Donald Trump vs. GOP Foreign Policy Establishment (Part One)

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On March 2nd, 2016, 121 Republican national security experts penned an open letter opposing the GOP nomination of Donald Trump. The letter is short and concise but truly captures the emotions of many foreign policy practitioners, writers, and connoisseurs. Some of their objections included the following:

“…His advocacy for aggressively waging trade wars is a recipe for economic disaster in a globally connected world…his embrace of the expansive use of torture is inexcusable…his hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric undercuts the seriousness of combating Islamic radicalism by alienating partners in the Islamic world making significant contributions to the effort. Furthermore, it endangers the safety and Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of American Muslims…his insistence that close allies such as Japan must pay vast sums for protection is the sentiment of a racketeer, not the leader of the alliances that have served us so well since World War II.”

The authors believe that Mr. Trump’s statements make it extremely clear that “President Trump” would act against the best interest and the national security of the United States at home and abroad. The rest of this post and the next few posts will address some of the concerns listed above while expanding on the possible dangers of a Trump presidency.

Trade Wars

Mr. Trump consistently delivers misinformation (or maybe disinformation) to his supporters on the subject of trade. The infamous line, “We’re not winning anymore!” has taken hold and morphed the complex idea of an economic war between the great powers into a simple game of having one winner and one loser. It is in true populist style to cater political speech to the white majority, lower working class; a group that has directly experienced the negative impact of globalization and free trade. Their limited skill set has become obsolete, and many choose not to reorient themselves toward another industry or career. What matters less to Donald Trump and his supporters is the real story, the story of free trade and how there are winners and there are losers. Many US industries are the losers in this system, and the workforce, from an income standpoint, has been significantly harmed. However, every US worker is also a US consumer, and when you are a consumer, you prefer lower prices for goods and services. In our globalized system, we place an importance on the comparative advantage which allows each country the ability to produce and sell its best quality good(s) at the lowest price. Why does this matter to consumers? If country A makes the best quality sneakers at the best price, it is in the interest of Country B’s population to buy their sneakers from country A. If this system is functioning properly, consumers around the world have the ability to purchase goods and services of the highest quality and at the best possible prices. So why are so many US industries losers in this system? Well, the simple answer is that US workers expect higher salaries and substantial benefits. These advantages range from healthcare and retirement matching all the way to tuition reimbursement and company-subsidized legal and daycare services! How is it expected that companies pay for these benefits? The simple conclusion is that it would fall on the consumer before the business ever absorbed any cost into its profit margin or its free cash. I ask those in the United States, who are anti-trade, to answer the following questions: Would you prefer to pay $200 for sneakers made in the United States? Would you prefer to purchase any good at a 150 or 200 percent price increase? The US economy is a consumption-based and consumption will continue to dictate US trade policy now and for the foreseeable future.

Many believe, like all politicians vying for elected office, Donald Trump will say what is needed to get the nomination and gradually become more policy oriented and more pragmatic. Is this a risk worth taking?

Part Two of this blog tackles Mr. Trump’s views on US political and military alliances!

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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