, he is possibly the most anti-war major-party candidate left in the race, possibly only more pro-war than Sanders.

      His rhetoric will please conservatives long enough to get him the nomination, and he’s already being demonized as a warmonger by the left. If, when he is nominated, he shifts focus on bashing Clinton’s pro-war stance on /everything/, he could easily make Clinton look like the more pro-war of the two. This might not win him /support/ from the Democrats, but since the Democratic Loyalists have already decided in their minds that Trump is a violent psychopath, forcing them to realize that Clinton is more pro-war might cause disillusionment with Clinton. Probably not enough for a lot of tribe-thinking Democrats to vote Trump, but enough to kill enthusiasm for her voter base, and cause Democrats not to show up to vote.

      1. Trump will absolutely destroy Hillary in debates on foreign policy and military interventions. Her record is simply horrible. I don’t know how liberals don’t see it. Wait, no, I do understand. They’re not actual liberals, they just like the gays and enjoy feeling good about siding with “victims” of “oppression”. Hillary’s never seen a foreign policy issue that couldn’t be solved with our military.

  2. Trump himself has been alternately surprisingly critical of past U.S. interventions while maintaining an essentially bellicose attitude toward the Middle East at least.

    So shout loudly and carry a big stick.

    1. Shout loudly and have tiny hands that make your stick look totally yuge.

    2. Shout loudly and overcompensate for a little stick.

  3. Informative. Brian alluded to it, but the most important adviser Donald Trump has is his brain.

    1. I thought it was the hat.

      1. Is it? Or is it actually the hair taking the lead?

        1. His brain and his dongle are all that he needs to fix the world. He probably just negotiated some deals with these guys in order to put their names on the list. They’re just figureheads. It’s so simple!

        2. Only NutraSweet knows. Seriously, don’t ask him. You probably won’t like the results.

          1. Your soul will get schlonged.

          2. You probably won’t like the results.

            Unless of course you enjoy projectile vomiting.

  4. Doherty, never expected a lil wayne reference from you

  5. Detail that will alarm many: Member of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (Knights of Malta), a Catholic group often linked to baroque conspiracies. His sister is Mary Kay LeTourneau, the schoolteacher infamous for having sex with a 12-year-old student (who she later married after serving time in jail for the offense).

    What a small world! That having been said, it’s a shame their father died without ever appearing on the Maury Show.

    1. You know who else is a Knight of Malta? Rick Goddamn Santorum.

      I guess what i’m saying is, it’s not THAT much of a thing for anybody to worry about.

    2. Holy smokes, that is one helluva wiki entry.

      “Early in 1982, John George Stuckle, an infant born on June 10, 1981, was treated at an Orange County hospital for an injured penis. A piece of hair was wrapped so tightly around the organ?”in a square knot,” according to one doctor?that it was almost severed.”

      Stick around for the quotes section.

  6. Not exactly the sort of noninterventionism some libertarians desperately see in Trump.

    All I see is a new hairstyle fad.

    1. I already said it was the hat!

      1. The hair will not be ignored!

        1. Fool! The hat styles the hair, it is known.

  7. Trump doesn’t like the Saudis. That is an improvement.

    He also recognizes that the Palestinian question can’t be settled as long as the Palis teach their kids to HATE Jews. So he actually is more balanced than past administrations.

    1. “he actually is more balanced than past administrations.”

      Our benchmarks are so high in the 21st century, aren’t they?

    2. Trump has a massive and well-deserved inferiority complex, and he doesn’t like anybody richer than him.

  8. “A mixed bag of military contractors, a Jihad-panicked Middle East expert, and energy consultants doesn’t tell us how a President Trump will do foreign policy.”

    So a story to report on your ignorance about the subject?

    1. Please enlighten us

      1. Who me? Did I imply I somehow knew more, or is this some kind of white knight thing?

        How about this though, are you sitting down? Trump just wants to be the world’s most powerful aristocrat and will say anything people want to hear in order to attain that reward. Just like all the others.

        1. Did I imply I somehow knew more

          I thought the implication was obvious.

          And yes, I white knight for Doherty on a regular basis. Although not so much since he lost the beard. Such a disappointment.

