Reason Podcast

Donald Trump, Neocon: Bombing People In Order to Save Them [Reason Podcast]

Thaddeus Russell, Katherine Mangu-Ward, & Nick Gillespie talk Syria, Wilsonian foreign policy, and whether PBS Kids makes good soldiers.


Bombing Syria was the type of "foreign policy idea Donald Trump was railing against all through the campaign," says historian Thaddeus Russell, "but clearly the [Steve] Bannon and Steven Miller faction is waning or being pushed out, and now it's a return to the good old days of Wilsonianism: killing people in order to save them."

On today's podcast, Russell joins Reason editors Nick Gillespie and Katherine Mangu-Ward to talk about the Syria bombing, why "presidents become more warlike over time," how the Trump Administration's divide over foreign policy is reminiscent of a similar split in the Reagan White House, Reason magazine's cover story on "Why the Wall Won't Work" ("a fine summation" according to the New York Times' editorial board), and the subtext of U.S. Army Gen. (Ret.) Stanley McChrystal defense of federal funding for public broadcasting on the grounds that PBS makes kids better good soldiers.

"[McChrystal's] argument is precisely [the argument] cold war liberals were making in the '50s, 60s, '70s, and '80s," says Russell, "which is that we need a single, unified culture that makes everyone identify as Americans before identifying as individuals."

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Photo Credit: S. Craighead/U.S. Navy/SIPA/Newscom

NEXT: War Stories From the Charter School Movement

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  1. why “presidents become more warlike over time,”

    It’s been 3 fricken months! He’s been against Syrian intervention since at least 2013. Got to be the fastest flip flop in history.

    1. He bombed an airfield. He should have gotten congressional approval before hand, but surgical airstrikes aren’t exactly new under any American president.

      Obama bombed Libya to achieve regime change. The “boots on the ground” were whoever effectively staged a coup de tait in that nation. Trump isn’t there yet, although (ominously) he’s entertaining that idea.

      America will not be enthusiastically behind a serious effort to overthrow Assad. They won’t really care whether Trump cuts foreign aid or forces other nation to pay more for their defense instead of raiding America’s dollars.

    2. “presidents become more warlike over time,”

      Hey man, better to pop that cherry now than play coy maiden when the Russkies invade.

    3. Why it’s almost like there were pictures of gassed infants or something.

      But nope, he’s secretly been corrupted by the Jews! I mean, neocons

      It’s hilarious, all through the election the charges were that he was a Nazi. Now it’s his opponents embracing antisemitism

      1. It is fun to reach conclusions made from bare assertions of “their ” imaginary comments

        Carry on clinger

    4. It’s been 3 fricken months!

      Maybe he DOES have a chance to be Hitler then.

      Hilary would have been the same. Only more grating.

  2. “we need a single, unified culture that makes everyone identify as Americans before identifying as individuals.”

    It’s embarrassing but I recall having a piano in kindergarten and the teacher would play it sometimes and I’d always request the national anthem : /

    I also wanted to be a soldier.

    Seems crazy now for my 5 year old self to generate those thoughts on my own; the values must have been instilled from some source…?

  3. YOU’RE FIRED upon!

    The Deep State grabbed Trump by the pussy.

  4. Can we retire “neocon” by now? Clearly, this is the preferred bipartisan foreign policy of the US political establishment.
    It is perfect, a largely empty gesture with no real strategic value and no US interest involved so our politicians can pat themselves on the back for doing the right thing for humanitarian reasons in moderation. But calling this “neocon” renders the word kind of meaningless as a descriptor.

  5. Lyndon Baines Johnson and Richard Milhous Nixon would never have done anything of the sort, and that covers “both” parties, right?

  6. The United States Government’s “bombing countries and their people in order to save them” policy has been going on for more than a half-century, and Donald Trump is continuing it, and escalating it to newer, more intense proportions. It’s especially dangerous, since Trump is so volatile, unstable and out of control.

  7. With Donald Trumps attention span he probably forgot why he ordered a strike on Syria in the first place. He is just another puppet in a long list of puppets. After beating Hillary in the election he probably went over to apologize and she told him all would be forgiven if he would just start WWII which she had promised her foundation donors. With an IQ of 30 and the temperament of a 3 year old spoiled brat you can’t really hold him responsible. As a nuke is zeroing in on your butt just remember we the people are responsible for allowing a government so corrupt that anyone would actually think Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump would actually make a good President.

  8. A podcast featuring tinfoil hats all around.

    Your worst, Nick.

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