Donald Trump

Trump Is Not the Peace Candidate

Don't be fooled by the false prophet of anti-interventionism.

|

In the ongoing authoritarian outrage that is the 2016 presidential primary season, many self-described libertarians are in an oddly celebratory mood.

"If Trump gets the Republican nomination the neocons are through as a viable political force on the Right," Antiwar.com's Justin Raimondo enthused at the end of February. "And if Trump actually wins the White House, the military-industrial complex is finished, along with the globalists who dominate foreign policy circles in Washington."

Raimondo was far from alone in his desperately wishful thinking about the coming golden age of anti-interventionism. "Only Trump's brash bombast can finally displace the toxic neocon ideology that has mutated the GOP into the handmaiden of the Warfare State," former Reagan budget director David Stockman wrote that same week. Paleoconservative godfather Patrick Buchanan chimed in with a hearty laugh at "the death rattle of an establishment fighting for its life."

It's not hard to see how the paleo crowd wound up here. After Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) exited the 2016 race in early February, Trump pivoted toward a colorfully blunt critique of the dysfunctional defense appropriations process, vowing in New Hampshire to hold the line on Pentagon spending by going after politically corrupt waste and profiteering. At the February 13 debate in the heavily military state of South Carolina, Trump called the Iraq War a "big, fat mistake" that squandered $2 trillion and "destabilized the Middle East," and he said of the Bush administration officials who prosecuted it: "They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none."

This direct attack on Jeb Bush and his family's interventionist track record, coupled with the undeniably true but apparently shocking statement that the "World Trade Center came down during your brother's reign," led many conservative commentators to declare, once again, that this time Trump had finally gone too far. When he promptly breezed to a 10-point victory one week later, croaking Bush and cementing himself as the only candidate with a real shot at winning the majority of delegates before the Republican National Convention, the conclusion was clear: Foreign policy, militarism, and even tear-jerking paeans to politicians who govern during crises—in other words, about 90 percent of the content at the 2004 Republican National Convention—were no longer safe political spaces for the GOP. Donald Trump is taking a battering ram to one of the Republican Party's core identities, and not a moment too soon.

By the end of February, at long last, the party establishment that Trump had spent eight months whipping like a cur began fighting back, with a #NeverTrump Twitter campaign, a withering speech from 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, and an open letter from scores of foreign policy specialists warning that "he would use the authority of his office to act in ways that make America less safe, and which would diminish our standing in the world." But that effort came off as both hysterical and hypocritical. Didn't the Iraq and Libya wars that GOP foreign policy elites backed do more material damage than the primary-season rantings of a reality TV star? Wasn't this the same crowd that thought nominating Sarah Palin to be a heartbeat away from the presidency was a swell idea? The jokes almost wrote themselves after the neoconservative commentator Max Boot told The New York Times, "I would sooner vote for Josef Stalin than I would vote for Donald Trump."

So you could see why longtime critics of American empire were talking themselves into enthusiasm about the Trump phenomenon. He was saying things about foreign policy that few Republicans dared previously to utter, and he was making all the right enemies.

What's not to like?

Plenty. The same candidate being cheered on by anti-war commentators is an open advocate of committing more war crimes. He favors deliberately targeting the family members of suspected terrorists ("I would be very, very firm with families," he vowed at the December 15 debate in Las Vegas). He wants to expand the use of torture, saying of waterboarding that "if it doesn't work, they deserve it anyway for what they do to us." Trump's troops will not only be "defeating ISIS big league" but also seizing its oil. He keeps repeating a wholly made-up story about General John Pershing dipping bullets in pig's blood and executing villagers in the Philippines a century ago—and he thinks Pershing's alleged behavior is worth emulating. When confronted at the March 3 debate in Detroit with the possibility that military personnel might refuse to follow orders that violate their oaths to the Constitution, Trump said, "They won't refuse. They're not going to refuse me. Believe me." The fact that less than 24 hours later he walked his bluster back slightly provides little in the way of reassurance.

Trump's domestic approach to keeping America safe would require erecting an unprecedented police state. In addition to deporting 11 million illegal immigrants and their 4 million or so legal children, he has proposed a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what's going on." In the wake of the San Bernardino terrorist attacks, he suggested "closing that Internet up in some way." As for National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, a hero to many anti-interventionist libertarians: "I will tell you right from the beginning, I said he was a spy and we should get him back," Trump said in Detroit. (For reason's interview with Snowden, go to page 42.)