          1. Well then you can’t have missed the implication behind my secret code words “white knight”. Though I feel like an “obvious implication” is kind of an oxymoron.

            But no, my comment was just a snarky reference to the fact that any and everything will apparently be made a post to get a headline and photo of Trump on the blog, even a half-finished collection of research that can’t find a conclusion.

    2. A concise description of Reason Mags, lack of perspective and experience. “A Jihad Panicked Middle East Expert”? yeah good job Reason, way to point out that Jihad is not a problem within hours of a multi axis attack on the west.

      You folks are pandering D-bags…

  9. Yep, sounds unabashedly non-interventionist to me.

    1. How is it that politicians can keep saying things and then either doing nothing or the exact opposite of what they said, and people *still* somehow think what they say on the campaign trail–or even when in office–means a single fucking thing?

      Oh, that’s right: people are fucking stupid.

      1. You know the answer: we gotta support our TEAM!

        1. Look, this is the most important election of our lifetimes. I know because Tulpa told me. About the last election.

          1. Yes, yes, it’s ALWAYS the most important election of our lifetimes. Until the next one.

      2. There is absolutely nothing else to go on with Trump other than the bullshit he spews on the campaign trail. So while it might not match up with what he will do in office, it’s literally the only clue we have. So what else should we go on?

    2. Shut up, you dumb broad! If you didn’t have vagina in your ears, you’d know that when Trump @1:10 says “I’ll take the oil” he means “I won’t take the oil”? This is why we’re ‘going our own way’.

      Well, that and because queefing is disgusting.

      1. Actually, she’s quite hot.

          1. You’re going fake like you didn’t know Qi Fang was Miss Global China 2006?

  10. Phares

    Phares in general seems to fall into the “we left too soon, and didn’t nation build with enough fervor” camp regarding the ME

    He’s misguided on nation building – that Trump recently disavowed. BFD!!

    Page

    Detail that will alarm: For those suspicious of global elites, Page’s membership in the Council on Foreign Relations.

    He worked for a nonpartisan think tank that “promotes globalization, free trade, reducing financial regulations, and economic consolidation”. BFD!!

    Papadopolous

    Detail that will alarm: No lengthy professional history, graduated from DePaul in 2009.

    He’s young. BFD!!

    Schmitz

    Detail that will alarm: Member of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a Catholic group often linked to baroque conspiracies. His sister is Mary Kay LeTourneau, the schoolteacher infamous for having sex with a 12-year-old student (who she later married after serving time in jail for the offense).

    He joined a Catholic club, sister is a standup cougar. BFD!

    Kellogg

    Detail that will alarm: His four years, 2005-09, working for CACI International, a defense contractor sued for its alleged responsibility for the tortures at Abu Ghraib (the incident was before Kellogg worked there.)

    He worked for a company that once did bad things. BFD!!

    1. You have alot to learn about pants-shitting.

      1. It’s true, I was toilet trained before my 21st birthday.

  11. Was reading an article that said had Obama left 10K troops in Iraq as a tripwire the place would not be such a mess today. Obama pulled them out for political (re-election) reasons.

    1. And yet troops (so far, only1, but just wait) are dying there. That’s more tripwire than most interventionists need, although they certainly appreciate such ‘sacrifices’.

    2. Obama pulled them out for political (re-election) reasons.

      Can you think of any other reason why a politician would do something?

      1. It makes military and geopolitical sense.

      2. Blackmail? Anyone know how to install a server?

  12. This is actually mildly encouraging. What’s Hillary’s group look like?

    1. Image the group you’d get if you had a nightmare about people running US foreign policy. Take out the least corrupt and those who openly identify as Repoblican.

  13. So basically the “anti establishment candidate” foreign policy team isn’t all that different from teams past such as Bush Jr and Obama.
    Walid Phares is a complete hawk, I mean look at this assholes resume.

