Donald Trump

Trump's Foreign Policy: 'To the Victor Belong the Spoils'

But he doesn't want to engage in nation-building!

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Donald Trump
Loren Elliott/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Today's foreign policy and immigration speech by Donald Trump explains, in a nutshell, how utterly impossible it is to try to tease out a coherent idea of how a Trump presidency will behave. To wit:

  • Trump and vice president candidate Mike Pence were introduced by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a massive supporter and cheerleader of the Iraq War. Then during his speech, Trump spent a significant amount of time saying that did not support the Iraq War and was vocal about it as a citizen (evidence suggests that this is not actually true).
  • Having opposed the war, he nevertheless felt President Barack Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton were wrong to have failed to establish a new agreement to keep more troops in Iraq (an agreement Obama inherited as president), and said that pulling troops out is what caused the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS). (evidence shows that Trump also had called for pulling out of Iraq previously while George W. Bush was still president)
  • He said the current administration's policy of "nation-buliding and regime change was a failure" and would end under his watch. But Trump also in this same speech criticized Obama's alleged "apology tour" during his administration that critiqued America's interventionism in other countries as "colonialism."
  • Regardless of the above statements, Trump said that he wanted America to "keep the oil" in Iraq, which couldn't have been done without many American troops staying in Iraq for a long time, which he maybe now supports. He actually said in his speech "To the victor, belongs the spoils" (I doubt Trump knows the origins of that quote at all, but it certainly makes for interesting reading). These are the kind of statements that make it clear that Trump is not by any means a "non-interventionist."
  • Trump pointed out that many countries where radical Islam has taken hold have terrible human rights records, but is in favor of using waterboarding "and more" as president to fight terrorism.
  • Trump wants to continue the drone strikes that frequently kill civilians and also wants more efforts to capture foreign combatants to try them at Guantanamo Bay, which he will keep open and operating.
  • Trump says "Political correctness has replaced common sense in our society," but also says that under his administration visitors to the country who "preach hate" will be asked to leave. Who will be deciding what that means?
  • Under that same contradictory attitude, Trump calls for an ideological test (he called it "extreme vetting") for immigrants that requires that they show that they "believe in our Constitution," which his general position on the First Amendment contradicts. Whose interpretation of the Constitution would this be?
  • Trump says he wants to build bridges and erase divisions in American society, but also wants to make a "commission" on radical Islam to identify the "warning signs" that somebody in America has become radicalized to be used by authorities and immigration, which is a thing that is already happening and hasn't always been terribly effective. He even pointed out in this same speech that in the case of both the Orlando shootings and the bombing of the Boston Marathon, the perpetrators had been previously interviewed by authorities.

Trump calls Obama a divider but hilariously seems to think that he is not and ended his speech by declaring a new spirit of "Americanism" will "heal our divisions" under his presidential administration, as though "healing" our culture plays any role in this election whatsoever.

Hillary Clinton's response to the speech was to tweet a reminder of all the former national security officials who oppose him. But, of course, Clinton is not exactly a peacenik, she's just the kind of warhawk the national security establishment likes.

Read the full transcript of Trump's speech here.

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164 responses to “Trump's Foreign Policy: 'To the Victor Belong the Spoils'

  1. So what you’re telling me is that he is so full of contradictions, maybe he won’t do anything as president? Good…?

    1. Isn’t there actually a vote-for-trump rationalization that says that he’ll be so awful, he won’t get anything done, whereas Clinton will?

      1. I haven’t heard that one. If we had a Congress that actually had any sort of power beyond the power to run to reporters to bitch about things, that could be a borderline viable rationalization. Unfortunately, Congress can’t really stop him from (literally) nuking the bankruptcy courts of New Jersey.

        1. So, is that pro or con?

          1. Riley . if you think Scott `s comment is really great… on friday I got a great new Lancia when I got my cheque for $6472 this past five weeks and just a little over 10 grand this past-munth . it’s definitly the best-job I have ever had . I actually started 3 months ago and almost straight away started bringing in over $75 per-hour . see here …………… freedoms.top

        2. Clinton I think is more dangerous with power than Trump because she has Team of enablers. Trump has no friends in the bureaucracy, Trump has no pals in the media, and for all his bluster Trump really doesn’t have speed-dial to Big Bankster Inc. – he is a (big) customer of the financial establishment, not a facilitator or fixer in it.

          Clinton, in contrast, has accommodated every slithery establishment tentacle into her many for-sale orifices, all pumping hot corruption and quivering with incompetent narcissism. Just fucking disgusting.

          1. That’s my feeling. Trump may be bad, but he will also be fairly impotent.

          2. Never underestimate the danger of a bully that has never learned self control… and most definitely do not underestimate the danger of a bully, with no self control, with Nuclear weapons… that he wonders why we have if we don’t use them. And don’t underestimate his ability to eventually discover he can get someone to google nuclear triad, so he can figure out what all the laughter is about.

            1. The “Trump would have the button on the nukes” argument is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. I’m not a Trump supporter, but it’s stupid to think he’s going to drop an atomic bomb on another country. There are a million valid reasons not to like him, but to reduce it to “he’s going to drop a nuke on somebody” (especially when his rival is a notorious warmonger herself) is just stupid.

      2. Clinton won’t have much trouble getting Congressional Dems to go along with her agenda. If they manage to flip the Senate, so much the better for them. Trump on the other hand would struggle getting traction among Congressmen worried about their prospects in 2018.

      3. That has essentially been my position. Neither party will cooperate with him but Hillary would have no qualms about whatever backroom deals make her the most money and power. She’ll be far more damaging.

        But for once both choices are so bad that I can vote my conscience and vote for Johnson. Unfortunately I live in Massachusetts so any vote I cast is translated into a vote for Hillary.

