‘Isolationist’ Trump Rattles His Saber, by Sheldon Richman

On any given day Trump can sound like an America Firster, espousing a foreign policy of noninterventionism. On any other given day, he can sound like a full-throated neoconservative. From Sheldon Richman at antiwar.com:

A few libertarians and other principled opponents of the warfare state assured us we likely would sleep easier with Donald Trump, rather than any neoconservative or humanitarian interventionist, in the White House. How’s that working out? Not so well. I’m hoarding melatonin and buying stock in Lunesta.

In its opening days the Trump administration has rattled the saber at Iran, China, and North Korea. This is hardly comforting, considering that pronouncements from Trump and his closest advisers could have come from the foreign-policy establishment he supposedly upended. If this is disruption, I’d hate to see what an embrace of The Consensus would look like. The possible appointment of Elliott Abrams, the quintessential neoconservative — architect of and apologist for mass murder in the Middle East — as deputy secretary of state is just one more sign that Peaceniks for Trump have been gulled. [UPDATE: Trump has decided not to appoint Abrams.]

What about Trump’s position on Russia? they will ask. What about it? Not taking Bill O’Reilly’s bait (transcript here) doesn’t count as being pro-peace, especially when Trump had his UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, warn that sanctions against Russia won’t be removed until Vladimir Putin relinquishes Crimea. Haley’s declaration was a reversal of Trump’s earlier, better (though flawed) position that sanctions would be tied to a mutual reduction of both countries’ nuclear arsenals. Now we’re back to the Obama position. One need not defend Russia’s move on Crimea (even if most inhabitants favored it) to see the context: the U.S.-engineered coup (backed by neo-Nazi elements) against Ukraine’s elected president in favor of a neocon favorite — not to mention the larger context: the decades-long expansion of NATO to the Russian border and incorporation of former Russian allies into the U.S-led sphere. Provocation begets counter-moves, which in the Ukrainian case were hardly surprising, considering the historical and strategic importance of Crimea to Russia. The Soviet Union is not being reconstructed.

To continue reading: ‘Isolationist’ Trump Rattles His Saber

 

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