Donald Trump

Trump's Big Foreign Policy Speech: 3 Good, 3 Bad Things from Libertarian Perspective


Donald Trump's bigthink foreign policy speech today, hosted by the Center for National Interest in D.C., was only the second major address he's given from a teleprompter. (The first was also foreign policy related, to AIPAC back in March.) That could have been a sign that he or his advisers (if he listens to any) wanted to make sure he stayed soberly on message, that is, was less of the wildcard Trump voters seem to love so much.

Christopher Dick via / CC BY-NC-SA

The speech was no retreat to establishment normalcy for Trump. While the sense one gets of his character and how his mind works from his campaign make it hard to believe he'll be solid on his apparent good instincts, the speech mostly stuck to and extended who Trump has already seemed to be on foreign policy writ large (not just the parts about the military) and had aspects both encouraging and discouraging to the libertarian anti-interventionist.

For the encouraging (and the overall caveat that specifics of believable followthrough are all mysteries right now):

1) He recognizes the mistakes of nation building and is aware of the potential dangers that arise from intervention. Specifically critiques Libya and Iraq interventions and the concept of nation building or enforcing Western democracy around the globe by force. (As a side note, he specifically though not by name called out past cadres of GOP foreign policy mavens who supported such interventions and more as people who would have no place in his administration.)

2) He's set on getting military allies to bear more of the financial burden of defending the world. There is no good reason that our debt-riddled country should take it upon itself to use its military, spread around the globe, to defend the globe mostly at our expense. Allied to that should be rethinking the very notion that we have far flung allies who we must go to war on behalf of at whoever's expense, though it's unclear how close he is to that conclusion. He did not repeat past comments about NATO being obsolete today.

3) He's at least capable of saying that peace and prosperity are overriding goals and that the globe is overly weaponized. Whether the context makes one able to give it much credit, it is nice to hear a major party candidate say "Unlike other candidates, war and aggression are not my first instinct. You can't have a foreign policy without diplomacy and caution and restraint are truly signs of strength."

For the discouraging:

1) His continued obsession with the idea that relatively free trade with China, Mexico, or others is some sort of unmitigated bad. Expressed here with the especially alarming strongman declaration that businesses that dare try to manufacture overseas will be in some way brought to heel by a Trump administration. In the same vein, his sense that freer immigration is also something we must avoid all represent the dark side of an "America First!" attitude that mistakenly believes that on the whole immigration or trade are "bad for America." (He's stressing policies for the American worker as opposed to the American consumer are key to where he goes wrong here.)

2) His clear statement that he does intend to promptly start or extend another war in the Middle East, against ISIS. Either from strategic sense or realization he has no particular idea how to do it, he privileges the idea that of course you don't say how or when, though he insists it would be soon. But he swears he will crush ISIS, which did arise to a large extent from the aftermath of past U.S. interventions. He doesn't want to nationbuild, so it is unclear how he can be so sure that a swift and unpredictable but absolutely certain ISIS crushing won't leave, either the next year or next decade, an even more maniacal and dangerous Middle East and that perhaps absent continued homeland assaults, wiping out radical Islam overseas isn't necessarily an intelligent necessity for direct U.S. interests, or even possible. Similarly, his "no Iran nuke under any circumstance" stance could easily presage yet another Middle East war.

3) His belief that the biggest spending military in the world by insane margins is somehow not spending enough, and vowing to spend more on it.

There were other random inconsistencies or ironies in the talk, such as leading with the historically charged, neocon-alarming term "America First!" then instantly praising the wars with Germany and Japan that that original movement preferred we tried to keep out of; mixing calls for stability with calls for unpredictability; mixing stubborn imperial hubris and obsession over dumb symbolic alleged lack of respect for the U.S. that likely get his populist base's blood boiling with a supposed overarching love for peace that is ill served by being so chip-on-shoulder about dumb shit. 

But he is still saying things that actually make some sense of the fact that some libertarian noninterventionists openly consider him the best of a set of bad major party choices.

NEXT: Revealed: Donald Trump Got His Immigration Policy From Ann Coulter

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  1. His belief that the biggest spending military in the world by insane margins is somehow not spending enough, and vowing to spend more on it.