Trump's policies, then, are anything but anti-interventionist. He offers a Jacksonian take on American belligerence, in which the already over-stuffed power of the executive branch will be wielded by a famously mercurial and off-the-cuff one-man brand.

And there's an even better reason to resist the lure of Trump's allegedly libertarian-friendly foreign policy. The best case against Trump is, ironically, Trump's case against George W. Bush. Which is to say, you can express the right instincts about foreign policy on the campaign trail, but if you walk into the presidency without much fluency in world affairs, aggressive interventionism is only one tragedy away.

Bush not only promised a more "humble" foreign policy in 2000, he rejected "nation-building" as a project suitable for the U.S. military. Neoconservatives were so distressed at the prospect of him soundly defeating their favorite, John McCain, that by the summer of 2001 many were openly considering bolting the GOP to found a new Bull Moose-style party.

People perhaps unfairly mocked Bush's malapropisms on the campaign trail—calling Slovaks "Slovakians," Greeks "Grecians," etc.—but it was clear that the plain-speaking Texas governor had not exactly spent the 20th century immersed in foreign policy concerns. When the planes hit the World Trade Center on 9/11, he reached for anyone who'd been obsessing about the Middle East. Those people, it turns out, were the interventionists. Soon his foreign policy followed suit.

Trump evinces very little understanding for how the international economy works, let alone the competing interests of nation-states. (To cite one of many examples, he bashes U.S. companies for opening factories in Mexico and China, and then when asked why his own companies make goods there, blames it on those countries for devaluing their currencies.) He makes pre-2000 Bush look like the editor of Foreign Affairs. When the world produces an unpleasant surprise—and it will—this ignorant Jacksonian will, too, reach for the available expertise and advice. The war party will march on.

As is demonstrated by the glaring example sitting at 1600 Pennsylvania, Americans apparently need to keep re-learning that even presidential candidates who vow to roll back the military and surveillance state will likely do no such thing. Libertarians of all people should know better.

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.

26 responses to “Trump Is Not the Peace Candidate

  1. Want to meet a girl? come on http://goo.gl/mxiosK
    the Best adult Dating site!

    1. my roomate’s mother makes $69 hourly on the internet . She has been without work for six months but last month her paycheck was $12327 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read More Here CHECK IT HERE????? http://www.elite36.com

    2. I’d like to meat a girl. If it doesn’t cost extra.

  2. Does Matt mean just paleoconservatives? What about paleolibertarians? And why was this even written?. Is Matt following the campaign or the paleos? For Trump, rebuilding our military … making it great again …is a frequently repeated campaign pledge. Here’s just one, for the flavor:.

    “”I will rebuild our military. It will be so strong and so powerful and so great? that we’ll never have to use it. Nobody’s gonna mess with us.”

    Conservative Post

    I grabbed the first conservative link Google served up. Search for (Trump “rebuild our military”) — with the quotes like that, no parentheses, to find the exact phrase.

    Or search for: “Nobody’s going to mess with us, That I can tell you.” He keeps repeating the same slogans and buzzwords, here like everywhere else..

  3. He’s still much less likely to intervene militarily than Clinton is, and I think he’d be about as bellicose as Cruz. Sanders would definitely be most hesitant to use the military, but he thinks food lines can be good a thing, so I’m pretty sure that negates his dovish foreign policy. We’re screwed. GayJay better step up his game and start actually trying.

    1. my co-worker’s sister-in-law makes $66 /hour on the computer . She has been without a job for nine months but last month her income was $18212 just working on the computer for a few hours. browse around this site????????????? Click this link http://goo.gl/JNLxe5

  4. Trump IS the peace candidate

  5. Trump’s policies, then, are anything but anti-interventionist. He offers a Jacksonian take on American belligerence

    A Jacksonian foreign/military policy is anti-interventionist outside of any threat to the United States.

  6. Start making more money weekly. This is a valuable part time work for everyone. The best part work from comfort of your house and get paid from $100-$2k each week.Start today and have your first cash at the end of this week. For more details Check this link??

    Clik This Link inYour Browser
    ? ? ? ? http://www.MaxPost30.com

  7. Cuck, cuck, cuck. ‘Cause Hayek and shit.

  8. Better for Republicans is the fake “Constitutionalist”.

    He has never mentioned the missing Drug Prohibition Amendment. Something the Republicans who voted against the 1914 Harrison Narcotics Act noticed.