        1. Luckily (?!.) for you Mass. is such a deep blue place there is not the slightest chance of anything with an R) next to it on the ballot getting any of the electoral votes on a “regular” presidential election year. Much less so if that name is Trump. A man who any deep thinking derp-book lurker will tell you categorically, and with 111% certainty,..is Hitler. Surpassing even the high bars set by previous exemplars of this peculiar species such as Romney and Dole. I suppose, that if by some 300 million to 1 chance I was forced to cast the deciding vote between the two top billed idiots, and there were absolutely no other ballot options, I would have to go with Trump. Lessor evil I know but certainly a magnitude of order better by any objective measure than putting another Clinton in the White House. I am lucky in a similarly ironic way. The state I live in (Idaho) is deep elephant country. If 3/4 of the Republicans here decided to do something more productive with their time for a change, like staying home and mowing the lawn, or getting stoned and binge watching netflix, or even just taking an invigorating hike in the mountains and smoking a pack. And if every living Democrat in the state showed up to pull the lever for Hillary, And If they could drag in all their long dead kin from every cemetery in the state to boot, I could still tell you what the headline on Wednesday morning paper would read…

          1. ….And that would be some variation of “Deja Vu Strikes Again, Republicans Landslide Victory Leaves Progressive Pundits Puzzled.”or ” Idaho Dems Innovative Undead Vote Drive Ineffective.” ..When I point the peculiarities of the whole electoral college/state politics thing to all my R) and r) or L) and l) leaning friends and family most are at least open to or even mildly enthusiastic who to the idea of a Stony Johnson over the completely unappetizing binary non choice-choice of an obnoxious Giant Douche or a steaming Turd Sandwich. Many are understandably horrified at the idea (which I think is really more a solipsistic conceit), that they might somehow by their vote or lack of it could be the thing, the straw if you will, that would put Hillary on the Iron Throne. Yeah right,and there is probably an equally good chance that the methane emissions from my ass are the thing that will tip the scales on global warming over the top…never mind all those volcanoes out there. If you are in a solid Blue or Red non swingy-state there is no reason to waste your vote this time around. The thing you should really be worried about is this; and that is the issue that no one will address or even bring up anymore, the one thing we should be far more worried about more than the deck chairs. Few things are as certain as math or as predictable and inevitable as gravity. Debt, Bankruptcy, the loss of the Freedoms that made the idea called America exceptional. Worry about these things.

            1. For me, reading the comments here is entertaining and frequently educational, and venting here may be therapeutic but is really mostly a bit like preaching to the choir. That is if we can imagine that there is a church somewhere that is almost entirely populated by a disreputable rabble of sarcastic bastards, pirates, outlaw bikers and UFC fighters. Where the preacher and choir all wear boxing gloves and think that the surprise nut punch is the apex of hilarity. Black eyes and bruises are not uncommon amongst the departing parishioners, but of course only a complete fucking pussy would ever acknowledge, much less whine about such trivialities.

      4. Isn’t there actually a vote-for-trump rationalization that says that he’ll be so awful, he won’t get anything done, whereas Clinton will?

        I’m pretty sure that that is the only rationalization. He’s really, really bad – but vote for him anyway to keep Clinton out of office because the antipathy towards him from the Legislative and Media will keep him in line.

        Obama got smacked down by the courts for making ‘recess appointments’ over a three-day holiday – Trump won’t be allowed to get that far.

    2. Does Trump contradict himself? Very well, then he contradicts himself, Trump is large, he contains multitudes.

      1. Let that which stood in front go behind, let that which was behind advance to the front, let bigots, fools, unclean persons, offer new propositions, let the old propositions be postponed.

        1. There is no measuring Trump’s motives by ordinary standards. Remember, we speak now of the Trump who ordered battle drums made from his enemies’ skins, the Trump who denied the conventions of his past with a wave of the hand, saying merely: “I am the Kwisatz Haderach. That is reason enough.”

      2. Trump is large

        No, yuuuuge.

        1. But…. Does he have “YUUUGGE tracts of… LAND”???!?!

          1. He’s Trump, not Schumer.

      3. …Trump is large, he contains multitudes.

        String theory has 10^500 possible valid solutions, and a Trump is in every one.

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  2. “”””former national security officials who oppose him.”””

    So the idiots who have screwed up US foreign policy for decades don’t like Trump.

    1. That’s a bingo!

    2. Do you get to play that card when Rudy Giuliani is on your side (yes I know he wasn’t in federal politics, but he made his positions clear)? Also, broken clocks, etc.

      1. Would you trust a broken clock to tell you the correct time, knowing that its only right twice a day?

        1. If I had an accurate mechanism for measuring exactly how wrong it is the rest of the day, then yes.

  3. Unrelated but didn’t Ayn Rand have the same policy when it came to overseas oil?

    1. Beats me. Did she? And if so, does it matter?

      1. Matter? Well, no, nothing really matters. Still an interesting historical figure here.

    2. I think Rand’s policy was that we helped Iran develop their oil extraction technology, so all their oil is really ours and we should go and take it.

  4. It costs us twenty minutes of links-snark in order to get two extra sentences per link.

    And the alt-text, whew buddy. Mondays blow.

    1. What the fuck am I talking about, instead. Long days deserve long drinks.

      1. We all figured it was a koan on which to meditate.

          1. The koan that doesn’t make you think is the ultimate koan.

            1. Isn’t it something you order at Starbucks?

  5. Sorry, but I can’t let this stuff pass:

    Trump may very well have been contradictory about the Iraq war. But what is strange about having a member of the same political party introduce you, even though at one time you may have been on different sides of an issue??

    There is nothing contradictory in the idea that we shouldn’t have gone into Iraq in the first place. But having been there for 6 years, we shouldn’t just withdraw. And W. couldn’t have signed a forces agreement in perpetuity. It is patently obvious that Obama never intended to negotiate in good faith to keep troops in Iraq (where things were MUCH better in 2007 and 2008).

    There is also nothing contradictory in opposing “nation-building” and at the same time criticizing Obama’s apology tour (which it was). As a matter of fact, they go hand-in-hand.

    Once again, one can oppose going to war, but once that is a fait accompli, be for strong action, and be for maintaining troop levels to keep stability.

    I certainly agree that he has said a number of things that are obviously just emoting. But, currently when someone wants to become a citizen, they have to take a test. Is this really all that different? Granted, it won’t do anything, but how is it unConstitutional?

    Seriously, it is like every other politician can say whatever the fuck they want and it is ok. But Trump opens his mouth and no matter what he says, it is bad. Even when it is fucking milquetoast pablum like Obama is a divider and he will be a uniter.

    1. People in the media still don’t understand that the way they scrutinize and overreact to everything Trump does is exactly why he is the nominee in the first place.

