‘Neocon Clinton courts regime change, isolationist Trump wants less US meddling abroad’

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign event in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States, April 27, 2016 © Jim Young
Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is against foreign intervention, and seeks diplomacy with China and Russia, a stance that has alienated him from members of his own party who may vote for Clinton, journalist Rania Khalek told RT.

Trump revealed his foreign policy on Wednesday, which embraces a more isolationist ‘America First’ policy, which could see less US military operations overseas should the billionaire businessman enter the White House.

RT: In light of Donald Trump revealing his foreign policy stance, which points are likely to be put into practice and which are likely to remain just good sound bites, if he becomes US President?

Rania Khalek: Donald Trump says a lot of things, he flip flops a lot, but there is one consistent message he has had throughout his campaign – a message of anti-interventionism. Trump, when it comes to foreign policy, has been repeatedly invoking these ideas that are in many ways isolationist in comparison to the way US foreign policy is right now. He has repeatedly said he is against the US meddling abroad, he is against foreign intervention, and he seeks diplomacy with countries like China, Russia, and before he did use to say Iran as well until he was attacked heavily for that. 

What Trump has tried to do, he has tried to straddle this kind of balance, this line between neo-conservatism, which dominates US foreign policy at the moment, and isolationism, which is much more in keeping with a kind of message he’s had throughout his campaign…

The bigger story here isn’t just what Trump said, because he has been saying these things at every Republican debate, and he has been getting a lot of backlash for it. The big story here is that, if you look at the two frontrunners in the race right now – you have Donald Trump on the Republican side and the likely nominee of the Democratic Party is going to be Hillary Clinton. We’re looking at an interesting situation, where we’re likely to go into a general election, or we’re going to see a debate between a Democrat Hillary Clinton, who is going against Donald Trump, and she is going to be to his right on foreign policy.

RT: Trump's foreign policy promises a drastic departure from what we have heard from Hillary Clinton. When comparing the foreign policy stances of the two, which candidate sounds like a more reasonable choice for the US and the world at large?

RK: It’s very strange, because Trump is this demagogue, who has been saying really crazy, racist and bigoted things. But when it comes to foreign policy his message to the world – we don’t have a record to compare it to, because he has never been in political office before - but just based on his words and his speech… it was a much more reasonable and far less belligerent foreign policy outline than is the bipartisan consensus that exists in Washington D.C. right now.

I would argue that also Hillary Clinton is even more belligerent than that bipartisan consensus. Clinton in many ways is a neoconservative. Clinton is somebody who is very much interested in regime change and she says this openly. She was involved in it in Libya, which was absolutely disastrous, as Trump pointed out. She also participated in the overthrow of the regime in Honduras, which is now in chaos, as well. People are fleeing violence from that country. Clinton is somebody who is very much interested in continuing these kinds of foreign policy blunders like the Iraq War. Like Libya, where, as Trumps is talking about – he spoke of less military aggression. He said our number one priority should be stability and peace. So if you are somebody in the outside world, abroad, outside of the US, especially in the Middle East or someone in Central America – seeing Trump’s message today contrasted with the kind of message that we see from someone like Clinton, there’s no question that he is the preferred candidate.

RT: How do you find his chances if he comes up against Hillary Clinton?

RK: Because of domestic US politics he is very unlikely to win as president of the US just because of his race baiting, his language, etc. There is a large portion of the Republican Party that is opposed to Donald Trump, not because of his racism, but because he is out of step and out of line from that neo-conservative hawkish outlook that they prefer. And they are likely to be voting for Clinton instead. Liberals are certainly not going to vote for Trump. Hillary Clinton is likely going to be the next president if it is between the two of them.

However, it is going to be interesting seeing them debate each other, because he is going to be able to say to her: “You voted for the Iraq war, I opposed it. Look what you did in Libya, I opposed that. ISIS shows up wherever you go intervening.” … He is going to be attacking her from her left. There is also the issue of trade policy in the US. I don’t think it’s going to make a difference domestically, but it certainly is going to be interesting to watch internationally.

Trump’s philosophy: less military power

US Defense analyst and author Ivan Eland suggests Trump has his own philosophy, which seems to be less military intervention and more the usage of philosophy. 

RT: What do you make of Trump’s statement that foreign policy under President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was a “total disaster?”

Ivan Eland: I think it is a bit overstated, but I think he is onto something. He is kind of a crazy candidate, but his views are very sensible and they are in the realist school of foreign policy, which Obama has purported to be as well. But Obama sort of deviated from that in going into Libya and trying to overthrow the government there, going back into Iraq and Syria, running an illegal drone war. So I think a lot of the criticisms of Obama, although overstated, are valid. The idea that we should improve relations with Russia and China is a good one – in particularly with Russia. China is a question mark, but certainly the rise of China makes Russia and the US as they have many times in their history, their interests coincide. They also have an interest, as he pointed it out, in battling Islamic radicalism and Islamic terrorism.

RT: He also said that under his administration ISIS will be “gone quickly.” Do you think that’s possible without military intervention?

IE: That is a bit overoptimistic, because even if they take back the cities from ISIS, it’s going to go to ground and into a guerrilla-type operation. However, I think he is onto something when he says you just can’t use military power, you have to use philosophy. And his philosophy seems to be less military intervention. A lot of these Islamist groups have local interests, and that is fine. The US shouldn’t necessarily get involved, because then that converts a local interest into an international interest by battling the US. They get volunteers; they get money for doing that. If the US had a lower profile in the Middle East, we would have less of a problem with Islamic terrorism.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.