Donald Trump’s National Security

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A primary concern for many regarding the at-the-time potential election of Donald Trump to be the president of the United States was his effect on American foreign policy and security. He has virtually no foreign policy experience. His foreign policy advisers on the campaign trail were inexperienced and not well-known within foreign policy circles. Numerous GOP officials who had previously served in a national security capacity in previous Republican administrations authored a public letter declaring that the foreign policy positions Donald Trump had adopted during the campaign were dangerous and could threaten U.S. national security. Donald Trump could threaten the international world order, they warned. World leaders and international organizations were concerned about the effect Trump would have on international security and foreign policy.

These concerns have not dissipated following Donald Trump’s victory. Now that he has been elected his administration looks to be short on national security staff and experts. His apparent choices for Cabinet officials which would deal with national security issues engender little enthusiasm or confidence. He is still denying remarks he made regarding an encouragement of nuclear proliferation. While foreign leaders have taken a conciliatory tone when talking about and to Donald Trump and it would seem Trump has softened on some of his positions regarding foreign policy, on others he has not. President Obama has stated, after meeting with President-elect Trump, that on some issues Trump will have to soften his positions for them to be tenable.

What are Donald Trump’s positions and thereby potential policies on U.S. foreign and security policy? And what does empirical research have to say about the potential consequences on these policies?

First, a look at some of the policies:

Now, what does empirical evidence suggest about the outcome of these policies, if enacted?

In short, every one of these potential Trump policies would decrease U.S. national security. While it remains uncertain that any of Trump’s positions will be effectively put into policy, or what shape that policy would ultimately take, as pure issue positions they appear to be poor. And have been declared as such by foreign policy experts, both academics and practitioners, since Donald Trump first began elucidating them. There are no sure things in foreign policy and any policy can be potentially dangerous, but these positions are dangerous on their face.

That is why the lack of foreign policy experience and knowledge of Donald Trump and among his advisers is particularly concerning. A lack of experience and knowledge signals a lack of understanding as to the potential consequences of the policies. Consequences which seem to be a less secure United States.


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