      1. No, it was because of all the positive press he receives.

  6. Trump says he wants to build bridges and erase divisions in American society

    , while Hillary says she wants to eliminate barriers, seen and unseen.

    This really is shaping up to be a tough decision.

    1. Yeah. Turd sandwich or giant douche? What to do, what to do…

  7. The TDS is strong in this one! One can certainly agree or disagree with Trump’s ideas in this speech today. But, it is hardly inconsistent. And if these folks published every fucking thing that Hilary said (or Obama said in 2008), then, by comparison, Trump would appear to be a full-fledged Libertarian.

    I mean this is just ridiculous.

      1. This is a new thing that I have already stolen.

        1. Ima guess Reason Derangement Syndrome.

          1. I can’t read French, so I can only assume that’s a Canadian watersports porn site.

        2. Red Dick Syndrome?

          1. RiDonkulous Supreme

  8. I dunno….

    There is an argument to be had for a policy of “Don’t go to war unless it is absolutely necessary. And if you do go to war, make it total war. We won’t stop until you are utterly defeated and we will take all of the spoils of war. Anything you have after the war would be at our largess. ”

    If people believed it, they sure would have second thoughts about screwing with you. And they’d have every incentive to make nice.

    1. THIS^ And if you go back to what Trump was saying 2002 and 2003, it is very consistent with this philosophy. And frankly, I think this in general is a pretty good way to live as an individual, and as a nation.

      “Bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If they continue, destroy them.”- Miyamoto Musashi

      1. And Obama’s gonna buy me a phone.

      2. That doesn’t sound very libertarian. The ideal should be to use the least amount of force necessary to defend yourself. Anything else sounds wasteful and unethical.

        1. Anything else sounds wasteful and unethical.

          We’re talking about Trump here.

        2. Anything else sounds wasteful and unethical

          Otto von Bismarck says hi

        3. I’m not entirely sure of that. If you conclude that such a policy would make for ample deterrence and that “the least amount of force necessary” would encourage aggression, there’s nothing inherently unlibertarian about choosing the former.

          1. As a follow up, it’s the non-aggression principle. Not the pacifism principle.

          2. Right. Under that rubric, the Pacific War should never have employed the island-hopping strategy and just waited for Japan to attack before going out and claiming Japanese soil.

            “Least amount of force” is an invitation to be attacked over and over, since your neighbors are unlikely to have such a policy and therefore you invite less costs to aggression compared to them.

        4. Theoretically, what constitutes “least amount of force necessary” at the tactical level is not the same as the “least amount of force necessary” at the strategic level. That is, a policy of half-assed “just-enough” responses can lead to interminable conflict and can embolden more asshats to try their luck, where one brutal and decisive campaign may end it and put everyone else on notice.

          1. As Ender Wiggin ably demonstrated in that documentary about the formic wars.

            1. The moral of the book…..whoooosh over your head.

    2. Your argument doesn’t cover the “Went to war when it wasn’t absolutely necessary” situation. I’m not sold on the “We shouldn’t of done it but we did so now we gotta do it as hard as we can.” solution.

      1. Throwing good money after bad is how you win at n-th dimensional chess.

        1. The problem with n-dimensional chess is that there are too many degrees of freedom, which makes for a boring game. That is why the puppet masters always work to restrict our freedoms.

      2. Yeah, I ain’t claiming it as my personal political philosophy. Just that it is a rational position to take.

        As for the objection, that is a weakness of our political system, not of the philosophy on war. By turning over our leadership every few years, we fail to have the sort of consistent and predictable responses that would enable this sort of philosophy to work.

        The idea of “total war” is pretty much a pure game theory approach. If everyone is absolutely sure of what your response will be, and that the consequences would be disproportionate and devastating, then you should be safe from all provocations.

        But under the same game theory, our strategy offers perverse incentives. We waffle from interventionism to isolationism and back again on monthly time scales. We fly forth with devastating power, and then hamstring ourselves with crazy restraints. I’m sure there is a certain mindset that sees this as abject weakness. Saddam Hussein certainly did. As does Putin. And the crazy little guy of the month from North Korea.

  9. “evidence shows that Trump also had called for pulling out of Iraq previously while George W. Bush was still president”

    Haven’t watched the video but is Trump’s call for pulling out of Iraq completely contradictory with leaving troops behind? Seems like he has several outs here.

    1. “You know how they get out? They get out,” Trump said to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “That’s how they get out. Declare victory and leave, because I’ll tell you, this country is just going to get further bogged down. They’re in a civil war over there, Wolf. There’s nothing that we’re going to be able to do with a civil war. They are in a major civil war.”

      March 2007

      1. Sounds pretty contradictory!

        1. Sure, when we beat Japan and Germany we didn’t leave troops behind.

          Oh, wait…

  10. I can’t believe Scott Shackleford disagrees with every aspect of Trump’s foreign policy. Why don’t you just go write for those pussies over at National Review?

    1. What burns my ass is these Editors constantly editorializing in these editorials, it’s like they think opinion has a place in hard investigative journalism.

    2. I’m increasingly surprised that more and more of the Reason staff don’t end up at HuffPo or Salon.

  11. Why are we still pretending that Trump might be president?

    1. Why, indeed, when *Hillary* is the pretender.

      1. The DNC decided to nominate the biggest douche-nozzle they could find.

        And the GOP said, “Oh, yeah? Well, watch us elect the YUGEST PRICK YOU’VE EVER SEEN!!!!”

        And the GOP won. And by won, I mean, hit rock bottom first, so now we get to see at least 4 years of President Crazy Grandma Douche-Nozzle.

        Politics is a loser’s game. Give up. Any freedom to be found isn’t going to reveal itself in an election.

        1. You’re not telling me anything I don’t already know. But I’m still not sure what makes you think the people don’t want the biggest prick?

          1. So politics is just a big game of chat roulette ???

            =D

              1. But without the naked jailbait teen girls.

          2. “We all want the big one, don’t we?”

            “Did she just make an innuendo?”

            “Yep.”

          3. I’m just venting. I think my summary is pretty much all you need to know.

            Yet, we’re going to pretend we have interesting things to say about Douche-Dick Election 2016 for at least another 3-4 months.