    1. But Trump sometimes says things about not being a hawk!

  14. All this doesn’t much matter, you’re trying to figure out what Trump’s going to do once he takes office and, hell, even knowing exactly what a politician says he’s going to do isn’t much of a guide to what he’s actually going to do. Trump’s pretty vague on what’s he’s going to do because Trump doesn’t know what he’s going to do, he’s just going to wing it on a day-to-day basis and try to do “great things”. Which is pretty much what they all do but Trump’s just more upfront about it. It all comes down to who do you trust to do the right thing about whatever problem pops up on any given day? It sure as hell ain’t Donald Trump for me.

    1. Ted Cruz? HRC? Both excellent choices compared to Trump.

  15. Tweet from Travel Gov:
    US citizens in #Brussels, take the appropriate steps to bolster your personal security. Monitor local media belgium.usembassy.gov/security_messa?

    1. If only some device existed that would allow for effective personal defense.

  16. To be fair, if you required me to put together a foreign policy brain trust to advise me on all the things in this big beautiful world, I’d probably hire something like this. Policy wonk/gadflys and lobbyists.
    Though I’d definitely include my Guatemalan massage therapist for the Latin American perspective.

  17. my buddy’s step-mother makes $89 /hr on the laptop . She has been fired for seven months but last month her income was $19439 just working on the laptop for a few hours. you could check here

    ? ? ? ? http://www.ReportMax90.com

  18. I saw the name Joseph Schmitz and said to myself, “What a coincidence; he has the same name as the guy I voted for for president in 1972.” Imagine my surprise when I learn that he is the *son* of the guy I voted for for president in 1972.

    This, of course, leads me to wonder about George Papadopoulos’s family connections (see http://www.economist.com/node/219259).

  19. I’ve made $76,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student.I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money.It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it.

    Open This LinkFor More InFormation..

    ??????? http://www.selfcash10.com

  20. Apologists for Islam….

    There is no Good Islam and no Bad Islam, as Muslim leaders occasionally trouble to tell us. The distinction that our leaders make between Good Islam and Bad Islam is not theological, but pragmatic. They dub whatever is shooting at us right now Bad Islam and assume that everything else must be Good Islam. That is the fallacy which they used to arrive at their Tiny Minority of Extremists formula.
    There is no Tiny Minority of Extremists. Behind the various tiny minorities of extremists are countries and billionaires, global organizations and Islamic banks. Outsourcing our counterterrorism strategy to the countries and ideologies behind the terrorists we’re fighting isn’t a plan, it’s a death wish.
    The Jihad isn’t coming from some phantom website. It’s coming from our Muslim allies. It’s coming from Pakistan, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. It’s coming from the Muslim Brotherhood and its front groups. It’s coming from the moderate Muslim leaders that our leaders pose with at anti-extremism conferences. And it’s coming from the mosques and homes of the Muslims living in America. There is no Good Islam. There is no Bad Islam. There is just Islam. There is just the Quran.
    http://sultanknish.blogspot.co…..islam.html

    1. Dude, have you even seen Star Trek?

      Because Star Trek is WAY better than Islam.
      The truths and mysteries that one can only understand from the documented voyages of the Starship Enterprise, are far more beautiful and profound than any of your crude superstitions.

      And seriously, Captain Kirk would beat the living shit out of Mohammed in hand to hand combat. Even Allah himself is no match for Spock and his perfect Vulcan logic.

      Have you even seen the Enterprise? That alone wrecks Islam’s shit.

  21. “and said when he’s president “the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on day one.” ”
    When did those days happen? Israel got special treatment for almost 70 goddamn years.

    1. Yeah. Of course. The folks determined to kill all the Jews they can are exactly equal to the Jews and should be treated accordingly.

  22. I’ve made $76,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student.I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money.It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it.

    Open This LinkFor More InFormation..

    ??????? http://www.selfcash10.com

  23. I’ve made $76,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student.I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money.It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it.

    Open This LinkFor More InFormation..

    ??????? http://www.selfcash10.com

  24. I’ve made $76,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student.I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money.It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it.

    Open This LinkFor More InFormation..

    ??????? http://www.selfcash10.com

  25. hey, Meet Donald Trump’s Foreign Policy Team is quite interesting.
    Here we are also having a very interesting topic check All india results online 2018
    Up Board12th Results 2018 Mp Board12th Results 2018 Haryana Board12th Results 2018

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.