Donald Trump is unfit to sit atop of America’s nuclear chain of command

The battle for the White House will centre on personalities. Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, uses a populist message to attract voters. President Barack Obama has accused the arrogant billionaire real estate tycoon and TV star, who denies inconvenient facts, of promoting ideas that betray American values.

Mr Trump advances a distorted, dark vision of America. He rouses negative emotions such as anger, fear and hate rather than hope and possibility. His picture of America is full of un-American pessimism and his agenda lacks any substance. He says that America is facing existential challenges and portrays himself in messianic terms. He is contemptuous of other views and invents conspiracy theories. He attacks the post-Second World War consensus. As president, Mr Trump will most likely create a security vacuum and leave it for America’s adversaries to fill. He will act to advance Russia’s interests.

Mr Trump is the Republican presidential nominee, but the Republican establishment doesn’t agree with his platform to build wall on the border with Mexico, close America to Muslims from terror-stricken nations and his opposition to free-trade and globalisation.

A vast majority of African-Americans, Hispanics (the fastest growing segment of the electorate) and American women have a negative view of Mr Trump. Two-thirds of voters dislike him, but his controversial and divisive rhetoric about large swathes of voters has had a low impact on his level of support. This phenomenon can be partly explained by the fact that Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, is almost as disliked by American voters as Mr Trump.

Republican orthodoxy of the past years has been fiscal discipline, openness to trade, tax cuts, entitlement cuts, government-shrinking, conservative stances on social issues and the hawkish foreign policy. Mr Trump’s platform is completely at odds with that.

Mr Trump has tapped into growing anger about stagnant living standards. His message of taking back control offers a glimmer of hope for those who have been left behind by globalisation, particularly white working-class voters who have seen their jobs leave for overseas. He attracts those who are hostile to free-trade deals and immigration as well as those who strongly oppose cutting social security benefits. Those people also share Mr Trump’s disdain for Washington elites and identify with his rightwing nationalism. They see foreigners as a threat.

Mr Trump has described Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, as a strong leader with whom he would have a very good relationship. He would as he misunderstands foreign-policy challenges and intends to turn decades of US foreign policy on its head.

Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 after illegally seizing the peninsula from Ukraine. Moscow has also inflamed conflict in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine’s mostly Russian-speaking Donbass region now operates independently from the central government in Kiev. Russia’s aggressive actions have led to anxiety within NATO. At this month’s NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland, the military alliance agreed to boost deployments in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia as a deterrent. Mr Trump said that he would look at recognising Crimea as Russian territory and rolling back Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia. Moreover, he suggested during an interview with the New York Times that under his presidency the US might not automatically defend its European allies, if they came under Russian attacks. Newt Gingrich, Mr Trump’s supporter and former speaker of the House of Representatives, belittled Estonia, saying that he was not sure whether he would risk the nuclear war over a place, which is a suburb of St Petersburg. These remarks were greeted with alarm on NATO’s eastern flank, particularly in the three Baltic countries. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which were once part of the Soviet Union, have Russophone minorities and rely on American protection.

NATO members are committed to spend at least 2 per cent of GDP on defence. The US meets the target, most European members do not. Mr Trump is right to criticise NATO’s free-riders, but calling into question a structure that has underpinned European stability since the end of the Second World War is reckless. NATO would cease to exist, if Russia’s adventurism inside NATO borders was left without a decisive response.

Mr Trump urged Russia to hack Mrs Clinton’s emails from her time as secretary of state in Mr Obama’s first term for messages she deleted in hopes of finding proofs of his crooked Hillary slur, even if they contain material sensitive to America’s national interests. That comment, which came as the FBI opened an investigation into the release of emails from the Democratic National Convention through WikiLeaks, indicates that Mr Trump puts his personal interests above America’s fundamental national interests.

Mr Trump’s words about US commitment to its European allies, suggestion that Japan and South Korea should consider developing nuclear weapons to respond to insecurity in East Asia and his backing of Russian spying on the US for his own political benefits, clearly indicate that he is ill-prepared to be America’s commander-in-chief. He will play into the hands of Russia’s president, whose foreign-policy objectives are to break up NATO, weaken the European Union and establish Russia as a superpower able to challenge the United States.

The right-of-centre Republican Party has been divided into factions with opposing views on key policy issues as Mr Trump won a record number of votes in the Republican primaries. The real estate tycoon won more than 13 million votes, ousting 16 Republican primary opponents with his populist make America great again campaign. Mr Trump has selected the governor of Indiana Mike Pence, a social and fiscal conservative, as his running mate and vice-presidential candidate as he attempts to bridge the divide between him and the Republican establishment and solidify support among Christian conservatives, who see him as a liberal New Yorker.

The Republican establishment is unease with Mr Trump. Paul Ryan, speaker of the House of Representatives, has offered the Republican presidential candidate the most tepid endorsement. Ted Cruz, the Texas senator who was one of Mr Trump’s most bitter rivals during the primaries, has refused to endorse him for president, telling his supporters to vote their conscience. If Mr Trump fails in November, Mr Cruz will potentially benefit in 2020 from refusing to endorse him in 2016. The two living former Republican presidents – George Bush senior and junior – and the two last Republican nominees – Mitt Romney and John McCain – didn’t attend the Republican convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Like his father, George W. Bush has refused to endorse Mr Trump as well. John Kasich, the Ohio governor, stayed away from the Republican convention. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, the leading former 2016 Republican candidates, were absent as well. This is a blow to Mr Trump’s hopes of presenting a united Republican front in the election to defeat Mrs Clinton.

photo: Disney | ABC Television Group Follow / CC BY-ND 2.0

WPJ

WPJ promotes public deliberation about world affairs between people with conflicting views and ideas.

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  • Michael Brytan

    Trump has already done so much damage to the prestige the United States of America has earned over the past few generations. Electing him to office will be the beginning of the end for the USA and Western Civilization.