            I’m just going to hibernate until Christmas. Wake me up when there’s something interesting to talk about.

        2. The two parties opted for a game of Chicken this year…and both stubbornly refuse to stop first, driving them together off the cliff.

    2. Trump is fighting an uphill battle vs the media and almost everything he says out loud. I doubt his sensitive supporters will come out and vote for him in large enough numbers to make a difference. I doubt Hillary will have huge numbers of voters either, but she has the political machine in place to garner a large enough number.

  12. “To the victor goes the spoils” is, in foreign policy terms, almost entirely the opposite of a nation-building approach in everything except perhaps the superficial quality of both being “interventionist”.

    Nation-building tries to rejigger all the pieces of the country into a functional, liberal-democratic whole so that the area isn’t left a shambles like post-colonial Africa. Duplicating democratic institutions that emerged over a period of 400 years in the context of European history, especially lacking local enthusiasm for your little project, ain’t been much of a success on the ground but there it is.

    “To the victor goes the spoils” is simply wealth extraction. It’s been practiced a million times by a million different armies, and it’s so simple a caveman with a Crom-smash rock could do it. In the modern context, it’s more likely to indicate a quasi-realist position rather than brute wealth extraction, since virtually no major power has done that on a large scale since the post-WWII Soviets in Eastern Europe.

    In the context of a Trump speech, it probably means little to nothing content-wise. But let’s all be scared anyways, because Trump

  13. So Trump is the Anti-Obama.

    The skies will darken, the oceans will rise, the planet will begin to die.

    1. I’m down with that.

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  15. OT: I saw a picture of Hillary and Merkel today.

    It’s nice for Hillary that she managed to go a few seconds not smiling like a psychotic beauty pageant contestant standing next to Angela Merkel. Angela doesn’t do that so much, so it would have created…poor optics.

    Anyway, looking forward to her skeleton smile on election day.

  16. This is really a lazy article. I don’t like Trump at all, but his speech was not half bad at laying out a new direction in policy. I disagree with some of it. Find the whole National Committee to sort things out absurd and a bit scary. Not fond of droning everybody we don’t like. But on the whole, its rather solid for a guy who doesn’t know his ass from a whole in the ground. Could you at least have looked at possible results, instead of snark?

    Compare it with what we have possibly?. Or maybe analyze Hillary or current administration in the same way. It would suck at least as much and has given us the forever war as the cherry on top.

    1. Sorry. HOLE, not whole.

    2. No, no, no……..

      Don’t you understand that the only acceptable response to anything Trump says IS dismissive snark. Along with drawing some kind of nonsensical equivalence between Cankles and Trump. No matter what was actually said.

  17. Oh, Trump is bringing back the “apology tour” lie. It worked so well for Romney in 2012.

    1. You mean that thing that was actually true, you fucking piece of shit? You wouldn’t know what the truth is, with that mass of shit between your ears that passes for a brain.

      1. Yeah, not understanding that version of the troll. Obama parlayed his apology tour into a Nobel Peace Prize, for crying out loud. It would be very difficult to argue that it didn’t happen with any seriousness.

        You might argue that it was brilliant foreign policy. That Obama’s reception was proof that these words were long overdue. But pretending that it didn’t happen is just silly.

  18. Trump is basically a pragmatist in outlook.

    His pragmatism isn’t especially realistic, but the belief that we should always do the same thing in foreign policy regardless of variables in situation and context is childish Pollyanna stuff.

    Also, it is usually wrong to talk about people’s positions on the Iraq War before the Iraq War started, when our decision about whether to support the war was predicated on believing things that weren’t true.

    My all time favorite link:

    “WASHINGTON (AP) ? Nearly seven in 10 Americans believe it is likely that ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, says a poll out almost two years after the terrorists’ strike against this country.

    Sixty-nine percent in a Washington Post poll published Saturday said they believe it is likely the Iraqi leader was personally involved in the attacks carried out by al-Qaeda. A majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents believe it’s likely Saddam was involved.

    “Poll: 70% believe Saddam, 9-11 link”
    USA Today
    September 6, 2003

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com…..iraq_x.htm

    Note the date. This poll was taken six months after we invaded Iraq.

    This belief was really about the anthrax attack. It’s hard for people who weren’t grown up at the time to understand what it was like when snail mail was important to everyone–and everyone was afraid to touch their own mail because of anthrax.

    1. I couldn’t figure it out at the time either, because nobody was saying that.

      And then I couldn’t figure out what all the democrats who voted for the war resolution were talking about when they said Bush lied to them about Hussein and 9/11 – having been there when they very explicitly never said any such thing.

      It was a very strange time that once again underscored the notion that people are stupid. A person may be smart, but people in large groups are just damn stupid.

      And now we have the nomination of Trump to prove it.

  19. Anyway, the reason Republicans believed Saddam Hussein was personally complicit in 9/11 was because of the whoppers George W. Bush told about Saddam Hussein’s WMD program and his collaboration with Al Qaeda–both of which turned out to be bogus in regards to 9/11.

    The reason Democrats believed Saddam Hussein was personally complicity in 9/11 was because Senator Hillary Clinton–alone among Democrats–told the exact same whoppers Bush did.

    Going after Trump because he believed what we were all told about bogus Al Qaeda ties and phony photos of mobile WMD labs isn’t fair. If Donald Trump supported the Iraq War because he thought it was a war of self-defense–and didn’t change his opinion when he found out that wasn’t true? Maybe then we should go after him for that.

    Meanwhile, Hillary is personally responsible for her part in selling lies to the American people. If you don’t believe me, read the following piece from the New York Times, called “Hillary’s War”.

    http://tinyurl.com/hl4q8xv

    Yes, there’s an important difference between Trump and Hillary on the Iraq War. Trump may have supported it and then changed his mind later as the facts became available–but Hillary was as responsible as anyone for the American people believing in a casus belli that simply wasn’t true.

    1. Gotta disagree. Telling a whopper implies that you are knowingly saying something false. W clearly believed what he was saying, because he heard what he wanted to believe. Hillary believed what she said because polling + rationalization.

      They’re both amoral warmongering shitbags.

      1. You believe about their intentions what you want to believe about why they lied.

        And not just about the infamous sixteen words. All the other lies about Al Qaeda collaboration, too?

