The Daily Caller has published the portion of its interview with Donald Trump that pertains to foreign policy. As was the case with the Hugh Hewitt interview, Trump reveals some good instincts, but also plenty of ignorance.
Here are excerpts, along with my comments.
The Daily Caller: Let me ask you some foreign policy questions. You called Hillary Clinton the worst secretary of state in American history. Is there any past secretary of state that you would want your secretary of state to model themself after?
Donald Trump: No, because times are so different and times are so much more complex now. We’ve never had a complex era like we do now.
Really? How about when we were on the brink of World War II? How about when the Soviet Union was testing President Kennedy throughout much of the world, including Cuba? How about when it invaded Afghanistan and Iran was undergoing revolution?
In any event, the complexity of our times is no excuse for not being able to name a Secretary of State who can serve as a model. Trump is trying to hide the fact that he knows little about past Secretaries of State. In doing so, he shows he knows little about past foreign policy crises.
Trump: …This is a very, very complex world, so I don’t like to specifically mention names, because if I mention names, some people are going to say, “Oh, well, I didn’t like him because he was weak on something.” And I think it’s not a good thing for me to do, to mention a specific name.
Trump has come up with a second excuse to cover his lack of knowledge. But if he could think of a Secretary of State he admired, Trump could qualify his answer by pointing to an area where the Secretary came up short or by simply saying he doesn’t agree with everything the Secretary did.
TheDC: What would you do the first day in office with the Iran deal?
Trump: Well, it’s going to be a signed contract, number one. And number two, and it’s going to be signed, sealed, and, unfortunately, done. Don’t forget, that’s going to be in a year and a half, right? So it’s going to be a signed contract, and that means a lot when you have it. But I would police that contract. . . .
Trump is reverting to his comfort zone — the world of contracts. But international relations aren’t governed by contracts and contract law.
The Iran deal will not be a Treaty because the Senate will not have ratified it, as the Constitution requires. Therefore the deal is not “sealed.” As president, Trump would be free to walk away from it.
It’s shocking that Trump doesn’t understand this.
TheDC: Would you have supported [Mubarak] even if the cost of that might have been that he would have to almost deploy the military against the protesters in the square?
Trump: That would have all depended on the circumstance. I’ll tell you what I would not have done, I would not have gone into Iraq and I’m down in 2003 as saying that. Going into Iraq is what destabilized the Middle East.
More ignorance from Trump. Going into Iraq didn’t destabilize the Middle East. The Arab Spring triggered the destabilization. The Iraq invasion destabilized Iraq for some years, but it apparently caused Iran to stop working on its nuclear program and caused Libya to end its program.
The U.S. didn’t go into Syria and it’s “destabilized.” Same with Yemen. We didn’t go into Libya until it was already unstable.
Trump cannot discuss the world intelligently. He’s stuck on a few talking points — the Iraq intervention was a disaster; everyone’s taking advantage of us; I’m a great negotiator of contracts — which he uses to answer whatever question is put to him.
If his talking points won’t do the trick, then it’s a “gotcha” question from a third-rate questioner.
TheDC: What did you make of America’s decision to go into Libya under President Obama?
Trump: I think that his decision on Libya was not a good decision, because you look at what’s happened, it’s a disaster.
TheDC: Did you know Gaddafi? I know he came to New York and …
TheDC: What did you think of him?
Trump: I actually rented him a house that he never got to use. I was very proud of that. He paid me a fortune for one night for a house that he never got to use.
With Trump it’s always personal and it’s usually about making a buck. Gaddafi was an important figure on the world stage for decades. All Trump can say about him is that he got the better of the dictator on a one-night rental.
The best defense of Trump is that his instincts are sound and he can learn the facts later. The problem is that the man is so full of himself that there’s no reason to be confident he’ll bother to learn them.