    But it’s going to be a very tasteful military. Very classy.

    1. Hugo Boss uniforms?

      1. Gold-plated tanks to blind our enemies.

        1. And UUUUGE!

        2. I was thinking green leather with red stripes and brass buttons down one side topped off with a gold football helmet. That or something in black and grey with an eagle emblem.

    2. His first act in office should be to build a wall around Queens to keep his realtves from escaping.

    3. Less than 3.5% of gdp and falling is insane margins. Let’s just conscript like china does and eliminate other personnel benefits. That’s over $100BB right there. What, we don’t like that answer?

  2. Ah, shit. Someone said good things about Trump. Run for cover, everyone!

    1. He got “and”, “but” and “the” correct?

  3. Ok, fair enough. Now tell us about the 3 things in Hillary’s foreign policy that might be encouraging to libertarians? I’m waiting…

    1. She doesn’t demand a taxpayer provided email server?

      1. You have to do better. We have to start building a libertarian case for Hillary, Bernie’s almost gone. We best get busy if we’re going to find at least one thing about Hillary that’s good for libertarians, we only have about 6 months left.

        1. There’s rumors that she’s ill, and she might not last even one full term? Caveat: her veep pick is likely to be shitty as hell.

          1. She should pick Biden.

            1. I also think that Trump should pick Biden. So should Cruz, Kasich, and Sanders.

              1. I was thinking it should be a unity ticket to heal the country. Clinton-Trump vs Trump-Clinton.

              2. Pick Biden definitely good for the lulz. Just imagine Trump and Biden, 24/7 lulz, we’ll never be lacking in lulz again after 4 years of those 2 clowns.

              3. Really Biden should just be appointed VP for life. It’ll provide endless more lulz thanks to The Onion, and he’ll serve as assassination insurance regardless of who wins. Plus, think of all the time that will be saved when the candidates don’t have to pick a running mate anymore, and no more VP debates (although I supposes they could have Biden just debate himself while hopped on meth and ‘ludes).

                1. I enthusiastically agree!

                  Biden should be forced to switch parties to match the President’s though.

                2. Personally, I would like to see Veep go back to the way our forefathers did it. Winner gets Presidency, loser is Veep.

          2. She’s going to pick Warren.

            1. An all-chick ticket?

              I doubt it. No regional appeal, not needed for “ooh, look at our candidate’s vagina” signalling.

              She’s vaguely lefty, so maybe if they want to throw the Berntards a bone.

            2. Sanders is hinting he’d pick Warren.

            3. Since it’s rumored Cruz is going to tab Fiorina, I want to see Trump counter the female pick with Ann Coulter. That could be an interesting 4 years.

              1. She’s going to need some new dresses from monica.

          3. There must be something wrong with her. She’s got more money than she can ever spend and surely has the best doctors, and they can’t control her coughing fits for even 30 minutes or less? Yeah, something’s wrong there. It’s not allergies or acid reflux, or anything benign like that.

            1. The xenomorph is about ready to burst from her chest.

              1. It will pick Biden for a running mate and sweep 48 states.

              2. *sigh* “It’s a bug hunt…”

            2. My mother used to cough a lot until we found out her heart was failing and thus allowing fluids into the lungs since it couldn’t keep up. she needs to see a heart specialist soon. Or not.

              1. Right!
                Hillary has a heart?
                Good one!

        2. The libertarian case for Hillary is that she’s likely to have a stroke and die in office, thus putting us closer to chaos.

          I can’t come up with anything else that doesn’t involve a president being imprisoned while in office.

          1. I don’t want her to die in office because the left would then martyr her and still blame the vast right wing conspiracy for her death.

            1. That’s a valid point.

              So in retrospect, there is no libertarian case for Hillary.

    2. She won’t send military forces into Libya?

      1. Yes, she will. Just wait. the Obama administration may even soon. there are already special forces on the ground

        1. It was a joke about murder rape, MP.

          1. Huh? **whoooosh** over my head.

      2. She will send advisors, though.

        1. They’ll advise the shit out of that country until there’s no one left to advise. And then blame a youtube video.

      3. She won’t send military forces into Libya?


        I think that I saw what you did there.