        Why was Hilary alone among Democrats in telling these lies?

        Being a good President is about not accidentally lying the American people into a disastrous war–accidentally or otherwise.

        What is Hillary planning to do to make sure that she doesn’t accidentally lie the American people into a horrible war again?

        1. They didn’t lie about any Al-Qaeda connection. They told the truth about a tenuous small training camp connection as a small part of a large narrative about Iraqi state support for (primarily anti-Israeli) terrorism. Most of the talk about Iraqi terror connections was about paying bounties for suicide bombers and supporting the families of martyrs.

          People conflated a lot of things in their own heads. Whether that was a deliberate rhetorical tactic, I couldn’t say. It didn’t work on me if it was, but then I don’t think like normal people, hence the libertarian label.

          But at the time I never once even for a second thought the Iraq war was being sold as anything other than “we have to lance this boil on the middle east right now”. Not directly having anything to do with 9/11, but indirectly being the genesis of Al-Qaeda (via Desert Storm and the presence of US troops on Saudi soil) and being an ongoing destabilizing force in the region because of the power-hungry dictator who fancies himself the new Calif.

          The Neocon theory of planting a democracy somewhere in the middle east was clearly the genesis of the war, and the selling was primarily “Saddam is a bad guy and here’s a hundred reasons why. “

          1. Hillary Clinton stood on the Senate floor and told everybody that Saddam Hussein was collaborating with Al Qaeda.

            That was a lie.

            1. It was a lie that led to a disastrous war.

              1. Yeah…. I didn’t give anybody “not administration” any credence on their reasons for war at the time. But you have a real point with the Clintons. I remember distinctly the import of Bill throwing his weight behind the weapons of mass destruction argument. I didn’t think enough of Hillary at the time to register more than “and Hillary is on board too”.

                Also at the time, most of us had Hillary in the “far left anti military wife of the former president who hated the military so much she wouldn’t let the military personnel ride in the limo with her socialist true believer who is just pretending to be more centrist to get power in the Senate”
                category, so I didn’t think anyone actually believed anything she was saying. And I certainly wasn’t paying much attention.

                1. “Yeah…. I didn’t give anybody “not administration” any credence on their reasons for war at the time. But you have a real point with the Clintons. “

                  The CIA, the Department of Defense, the military, the Department of State, George W. Bush, the British Intelligence Service, and Hillary Clinton all said the same thing.

                  . . . but you didn’t give any of them any credence because what?!

                  Bull. Shit.

                  My opposition to the Iraq War in 2003 had nothing to do with whether Iraq had WMD or was collaborating with Al Qaeda. I opposed the war for all the same reasons Bush Sr., Scowcroft and others opposed invading Iraq in 1991.

                  You know, the scientific method requires us to believe things that aren’t true if the only available evidence at the time tells us to believe something that isn’t true–pending further evidence. And all the evidence in that report was classified. We weren’t allowed to read it. Only the politicians were allowed to read it. That’s how they know how many of them actually read it.

                  If you didn’t believe that Saddam had WMD or was collaborating with Al Qaeda at the time–despite all the available evidence and all the experts and all the important politicians telling us they did? Then I call bullshit.

            2. Here’s our latest candidate for the Trump Derangement Syndrome Victim of the Day Award.

              Cyto is apparently so in the take for hating Trump that he’s willing to pretend that when Hillary Clinton tells everybody that Saddam Hussein is collaborating with Al Qaeda, it doesn’t mean that she told anybody that Saddam Hussein was collaborating with Al Qaeda.

              P.S. Never go full retard.

              1. See above for actual rational.

                My take on Trump isn’t one of hate… although I am quite put out that the arguments against him are so stupid that I am frequently compelled to defend him (which certainly isn’t where I’d like to be). What I find interesting about Trump is that people actually supported him. Not now, but a year ago. I really didn’t think anybody was supporting him beyond an enjoyment of the ribald and a feeling that it was high time that those stuffed shirts got a thumb in the eye.

                For me it just underscores how out of touch with the great middle I am. I listen to Johnson speak and I instantly get it, even when I disagree. Trump makes me laugh, but he doesn’t engender any feeling of confidence in his leadership. Clinton appears to be nakedly power-hungry and transparently rapacious with her use of government power. So much so that I cannot see how ordinary people don’t see them the same way.

                Almost everyone else in the country thinks Johnson is a nutty goofball who should be ignored. And I don’t see all that many folks with Clinton in the “crony capitalism plunderer” category, even among detractors. (it is there, but definitely a minority piece of the “she’s evil” camp). And Trump … who knows. I still think most people who support him just see someone who is giving voice to Joe Sixpack… the classic populist, which is kinda where I see him. So maybe from that point of view I understand them more than I think.

      2. Hillary Clinton is most likely a clinical psychopath that will pursue the path of least resistance to more money and more power. Period. Anything else about her actions are just minutia that go back to that fact.

    2. ” So far, she has not discussed publicly whether she ever read the complete classified version of the National Intelligence Estimate, the most comprehensive judgment of the intelligence community about Iraq’s W.M.D., which was made available to all 100 senators. The 90-page report was delivered to Congress on Oct. 1, 2002″
      “She could have done the reading herself. Senators were able to access the N.I.E. at two secure locations in the Capitol complex. Nonetheless, only six senators personally read the report, according to a 2005 television interview with Senator Jay Rockefeller, Democrat of West Virginia and then the vice chairman of the intelligence panel.”

      90 pages and 94% of senators didn’t read it prior to committing the nation to war. Amazing.

      1. “Clinton’s linking of Iraq’s leader and Al Qaeda, however, was unsupported by the conclusions of the N.I.E. and other secret intelligence reports that were available to senators before the vote . . . . Nevertheless, on the sensitive issue of collaboration between Al Qaeda and Iraq, Senator Clinton found herself adopting the same argument that was being aggressively pushed by the administration. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration officials had repeated their claim frequently, and by early October 2002, two out of three Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was connected to the Sept. 11 attacks. By contrast, most of the other Senate Democrats, even those who voted for the war authorization, did not make the Qaeda connection in their remarks on the Senate floor.

        —Ibidem

        http://tinyurl.com/hl4q8xv

        Hillary Clinton was the only one who claimed Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda were collaborating.

