What Trump doesn’t get about NATO, in Conservative Review, is a neoconservative critique of his foreign policy. Read it carefully and you’ll see why neoconservatism is going extinct. It’s Wilsonian idealism, no more, no less, and it has no constituency. The troubling thing about the article is that it’s author, a Bush 2 veteran named Kristofer L. Harrison, says he is a foreign policy adviser to Ted Cruz. I thought Cruz was moving away from foreign entanglements toward the end of his campaign. Maybe it was a head fake.
Harrison says NATO is an expression of our shared values with Europe, and that those values are threatened by the Russian aggression against the Ukraine. He says that our shared commitment to those values allowed us to win the Cold War, and that those same values should motivate us to defend the Ukraine against Russian aggression.
But, of course, today Russia is not the leader of a world wide conspiracy to impose communism on the free world. It is a Christian European nation devoted to its own survival and self interest. Sort of like us, except it’s authoritarian (as it always has been), and we, thank God, are thousands of ocean miles from Europe. When Cassius Clay was drafted, he said he didn’t have any fight against any Viet Cong, whoever they were, and he was right. And we don’t have any fight against the Russians. They’re no threat to us, to freedom of the seas, or to world domination. Putin is racing against a demographic time bomb, and he wants there always to be a Russia, and he wants Russia respected as the great power it still is. If Trump is elected he should meet with Putin and come to a broad understanding with respect to our respective spheres of influence and shared goals. We have a lot in common, and very little to fight about. We’re about to join Russia as one of the great energy exporting countries of the world. Nobody wants a war. We’re both under attack from the Islamists. We’ve got a lot to talk about.
Trump’s nationalism is one reason he might win. His populism is a reason he should lose. Andrew Jackson was a nationalist, but he was no populist, and he’s the man Trump should try to be (although, it must be said — good luck with that). Jackson was a hard core constitutionalist. One of his most controversial actions, the veto of the Bank of the United States, was done out of constitutional principle. His response to talk of secession was to threaten to hang any man who tried it. Jackson was no scholar, but he respected those who were, the Framers, and he knew the system they devised was a repudiation of direct democracy, or populism. The whole Constitution was designed as a defense against the untrammeled will of the people. Trump doesn’t read, but maybe someone could do an audio tape of the Federalist Papers and he could listen to it in his sleep.
This is all a foreign language to Clinton, but it’s familiar to Gary Johnson. He’s a libertarian, and therefor a constitutionalist. Is he a nationalist? There’s certainly no contradiction between the two. Selling constitutionalism and opposition to foreign adventurism at the same time is easy. Revive the power of the purse, along with the Congressional war making power, and you’re restoring the Constitution as well as restraining the war hawks.
To gain some cred as a nationalist Johnson needs to spell out, in some detail, his plan for dealing with ISIS. They must be wiped from the face of the earth. Their New Caliphate should be reduced to smoke and ashes. Forget the U.N., assemble a coalition of the willing (including, of course, Russia), conduct a police action, and then get out. And as we leave tell the Islamists of the world if they try to seize any territory in the future they’ll be incinerated just as ISIS was.
I’m reading Walter Isaacon’s Kissinger, and reacquainting myself with realpolitik. It’s really nothing more than cold blooded nationalism. Henry Kissinger is a full blooded American patriot and a brilliant man. Gary Johnson should get to know him.