    3. Ok, fair enough. Now tell us about the 3 things in Hillary’s foreign policy that might be encouraging to libertarians? I’m waiting…

      1) Some of her foreign policy goals will be blocked by a sufficient number of Republicans (not because they don’t support them, but because she identifies as a Democrat).
      2) The Federal Government will default on its crushing debt before she can achieve Pax Americana during her presidency.
      3) There is nothing in her foreign policy agenda that directly interferes with any of us finding our very own Lobster Girl.

      What do you think, Hyperion?

      1. I’m about ready to stop thinking for the day. Those are all good, but none can be directly attributed to Hillary, they’re just things that could happen regardless of or in spite of Hillary.

    4. “Now tell us about the 3 things in Hillary’s foreign policy that might be encouraging to libertarians?”

      1. At least the democrat president is /honest/ about being insanely gung-ho pro-war this time, unlike the last president who assured us he was anti-war at the same time he waged wars without congressional authorization.

      2. Having a neocon democrat for prez might convince millennials to stop backing the democrats. Sure, they’ll go third party socialist, but at least the democratic party will be weaker.

      3. Might prompt one of those moments in American history where the partisan instincts of the two-party system cause the parties to reverse on an issue. Unlikely, but there’s a glimmer of hope that an insane warmongering Clinton presidency might make the Republicans go back to questioning foreign adventurism like they did pre-W Bush.

      Overall, Trump has some good things to say on foreign policy, but a Clinton Foreign Policy is only good in hoping that it brings down the entire system.

    5. The last two candidates we elected who promised a more modest foreign policy were Bush and Obama.

      If you really want a more peaceful world, go with the guy who promises to start wars all over the place. I’m only half kidding.

  4. Sounds like a pretty serious plan to me dude.

  5. This analysis is a waste of time. There is no reason to suspect that if Donald Trump says “A” today, he won’t say “Not-A” tomorrow.

    1. Yeah, if you don’t like what he’s saying, why just wait until tomorrow.

    2. I wonder if the day after he has one of his loosely coherent epiphanies and deschedules cannabis, if he changes his mind and puts it back on? That would probably kill his populist meme.

  6. *3 Great things you’re going to love, 3 Bad!


  7. *3 Great things you’re going to love, 3 Bad!


    1. Squirrels are jealous of how classy I am. Sad!

      1. Don’t worry, lap; we all know you’re rad!

  8. Someone ask the Donald what’s a libertarian. I don’t think he can answer that question. I wonder if he’s ever even heard the term before. Even if he has, he still won’t have a coherent response. Will Donald be courting libertarians? No, that is not something that major candidates care about, Gary Johnson’s 1% of the vote is not something they are going to put forth any effort for. To cut to the chase, outside of the libertarian party, libertarians are something no politician gives a 2nd thought to.

    1. He is a libertarian…the grandest, most luxurious libertarian you’ll ever see. One who is good with words, even. And he has nice, big hands–normal sized hands, if you know what I mean. Yes, he is libertarian; he is for libertarianism, but it has to be fair libertarianism. A libertarianism that makes sure that everyone can depend on the government to bring back jobs and keep us safe from the immigrants.

    2. Nick Gillespie: “Hey Donald, what do you think of libertarianism?”

      Donald Trump: “I like it. A lot of good things. I don’t want to talk to you now, but a lot of good things, a lot of good points.”

      He’s heard the term before, at least.

  9. My mama always said, “Sometimes Trump’s like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

    1. Better than even odds he’s nothing but that nasty piece of chocolate with like toothpaste in it.

      1. A chocolate covered cherry where the cherry’s been replaced with 2 month old mayonnaise.

        But at least it’s the classiest, most elegant, artisinal mayonnaise.