        That was a whopper, and she knew it.

        Al Qaeda was essentially a guerilla movement meant to overthrow the vicious dictatorships plaguing North Africa and the Middle East. To link them together, you’d have to know almost nothing about Al Qaeda and their aims–nothing being exactly what average Americans knew about Al Qaeda in 2002 and 2003.

        Hell, to plenty of average Americans at the time, trying to understand the aims of Al Qaeda was tantamount to treason.

        Blowback?! How dare you?

  20. Political correctness has replaced common sense in our society

    Common sense is the most fairly distributed thing in the world, for each one thinks he is so well-endowed with it that even those who are hardest to satisfy in all other matters are not in the habit of desiring more of it than they already have.

    — Ren? Descartes

  21. In order to nation-build successfully, you must destroy all resistance. That usually involves massacres. There was a revolt against British rule in Sri Lanka in 1817. It ended with the British destroying homes and livestock in rebellious areas and killing all the males over 18. The suppression of the Boer insurgency had a similar outcome. That one featured the first use in history of concentration camps.

    If you don’t want to do any of that, don’t try to national build. Kick their asses so hard they taste shit for a year and leave.

    On a side note, I learned today that Japanese built iron fans as weapons. I thought that was just in Mortal Kombat.

    The practitioners of tessenjutsu could acquire a high level of skill. Some became so skilled, in fact, that they were able to defend themselves against an attacker wielding a sword, and even kill an opponent with a single blow. Like so many other Japanese arts of combat during this era, tessenjutsu reached a high level of sophistication. For example, a famous swordsman in the late 16th century, Ganryu, was able to defeat several enemies with an iron fan.

    Apart from using it in duels against enemies armed with swords and spears, the skilled wielder could also use it to fence and fend off knives and poisoned darts thrown at him. Like a sword, the tessen could be dual-wielded to parry with one hand and attack with the other.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tessenjutsu

    1. In order to nation-build successfully, you must destroy all resistance. That usually involves massacres.

      One imagines if Iraq had gotten the German 1945 treatment – getting cooked down thousands-a-day bomber raids in the west with holy-shit Stalin’s Soviet Union rolling/raping over the east with a couple hundred tank divisions – things would’ve been more chill among the Zarqawi types in the aftermath.

      1. Maybe. Or maybe the whole thing would’ve fallen apart, because there’s no longer any semblance of political authority in the area and it’s every man for himself.

        My long-running theory on why Japan and Germany were so successful post-WWII is that they were already hugely successful countries on the world stage before they got their asses kicked. Not so with the various Arab shitholes we’ve been eying; this idea that we’re good at transferring our institutions would be much more convincing if there were even one example in, say, Latin America of a country being made substantially better off by a US invasion. After 100+ years and very limited autonomy, PR is the best we’ve managed — and Chile and other S American countries that we didn’t invade still did a better job than we did with PR of getting western-style democratic institutions.

  22. how utterly impossible it is to try to tease out a coherent idea of how a Trump presidency will behave

    i find this assessment sort of hard to square with many other articles presenting at least a range of certainty about how a Trump presidency would behave.

    we’ve seen prognostications of how international trade would cease overnight, a christian-police-state reminiscent of V For Vendetta would emerge, and Cold War2 = Nuclear Boogalo would begin immediately.
    and more!

    yet now i hear that this has all been so much meaningless spitballing? foresooth.

    These are the kind of statements that make it clear that Trump is not by any means a “non-interventionist.”

    Scott = please name a single “Non interventionist” who ever served in any position of significance in directing US foreign policy (*as opposed to someone in academia or a congressional-crank on a subcommittee).

    thanks

    1. Calvin Coolidge. Jimmy Carter.

      1. Calvin Coolidge was a genuine isolationist — no trade, no interaction with the outside world. And even under him, we did plenty of shit in Latin America.

        Jimmy “Camp David Accords” Carter? Don’t make me laugh.

        1. Camp David was not exactly intervention, at least in the sense meant here (military). Carter sent troops nowhere other than the botched hostage rescue. As far as I know, Cal sent troops nowhere as well.

          1. Camp David was not exactly intervention

            Playing intermediary in other people’s conflicts, which carries concurrent responsibilities of punishing both/either in the event of violations, is most certainly “intervention” by any imaginable definition.

            As has been noted hundreds of times, so-called “non-interventionists” will narrow their definition whenever defending decisions, and expand it wildly whenever criticizing others.

            Sheldon described merely *allowing* former Soviet states to enter into trade negotiations with Western Europe, or to be considered within the security protections of NATO, as wanton provocation by the west – and any gesture by the US to support the Euromaidan in Ukraine was similar ‘intervention’.

            Are trade embargoes intervention? Is doing business with one (but not both) parties involved in a conflict, intervening in that conflict? What aspects of stick or carrot diplomacy ARENT intervention?

            my point, made over and over again, is that there is no such thing as a “non-interventionist”. There’s only better and worse. non-interventionism isn’t a policy ; its an theoretical ideal which is constantly compromised by reality.

            Its a stupid term.i think libertarians should stop using it, the same way and for the same reasons they should stop talking about “open borders”.

            1. Playing intermediary in other people’s conflicts, which carries concurrent responsibilities of punishing both/either in the event of violations, is most certainly “intervention” by any imaginable definition.

              Bullshit.

              1. you’re welcome to explain that to millions of arabs.

            2. What aspects of stick or carrot diplomacy ARENT intervention?

              The lack of guns, bombs, and soldiers.

              1. The lack of guns, bombs, and soldiers.

                here’s a question =

                Bush I sent troops into Iraq in 1990/1991

                Bush II sent troops into Iraq in 2003

                Clinton, in between…. well, we’ll gloss over what actually happened there, but for the sake of playing to your obtuse attitude, we’ll say, “He didn’t send troops into iraq”.

                Does that make Bush I and II “interventionists” and Clinton a “non-interventionist”?

                Are you aware of what Clinton actually oversaw at the time in the region? and would you characterize US policy during Clinton’s time as “non-interventionist” relative to Iraq?

                because your pretension that “everything short of troops” is somehow ‘non-interventionist’ by definition should be seen as the meaningless facade in that particular example.

