- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Donald Trump is poised to change U.S. foreign and domestic policy to match more closely the mood of the nation.

Now widely regarded as the probable Republican presidential standard bearer, the New York billionaire has outlined changes that would radically alter the course his party’s leadership has pursued for more than a decade.

In his Wednesday speech, carried live on cable news networks, Mr. Trump made clear that as president he would pursue an America-first foreign policy.

“My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people and American security first,” he told an audience at the historic Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C.

In his opposition to nation building and intervention abroad while building up military power unmatched anywhere in the world, Mr. Trump reminded viewers of Ronald Reagan over his eight years as president — and of Reagan White House aide Pat Buchanan in his campaign to rip the 1992 GOP nomination from President George H.W. Bush.


SEE ALSO: Pundits rip, ridicule Trump’s foreign policy speech


Like other Republican and conservative critics of wars they regarded as unnecessary and unwinnable, Mr. Trump said he too had warned President George W. Bush that an Iraq invasion would be a colossal foreign policy mistake that would destabilize the Middle East and potentially bankrupt the U.S.

Remarkably, Mr. Trump won praise for his speech from John R. Bolton, who was ambassador to the United Nations under the younger Bush and has consistently endorsed an aggressive military stand by the U.S. over the years.

“The speech put Trump in the mainstream of Republican foreign policy,” Mr. Bolton told The Washington Times. “That’s what he needed to accomplish, and that’s what he did.”

Mr. Trump may have gone a long way toward bridging a heretofore unbridgeable gap. On one side have been neoconservatives and others on the political right who have pushed for military intervention to implant Western values and democracy where they don’t exist. On the other side of the gap have been traditional conservatives who argued that the only way to export Western values and democracy is to remain a shining city on the hill for other peoples to emulate — or not.

Critics on the right and in the press labeled the latter stand as isolationist when espoused by Mr. Buchanan or by Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky when those men sought the Republican nomination.

On jobs and trade, Mr. Trump showed off a populism that got Mr. Buchanan tagged as a protectionist — among the worst terms in the Republican free market vocabulary.

Mr. Trump has castigated multi- and bilateral trade pacts negotiated by U.S. leaders of both parties up till now as amateurish cave-ins and giveaways.

“We will no longer surrender this country or its people to the false song of globalism,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday.

“Under a Trump administration, no American citizen will ever again feel that their needs come second to the citizens of a foreign country,” Trump said.

Mr. Trump may be the first Republican to achieve success while emphasizing fair — or “smart” as Mr. Trump calls it — trade as the prerequisite to free trade.

“We’ve gotta be the smart people,” he told an audience in Indianapolis earlier. “You know, I’m a free trader. I wanna be smart. I wanna have smart trade.”

Where Mr. Trump violated GOP orthodoxy most egregiously may be his warning that he will not let U.S. companies like Carrier air conditioning, which has headquarters in Indianapolis, move thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs to lower-wage foreign countries.

Mr. Trump has aid he would impose a huge import duty on companies like Carrier that move their manufacturing abroad then try to ship the finished produced for sale back to the U.S. market.

His views on military intervention, nation building, free vs. smart trade and the export of U.S. jobs coincide with the views of most Americans in polls in recent years. But those popular views have been largely ignored by Republicans in Congress and in the party’s top leadership.

Less measured by polls is the idea that America’s friends have obligations to the U.S. Mr. Trump said he will pursue a foreign policy based on America’s interests and the shared interests of allies, so long as those allies carry their share of the mutual defense burden. He said only four of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 28 nations are contributing their fair share — a complaint heretofore considered undiplomatic in a president or presidential candidate.

Where recent GOP candidates have mostly strived to show how tough on foreign challenges they’d be in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump has taken an almost polar stand.

With Mr. Trump at the helm, he promised, the U.S. “will never go to war unless it’s absolutely necessary and then only to win.”

“War and aggression will not be my first instinct My goal is to establish a foreign policy that will endure,” he said.

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