        1. If you start another mayonnaise argument in this thread, i swear to god…

        2. And don’t get me started with those Just Mayo jerks. Those bums ought to be ashamed of themselves – ashamed!

    2. I like your mama’s logic, I have to concur.

      1. His mother has many likeable qualities.

        1. Like giving road head to Burt Reynolds and washing her mouth out with coors light?

          1. Not even the original banquet beer? How trashy.

    3. Hillary would just outright ban chocolate because of sugar.

    4. My mama say Trump is de debbil!

      1. You been playing the foozball again with all your fancy foozball friends? I invented the internet, Al Gore is de debil!

        1. They ever catch that gorilla that escaped from the zoo and punched you in the eye?

          1. A woman looked out her kitchen window one day and saw a gorilla in her tree, so she called animal control. A small van pulled up and a man got out carrying a baseball bat and a rifle, and walked up to the house followed by a dog.

            “The gorilla is in a tree in my back yard,” the lady informed the animal control man.

            “I’m going to climb up the tree and knock the gorilla to the ground,” he said. “Then the dog is going to grab the gorilla by its balls, drag it over, and throw it into the van.” He handed her the rifle.

            “What’s this for?” she asked.

            “If the gorilla should happen to throw me out of the tree, shoot the dog.”

  10. Aren’t 2a and 3b contradictory?

    1. Your point? He’s a wannabe politician and Donald Trump.

  11. Trump is against the Iranian Nuclear material reduction treaty — because Obama was born in Kenya.

    That is pretty damned anti-libertarian. Not sure if it was mentioned in his speech for idiots today though.

    1. Hey Weigel! You know that we’re still waiting for that evidence of you paying up your lost wager, right?

    2. Is Iran actually complying? Just curious. Their mullahs are sort of whacked in the cerebral cortex.

      1. Yes. They actually decided selling oil was more important than flexing at Israel and the Saudis.

        1. Huh. I thought I recently heard an Obama lackey say Iran was “legally complying but was not complying with the spirit of the agreement”.

        2. Pay up, fucknugget.

        3. Maybe the Iranians can settle your bet and provide some evidence.

      2. Is Iran actually complying?

        Not really, no.

    3. I think the only rational policy for a foreign nation is to get nukes ASAP. Otherwise you get murder-raped when you disarm.

      1. No major power can actually give up their nukes now. The mutual self destruction thing actually works. Although to be perfectly honest, I’m more than a little terrified that Hillary will push the button and destroy the entire planet. All of these folks worried about the planet, should worry about Hillary and not global warming.

        1. The only way she tries to fire a nuke is if she goes full dementia…oh shit.

        2. Keep her at a safe distance, or her goiter might hit the button by accident!

        3. Yeah, the constant rattling of Russia’s cage so Lockheed can sell more weapons systems, and insane NATO allies like Turkey, could get us in a situation where, opps, we lost Houston, Denver, and San Francisco.

    4. Well, hello there! How’s the donation evidence collection coming?

  12. Fiorina will be Cruz’s running mate “if” he wins the nomination.…..09baef5657

    I can smell the desperation from 2000 miles away.

    1. She wasn’t very popular when she ran for president. If he’ll pick Rand Paul, that’s probably the only thing I can think of that might steal my vote away from Johnson. It still wouldn’t be a vote for Cruz. It would be a vote for Rand and hoping Cruz is abducted by aliens, or something like that.

      1. and hoping Cruz is abducted by aliens

        They don’t want him. Why do you think they exiled him here in the first place?

      2. GayJay is NOT going to be the LP nominee.

        1. No? Who will it be?

          1. Which of them is pro-life?

    2. Cruz-Fiorina:

      I, Czar of ruin

    3. Look at that face, is that a face that you’d want to have as VP?

      My prediction: Donald picks some wannabe Euro-trash model/ actress as his running mate. Because class. What’s Kim Kardashian up to? Is she available?

      1. The last I heard, Kim Kardashian’s mobile app social-climbing game was bringing in $1 million a week.

  13. What about stealing their oil to pay for the Iraq Debacle? Did the blowhard go there again?

    That one is amusing and appeals to the felon element of the GOP.