                And it should help illustrate to you how Carter’s decision to declare the ME a strategic interest of the US, even sans any troop deployments, was one of the most “interventionist” decisions in US history.

                if you still don’t get it, i can’t help you.

                1. Clinton, in between…. well, we’ll gloss over what actually happened there, but for the sake of playing to your obtuse attitude, we’ll say, “He didn’t send troops into iraq”.

                  Cruise missiles, massive bombing, wars in the Middle East AND Europe.

                2. because your pretension that “everything short of troops”

                  BTW, nice lie there.

                3. here’s a question =

                  Bush I sent troops into Iraq in 1990/1991

                  Bush II sent troops into Iraq in 2003

                  Clinton, in between…. well, we’ll gloss over what actually happened there, but for the sake of playing to your obtuse attitude, we’ll say, “He didn’t send troops into iraq”.

                  Does that make Bush I and II “interventionists” and Clinton a “non-interventionist”?

                  Are you aware of what Clinton actually oversaw at the time in the region? and would you characterize US policy during Clinton’s time as “non-interventionist” relative to Iraq?

                  Except Clinton enforced a no-fly zone over Iraq which carried with it the obvious threat of bullets and bombs.

                  because your pretension that “everything short of troops” is somehow ‘non-interventionist’ by definition should be seen as the meaningless facade in that particular example.

                  if you still don’t get it, i can’t help you.

                  Congratulations, you just beat the shit out of a strawman.

                  1. Clinton enforced a no-fly zone over Iraq which carried with it the obvious threat of bullets and bombs.

                    Which is exactly what i was referring to in the

                    “we’ll gloss over what actually happened there””

                    You don’t seem to have understood my point either.

                    his point was that all a president is responsible for was whether troops are deployed during their tenure.

                    My point was that you can have an effective state of war without anyone firing a shot.

                    And that general idea extends itself to “interventionist” policies like Embargoes, No-Fly Zones, and all the other punitive tools of diplomacy referred to as the “Carrot / Stick” stuff. My very point was that Clinton was as interventionist as anyone else in the region, merely by carrying on the policy of his forebears, even if nary a soldier set foot on Iraqi soil.

                    this is just illustrating my point how libertarians will change the definitions of ‘non-intervention’ to either narrow or expansive whenever they want to pretend its a viable working theory of foriegn relations.

                    1. Pretty much this. You’d think the people on here would understand that restricting access to a country’s markets or otherwise throwing military and economic weight around are “interventionist”, if the word’s to have any libertarian meaning, when it affects *individuals* in a foreign country. At which point the word loses meaning since it is essentially a call to eliminate “international relations” in a way that isn’t really plausible so long as individuals from your country choose to interact with foreigners in any way.

                    2. it is essentially a call to eliminate “international relations”

                      That’s basically right.

                      the fact is that states can not really avoid relating with one another. “non-relations” are in fact, “negative relations”. There is no such thing as non-involvement, really. Everyone is trapped on the planet together, and we generally have to find ways to co-exist with the minimal friction.

                      And all relations are inherently affected by power-disparities, even via the moderating influence of international-bodies like the UN. And everything that happens between parties involve coercion and threat (“carrot and stick”).

                      the idea that a nation can exist and yet completely avoid any sort of entanglement (*yes, i chose that word) in the systems of other nations is a myth.

                      at best, the entanglement can be minimized, and luckily when you’re the most powerful nation on earth… you have options that others’ don’t. However, as the most powerful nation on earth, you also become a target in ways other nations aren’t. and you get called upon by others to solve their problems for them.

                      non-intervention isn’t just impracticable; its not even a workable theoretical model. It mostly seems to be waved around as some “moral” ideal which allows libertarians to stamp their feet, declare themselves disgusted by everything… and consequently sideline themselves in any contemporary foreign policy issue.

                    3. Except with Malta. I think you could get by pretty easily by ignoring those guys. And Monaco. Oh, and Nauru. And definitely Tuvalu. Nobody cares if those guys get pissed. Oh, and Lichtenstein…. I mean, really… you could totally pretend they didn’t even exist.

                    4. You’re proving my point.

                      or do you sincerely think any of those things have a “Foreign Policy” which isn’t the utterly reliant on the goodwill of others/dependence on some other state for its?

                      i’ve made this point so many times its getting ridiculous. We can’t elect someone, have them wave a magic wand, and suddenly create the conditions by which the USA becomes “super-Switzerland” (or in your more-absurd case, “Mega-Tuvalu”).

                      when no one cares whether you exist or not, you can exist as an atomistic state with a buddhist-switzerland posture of total neutrality to the world.

                      When you’re the largest economy on the planet, and you can double or wipe out the GDP of many nations with minor fluctuations in your trade-policy… the model ceases to have much applicability

                    5. “…for its continued happy-neutrality”

                    6. Yeah, this is the internet. So I was really just going for funny small country names and some goofball snark.

                      And 4 countries smaller than Broward County off the top of my head was pretty good…. even though I had to use spell-check to get Lichtenstein spelled correctly.

        2. Jimmy “Camp David Accords” Carter? Don’t make me laugh.

          Andrew Bacevitch charts the interventions of the last ~40 years back to the Carter Doctrine, which declared the Middle East a strategic US-interest, and led to direct involvement in everything that’s gone on in the region since.

          the Carter Doctrine, enunciated in the president’s January 1980 State of the Union address: “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and as such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

          Carter’s combative national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, wrote later, “The Carter Doctrine was modeled on the Truman Doctrine.” Bacevich comments that the Truman Doctrine of ostensibly containing the Soviet Union while absorbing the richer portions of the decolonizing French and British Empires “invited misinterpretation and misuse, with the Vietnam War one example of the consequences.” Carter’s doctrine, modified but not rescinded by his successors, led to similar consequences in Afghanistan and Iraq.

          Probably not the best example.

          1. And what, exactly, did Carter do militarily?

            Yep, that’s right. Not a goddam thing.

            1. what, exactly, did Carter do militarily?

              Commit the US to 4 decades of babysitting the towelheads?

              did you not even read the above, or are you so dense that you don’t actually understand its significance?

              1. He can only commit the US to something within his term. After that, it’s on his successors. Or are you too dense to understand that?

                1. He can only commit the US to something within his term. After that, it’s on his successors.

                  yeah, that’s not really how foreign relations work. but thanks for playing.

