Free Minds & Free Markets

Donald Trump, Peacenik President?

Historian Thaddeus Russell on Trump's libertarian foreign policy.

U.S. presidents possess almost unilateral power to drop bombs on other countries, says historian Thaddeus Russell, and that's why it's very good news that Trump is most libertarian when it comes to foreign policy.

Russell, who's the author of A Renegade History of the United States and is currently writing a book on foreign policy, says Trump's enmity with the neocons at National Review and The Weekly Standard is "fantastic news for us and the world." He points out that Trump advisor (and likely future cabinet member) Newt Gingrich gave a 2013 interview with The Washington Times expressing second thoughts about his neocon past.

Though Trump has pledged to go after ISIS, his general philosophy seems far preferable to Hillary's systematic and carefully thought-out Wilsonian foreign policy. "I don't see a war with Russia and I don't see greater interventionism generally outside of [a] little pocket of the Middle East," says Russell.

Nick Gillespie caught up with Russell for an interview. Listen to the conversation below—or better yet subscribe to our podcast at iTunes.

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

  • OldMexican Blankety Blank||

    Remember when Obama received the Nobel Peace prize for him being there? Yeah, everybody had high hopes. None of that military adventurism from the Bush era.

    Now Trumpistas think El Trumpo is going to be the first non-interventionist president since James Buchanan. Let's see how much that enthusiasm lasts.

  • Zunalter||

    My bet is until about 3 years into our next invasion boondoggle.

  • The Fusionist||

    James Buchanan's foreign policy

    And there was the time, shortly before he became President, when Buchanan wanted to grab Cuba by the you-know-what.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    Bro the commentariat headquarters is located in a locker room.

  • Zero Sum Game||

    Wouldn't it be a laugh if Trump turns out to be great at foreign policy and the world starts to trust America not to bomb the everliving shit out of everything again? If he makes it through four years of that, would they give him a Nobel Peace Prize for it?

    Neither is going to happen, of course. Trump's such a boor that world leaders may outright refuse to attend a peace talk with him at the table. I leave you with a short poem:

    A Nobel for Trump?
    It is a non-starter,
    even if he's as effective
    as old Jimmy Carter.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Donald Trump, President Elect: His first 100 seconds

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Don-ald-Trump, Don-ald-Trump. Six-foot-twenty, fucking killing for fun...

  • esteve7||

    he'll save children but not the __________ children

  • Fist of Etiquette||


  • jonnysage||

    How do you know he's libertarian on foreign policy? Becuse he says so? He's a politician now, thus everything is a lie.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Good morning, Media, you must be well rested after eight years of sleep. We tried waking you up before, but nothing seemed to work, that is until we changed the alarm clock sound to blare *TRUMP*TRUMP*TRUMP*TRUMP*.

    Boy, you sure shot right out of bed. I see you're bright-eyed and you've got your pencils sharpened... oh hey, kudos to you, NPR, I've tuned you in 3 times today and all three times you were going on about Trump's conflicts of interest with his businesses. Why, I got to thinking conflict of interest wasn't even a thing for people in higher office, but you've made me realize these things might be important.

    Anyway, I welcome your investigations into the inner workings of presidential power, they've been sorely missed.

  • DesigNate||

    That was fantastic Paul.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    I listened to NPR some while driving to work on Wednesday morning and every time I tuned it in, it was all about what people in other countries and/or minority groups thought about the election results.

    If they ever actually talked to a Trump supporter in this country or even someone who was just critical of Hillary, I never heard it.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    By talking to people in other countries, they were talking to Hillary supporters.

  • Mithrandir||

    The NPR talking about conflicts of interest. Talk about hypocritical.

  • block30||

    ^^^^^^^^What Paul said.

  • Eternal Blue Sky||

    On one hand, it'll be awesome if Trump sticks to what he's said on foreign policy.

    On the other hand, both Bush and Obama campaigned on supposedly less US Military Involvement, so right now my mind is forever locked in "Prove you'll reduce foreign war before I consider getting excited or praising you for it."

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Trump is going to turn off the war machine, and turn on our children!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    He'll save the children but not the Muslim children.

  • MSimon||

    Not save the Muslin children? People of the cloth don't get no respect.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I've been through a few elections now. My experience has been that every candidate says whatever they think they need to in order to win. Rarely does any of it become reality. I will save both my pants shitting and my happy dances for when actual policy changes are in the works, as opposed to now where they exist only in the fervent imaginations of derptards and pundits.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    I'm still waiting for Gitmo to close.

  • AlmightyJB||

    My guess is that he will use the high office to get pussy and will leave the policy stuff to the Washington machine.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    That's been my theory for a while now. He didn't really want the job of being president, he just wants the fringe benefits: a yuge mansion and jumbo jet all at taxpayer expense, people kissing his ass every time he enters a room, and of course all the pussy he can grab.