  9. Trump’s domestic approach to keeping America safe would require erecting an unprecedented police state. In addition to deporting 11 million illegal immigrants and their 4 million or so legal children, he has proposed a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what’s going on.”

    If we hadn’t been playing open borders for so long, it wouldn’t take so many ICE agents to clean up the mess.

    With fewer illegal aliens, we’d be able to dismantle some of the police state, just as we’d need less “homeland security” if we barred Muslim aliens from the country.

    1. It’s cute that you think that.

      1. I know, right? The mind of a child.

  10. Trump Is Not the Peace Candidate

    Compared to who? Hillary? Cruz?

    What’s not to like? … [whole bunch of things having nothing to do with getting into foreign interventions] …
    Trump’s policies, then, are anything but anti-interventionist.

    Your conclusion just didn’t follow from the evidence presented. Even if we take your claims as given, it adds up to Less War, but More War Crime when we have one. That’s still Less War. Possibly still less total War Crime.

    Trump really is a less interventionist departure from the Neocons and Hillary.

    When the world produces an unpleasant surprise?and it will?this ignorant Jacksonian will, too, reach for the available expertise and advice. The war party will march on.

    … Americans apparently need to keep re-learning that even presidential candidates who vow to roll back the military and surveillance state will likely do no such thing.

    So, it’s hopeless? Impossible that Trump would be less interventionist?

    Hmmm, if the problem is “turning toward available expertise”, all of which would be interventionist, wouldn’t the Last Best Hope be the crazy guy who shoots from the hip, the guy who takes his own advice, the guy who said:

    “I speak to a lot of people, but my primary consultant is myself, and I have a good instinct for this stuff,” he said.

  11. Yeah, this is not really persuading me that Trump is not the peace Candidate [i]given the available field [/i].

    Clinton? Clinton’s never seen a war and intervention she didn’t like.

    This argument seems based on the theory that because he might change from the relatively anti war candidate to bumble into an intervention from ignorance, that we should instead embrace the “all war all the time” candidate.

    I’m not sure about you, but when I’m choosing a serial killer, I much prefer to go with two face than bane. Two face I have a 50/50 chance to come out perfectly alright, well, maybe a bit flustered and driven to more drink, but I won’t have a bullet in my head, while I know Bane is going to just break my back and leave me to slowly bleed to death or a cripple for life.

    I really shouldn’t have to explain who is who.

  12. Reason continually misses the point. No matter whom we vote for, we’re going to end up with a fascist dickhead in the White House. So people might as well vote for an entertaining one who will overturn at least a few apple carts. Instead of understanding this Reason continually bashes Trump, following it up with a plea to vote for a perennial loser whose main selling point seems to be that he’s a stoner, then lathering, rinsing, and repeating.

    Personally I haven’t decided whether to vote for Trump or continue to write in Ron Paul for the rest of my natural life. Our vote doesn’t count anyway. Colorado’s lack of a primary indicates they not only don’t have to count your vote, they don’t even have to be willing to accept it in the first place. Instead of bashing candidates for making noninterventionist statements perhaps Reason could write about things like that.

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail. +_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+ http://www.ReportMax90.com

  16. Start making cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8012 a month. I’ve started this job and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…

    —————- http://www.online.factoryofincome.com

  17. Start making cash right now… Get more time with your family by doing jobs that only require for you to have a computer and an internet access and you can have that at your home. Start bringing up to $8012 a month. I’ve started this job and I’ve never been happier and now I am sharing it with you, so you can try it too. You can check it out here…

    —————- http://www.online.factoryofincome.com

  18. before I saw the bank draft which had said $9426 , I didnt believe that…my… brother woz like actualy earning money part-time at there labtop. . there uncles cousin has done this 4 less than fifteen months and by now repaid the dept on there place and got a great new Mini Cooper . read the full info here …

    Clik This Link inYour Browser??

    ? ? ? ? http://www.SelfCash10.com

  19. I don’t think Donald Trump is the peace candidate. Nor do I think he is the anti-peace candidate. I have a hard time determining exactly where between the two he is. That is the problem. He is not consistent and few would claim that he is.

  20. Is there some gentlemen’s agreement not to mention the execrable Lew Rockwell, libertarian for Trump Walter Block, and the rest of the Mises Institute cult that has gone ga-ga for the dope?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.