              2. Commit the US to 4 decades of babysitting the towelheads?

                So it’s Carter’s fault Reagan sent the Marines into Lebanon?

                1. Of course it is because Carter made his doctrine part of the constitution. So poor Reagan had no choice.

                2. Of course it is because Carter made his doctrine part of the constitution. So poor Reagan had no choice.

                  1. War on Squirrels!

                3. I don’t know about Lebanon – i think the rationale there was different, and more to do with trying to get Israel and its neighbors to stop butting-heads. Which, incidentally, is due partly to the intermediary-policing-role which Carter jumped into feet-first w/ Camp David.

                  But the carter doctrine was unquestionably used as the basis for subsequent interventions in saudi arabia and the gulf.

                  =

                  The Carter administration began to build up the Rapid Deployment Force (which would eventually become CENTCOM). In the interim, the administration asked Congress to restart Selective Service registration, proposed an increase in military spending, and expanded the U.S. naval presence in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.[10]:855[11]:123

                  Carter’s successor, Ronald Reagan, extended the policy in October 1981 with what is sometimes called the “Reagan Corollary to the Carter Doctrine”, which proclaimed that the United States would intervene to protect Saudi Arabia, whose security was threatened after the Iran?Iraq War’s outbreak. Thus, while the Carter Doctrine warned away outside forces from the region, the Reagan Corollary pledged to secure internal stability. According to diplomat Howard Teicher, “with the enunciation of the Reagan Corollary, the policy ground work was laid for Operation Desert Storm”.[12]

              3. I read it and found it pretty enlightening. I think most of us take “intervention” to mean military action. You advocate for a broader definition. I think you make a good case.

                1. You advocate for a broader definition.

                  i’m actually recommending abandoning the notion of “non-interventionism” as a concept.

                  It makes libertarians sound incredibly stupid when it comes to talking about foreign policy.

                  If the “best example” of a non-interventionist president is the person who *@#(*&! literally authored the strategic-policy-framework* that led to 4 decades of US mucky-muck in the Middle East….? then you’re stretching the notion to the point of meaninglessness.

                  The fact is that in practice, all foreign relations have elements of implied or explicit coercion or incentive.

                  Purist libertarians have pretended that there is a theoretical framework where this can somehow be avoided. It can’t.

                  The best that can be hoped for is a foreign policy which explicitly defines its interests in narrow terms, and strictly avoids doing the kind of dumb shit Carter did = inserting ourselves in other people’s conflicts that the US has little/no direct interest in.

                  Nothing is “non-interventionist”. Everything is either more or less so…. or better or worse in serving our interests.

                  And I think libertarians are wrong to settle and think “anything short of war” is *always* better. I certainly think Obama’s “meddling everywhere, committing nowhere” is possibly the most dangerous approach in how it deludes people into thinking we’re NOT actually currently at war in Yemen, Somalia, Syria, etc. right now.

      2. Coolidge’s signature foreign policy gesture =

        Coolidge also signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which renounced war as a means of solving conflicts. Named for the U.S. Secretary of State and for French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand, the proclamation carried with it no means of enforcement.

        I am reminded of this.

  23. RE: Trump’s Foreign Policy: ‘To the Victor Belong the Spoils’

    I’m sure Trump the Grump’s best buddy Putin would agree.

  24. Not going to defend Trump here. Don’t have the TDS yet but his foreign policy could be kinda scary, maybe, sorta. But I am afflicted with HDS. She scares the shit outa me. Haven’t yet succumbed to GJDS, I’ve had time to build up my immunity, so guessing he’ll be getting my vote.

    1. Keep Hillary out no matter what.

  25. I just read that Iceland has no standing army. Seems like that might be a good place to start a country. We can like just plant a flag and say we’re the new government, everyone just go about your business.

  26. Was talking to the MIL (No, she’s not a MILILF) about Obama’s visit to Hiroshima. Like many Japanese, she thought it was great that he came and made appeals for peace in the world. “Um, he was conducting wars of aggression as he was making those ‘appeals for peace’. Hillary will certainly do the same deceitful BS.” She takes my side when my wife does something wrong, so I don’t push the MIL too much on this stuff. It’s so easy to point out Hillary’s/Obama’s hypocrisy that Trump will always have a chance.

    1. What Obama and Hillary say is far more important than what they do.

      And Trump is unacceptable because of what he says.

      I don’t get it either.

  27. And here’s the NYT’s equally nuanced and subtle take…

    Donald Trump’s Foreign Policy = The Cold War Redux, Only More Racist

  28. Trump is a loose cannon, but let’s consider his wildness with 8 years of Obama’s presidency.

    Obama moved to action on Libya without congressional authorization, which was either outright unconstitutional or the sort of unilateral action that the left used to decry. He also delayed a bunch of ACA deadlines with no input from anyone whatsoever. Only last year or so he was busted for trying to make illegal recess appointments and signed off on a bunch of executive decisions. The drone strikes and arming rebels are self explanatory.

    Trump could be worse. But the difference between Trump (also George Bush) and Obama is that the former will not have his own party and the servile media cut him carte blanches at every turn. “Oh he’s trying to cut through the gridlock” was the dem’s response to Obama’s borderline imperial presidency. He has made the sort of mistakes that would crucified the nominal generic white republican.

    I’m no Trump fan (my vote in “stay at home” or possibly GJ). But I see no scenario in which Clinton is LESS dangerous than Trump. She WAS an interventionist. And she’ll have the party majority and backings from the SJWs to enact her “free college and everything else” wet dream.

  29. Molly . I can see what your saying… Samuel `s c0mment is unimaginable… last monday I got a great new Infiniti after bringing in $6142 this past month and-also, $10k lass month . without a question it is the most comfortable work I’ve had . I began this 5 months ago and straight away began to make over $81 p/h

    +_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+ http://www.factoryofincome.com

  30. Christopher . if you, thought Maria `s postlng is astonishing… on thursday I got a gorgeous Honda NSX from having made $8819 this-past/5 weeks and-more than, $10 thousand this past munth . without a doubt it is the nicest work Ive had . I started this 8-months ago and pretty much immediately startad bringin home at least $78.
    +_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+ http://www.factoryofincome.com

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