  • SQRLSY One||

    If'n he tries to grab any of my pussies, he's in for a total cat-fight!

    They're both terrified of strangers! "Chairman Meow" will scratch Trump's eyes out, and Trump is WAAAAY to old and slow to ever even CATCH "Socks the Silly Savage, Who Lives By the Sea"!!!

    But generally, please leave my pussies OUT of this!

  • CatoTheChipper||

    With Hillary you would have had R2P.

    With Trump, you just don't know. But real estate developers probably have an innate aversion to bombing buildings.

  • The Fusionist||

    Aversion to bombing *their own* buildings.

  • The Fusionist||

    When insurance starts covering acts of war, maybe he'll bomb his own buildings too.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    When the bombs drop, they will all have "eminent domain" stenciled on the side.

  • The Fusionist||

    "I got a development project so great it will literally blow you away, believe me."

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Paulie Krugnuts approves this message.

  • Quincy.||

    Bomb yield is measured in KeloTons for a reason.

  • To: Trshmnstr From: Hrod [C]||

    Paging Swiss! Swiss to Aisle 6.

  • Nunya||

    Must finally be those shovel ready jobs we heard so much about 6 years ago.

  • Longtobefree||

    Well, I suspect we will need a shovel - - - - -

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    There's no chance in hell of ever getting a non-interventionist President. We trade with too many people and are involved in too many multilateral deals for that to be anywhere close to feasible. Our Navy and merchant marine protection of trade alone would be a no-go.

    OTOH, we could potentially have a Reagan-Carter situation of very few military conflicts and very limited engagement. I for one wouldn't mind that.

  • Bra Ket||

    yeah hopefully we don't get a massive terrorist attack 9 months in this time that throws the entire plan out the window.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I'll hold off on celebrating until I find out who his SoS nominee is going to be. If he nominates Giuliani or some other Neocon, then that will be a pretty bad indicator that he's not going to have a non-interventionist foreign policy. As someone pointed out upthread, he's a politician now. You can't just take his word for anything.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    "OTOH, we could potentially have a Reagan-Carter situation of very few military conflicts and very limited engagement."
    In my 60 years on the planet this was the only period of anything like non aggression by the USA despite Reagan's contra mischief and budget busting military spending. With Hilary in charge we'd be guaranteed a continuation of the endless war we've had ever since. At least with Trump I can hope for better days.

  • Pay up, Palin's Buttplug!||

    What about the invasion of Grenada and US support for the UK in the Falklands, the mujahideen in Afghanistan, and for Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War?

  • Acosmist||

    Stop, I can't get any more erect.

  • MJBinAL||

    Good points, but compared to Chairman Bush and Comrade Obama, small potatos.

  • The Fusionist||

    "I've got the best foreign relations. Just look at Melania."

  • Cloudbuster||

    I've seen worse arguments. And I've looked at that argument very, very closely.

  • 0x90||

    MELANIA 2020

  • Cloudbuster||

    it's very good news that Trump is most libertarian when it comes to foreign policy.

    Yet most of the "libertarians" here preferred Clinton. Go figure.

  • block30||

    I don't believe that for one second.

  • MJBinAL||

    I do, most of the "libertarians" here are liberals who want to smoke pot.

  • ||

    Trump does sound awfully peacenik compared to Hillary for anyone who has been listening. And this is sort of important when you consider that Hillary wants to attack Iran and antagonize Russia to the point of war for no good reason.

  • sungazer||

    That's an awful big turn around from his official stance earlier in the year from increasing the troop presence in Asia.

    "Strengthen our negotiating position by lowering our corporate tax rate to keep American companies and jobs here at home, attacking our debt and deficit so China cannot use financial blackmail against us, and bolstering the U.S. military presence in the East and South China Seas to discourage Chinese adventurism."

    Bombing the shit out of ISIS is not withdrawing from the middle east. So about what we've got is maybe ending a trade war with Russia because he wants to support Russia's takeover of Ukraine (and we're not actually helping Ukraine there). It's a nice thought, but I Trump doesn't shit rainbows and is trying to close all the borders.

  • MJBinAL||

    Actually, if you take Trump at this word, he wants to focus on the important stuff. He defines that as stopping ISIS. Not creating western style democracies in the middle east.

  • Bill C||

    bad link for Newt Gingrich 2013 interview:

  • Pat (PM)||

    Wait a minute, I was told by some prominent libertarians that Trump was going to L-I-T-E-R-A-L-L-Y start a nuclear war immediately following his inauguration?

  • The Fusionist||

    And you can refute

    You'll have to wait with the rest of us and see what he does!

  • The Metonymy||

    I hope so. No more of that left-wing pansy bullshit like Ronald "talk to the Russians instead of nuking them" Reagan.

  • MJBinAL||

    Yeah, although,if talking to them amounts to a "Mine is bigger than Yours, partner", it can sometimes work. (Especially if it is!)


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