    1. Don’t cry now, poor buttyplug, I know your master is almost gone, but don’t forget you have cankles to lick.

    2. I, for one, can’t wait to see Candidate Jeb’s proposals.

      1. He demands 8% more! $600/oz gold and gives out investment advice?

    3. What about stealing their oil to pay up your gambling debts?

    4. Death spiral, here we come!…..facto.aspx

    1. Don’t you mean “Penis Insert”? Or “Menace Has-turd”? I’m sure you can come up with something.

    2. He wasn’t convicted. He merely admitted that he had done it. He was ‘convicted’ of the victimless crime of ‘structuring’ i.e. taking his money out of the bank in quantities the IRS disapproves of.

  14. He’s stressing policies for the American worker as opposed to the American consumer are key to where he goes wrong here.

    And intentionally “going wrong here” is one reason why he is getting the votes where he is. Trump is not going to bet on an attempt to evoke the class consciousness of the abstract American consumer.

  15. Not to defend Trump, I can’t stand the guy in general, but on bad point #2, surely it’s better to kill the hell out of threats and leave than to spend a decade promoting “stability” in the region.

    I’m personally very skeptical that Trump is any less interventionist than the alternatives (see: Bush campaign rhetoric, Obama campaign rhetoric) but I can respect someone who wants a one-night stand with the Middle East instead of a marriage.

  16. He didn’t talk about walling off the undesirables either?

    I want the extra-crazy Trump speech!

      1. Do YOU come with the car?

      2. It is just not Trump without a “Mexican rapist” or “thieving Chink” remark.

        1. How about a “Lil Taco” remark? Are those okay?

          1. Sure, Cubans are the same thing as Mexicans, right?

            I bet shreek makes fun of the Bangladeshi dude behind the counter of his local 7-11 by yelling “CHING CHONG WING WONG, TOJO!”

        2. How about a “shirking Buttplug” remark?

    1. I want the extra-crazy Trump speech!

      I want the evidence!

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  18. its not free trade…

    read one of those 5000 page sovereignty selling deals…..closer to treason

    1. It is true that NAFTA, et all, is not Free Trade, but Trump doesn’t slam NAFTA and then argue for “real” Free Trade. He instead goes in the opposite direction and argues for protectionism, which is an aspect of so-called crony capitalism, which is a form of government intervention in the economy. Trump is not a Free Market guy.

  19. “America First” sounds like it could be a pretty pro-libertarian attitude to me. Of course, I’m not the sort of libertarian who puts the rights of foreigners above or equal to those of US citizens. Yeah, they’re all human and I don’t want to do them harm without provocation, but that doesn’t mean I want them all to move here.

    1. “America First” is not a libertarian attitude. That’s a nationalist attitude.

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  21. You gotta really look at each bad point.

    1. Maybe his problem is with the ‘relatively’–as we all know, the other name for ‘relatively free trade’ is ‘not really free trade’. Perhaps what he wants is a relaxation of the hamstringing of the American manufacturing system that our current regulatory and labor structures bring about.

    2. He’s against nation building, we all like that, right? That means that he sees that you use the military to kill your enemies, not to build them schools and hospitals. You don’t care if their kids go to school, if they get to vote, if they’re enjoying American civil rights. All you care about is that each and every one of them understands that even thinking about raising a weapon against the US is the same as deciding to nuke one’s own home. Once they understand that they can talk to someone in the state department about getting some help to clean up the mess.

    3. You need to invest in a military that can do 2. But once you’re willing to do 2 in defense of self and allies(a roster that needs some serious going over), you’ll find that you don’t need to actually USE the military all that much.

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  23. 1) His continued obsession with the idea that relatively free trade with China, Mexico, or others is some sort of unmitigated


    Demanding that we have open market for non-capitalist economies is not remotely libertarian. It’s intellectually lazy. It promotes a policy where we focus on the buzz words “free-trade” instead of looking into what it actually entails.

    China gets 51 percent ownership of ever factor built in China. China is also able to subsidize industries with tax dollars coerced from their people, Because of this, China can operate as a massive super monopoly that, through its use of these subsidies, is completely detached from market forces. This allows a country such as them to systematically attack and replace the major industries of our economy. A company, competing fairly, by providing products in the most efficient way possible while still for profit, cannot compete with these government backed Chinese industries that can run in the red for years.

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