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Let’s make Donald Trump’s foreign policy great again

If I were Trump's speechwriter, here's the foreign policy portion of tonight's speech that I'd submit to him.

Donald Trump points to running mate Mike Pence after the Indiana governor’s speech accepting the Republican nomination for vice president Wednesday night at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
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This exercise would have been a lot easier 24 hours ago.

It will not surprise readers that the hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts is not a big fan of Donald Trump’s foreign policy. But as Thomas Wright noted back in January, Trump has articulated a coherent and consistent worldview for decades now, and it’s a worldview that hasn’t been prominent in American foreign policy discourse for seven decades. And like Michael Dougherty, I think there is some validity in some of the foreign policy criticisms that Trump has lodged. The problem, as Dougherty noted in the Week, is that, “the few good causes which he espouses — the ones which could stand on their own, apart from the crutches of noxious racism and populism he uses to prop them up — are too important to be entrusted to him.”

The problem, of course, is Trump. He knows very little about foreign policy, his articulations of his worldview have been God-awful, and his staff has been incompetent. So I got to thinking: As Trump prepares to deliver the biggest speech of his life this evening, is there any way to rhetorically redeem his foreign affairs philosophy? In other words, is it possible to craft a few paragraphs that would:

  • Clearly articulate Trump’s foreign policy;
  • Explain why it’s superior to Hillary Clinton’s worldview;
  • Not consist of blatant falsehoods;
  • Consist of words that Trump would say?

Of course, this exercise was planned before Trump set off another foreign policy dumpster fire with his New York Times interview. When Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic can write:

The Republican nominee for president, Donald J. Trump, has chosen this week to unmask himself as a de facto agent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a KGB-trained dictator who seeks to rebuild the Soviet empire by undermining the free nations of Europe, marginalizing NATO, and ending America’s reign as the world’s sole superpower.

Without much pushback, you know you’ve stepped in it.

But in some ways, that makes this exercise more and not less relevant. The problem all along in this dumpster fire of a campaign has been that Clinton, as the only grown-up in the room, gets a policy pass that she wouldn’t have gotten if the Republican candidate were better.

America deserves better than this. The content of what I’m about to write I find mostly abhorrent, but I’d prefer it be properly articulated so there can be an actual foreign policy debate. The difficulty is that Donald Trump is the worst possible messenger.

Still, challenge accepted! If I was Rainbow Sparkle Melissa McIver Trump’s amanuensis, here’s what I’d have him say tonight about U.S. foreign policy:

My fellow Americans, we need to shake the rust off of American foreign policy. For too long, experts have told us that they know the best way to advance American interests. For too long, we have listened to them without objection. These same experts were unanimous that invading Iraq in 2003 was a good idea. These same experts were unanimous in advocating a globalist agenda in which the interests of bankers and corporations were put ahead of the American worker.

We, my fellow Americans, know better. We didn’t need some talking head to tell us that Iraq cost us too much blood and treasure and led to the creation of ISIS. We didn’t need some economist to tell us that opening trade with China the way we did was a disaster for American workers. We certainly don’t need any experts to tell us what we think about immigration! And the same experts who proposed all of these disasters now want crooked Hillary Clinton to be elected president.

Enough is enough, my fellow Americans! Believe you me, we can do better!

I stand here before you to propose that we let America be America again. For the first 150 years of our history, we were tough with our armed forces and smart about our trade policies.As a result, America became the greatest, most powerful country in the world. For the next 70 years of our history, America generously opened its borders and defended the free world. The world became safer. America became relatively poorer.

We need to make America great again, and to do so we need to go back to our roots and look to the future. We need to remember to the wise words of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. They cautioned us against foreign entanglements and free trade. And believe you me, my administration will take those cautions to heart.

In the 21st century, the world has changed, but our foreign policy tools have not. This has to change. So in my first hundred days in office, I will order a strategic review of every alliance commitment and trade treaty on our books. And I will publish that review, to show which ones really benefit the United States and which ones used to benefit the United States.

I will preserve and bolster the alliances that continue to serve our interests. But I will also renegotiate those agreements that have turned against America. If I know anything, I know how to negotiate and renegotiate deals. I will drive a hard bargain for America!

Some of this won’t be easy, my friends, but it’s worth it. Our forefathers knew that making America great required risk and guts and toughness. I will bring those qualities back to the White House.

By putting America first, I will also help America’s true allies. For too long, they have been unsure of America’s commitments. President Obama has needlessly scared vital allies in the Middle East. A Trump administration will be firm about our true commitments. The current president has complained about free-riders. He complains about it, but he does nothing that matters. When I’m president, the free ride will come to an end! Only when our allies stand on their own two feet will a relationship of mutual respect be possible.

Next week, Hillary Clinton will try to warn Americans that what I’m proposing is reckless and dangerous. She can try. We don’t need someone who supported war in Iraq and Libya to tell us what’s reckless! We don’t need someone who sent classified emails on an unprotected server to tell us what’s dangerous! We need a foreign policy grounded in common sense, not in some Washington salon. So when you hear her hector me, remember that she hasn’t had an original thought on foreign policy in twenty years. And that’s why we’re in the mess we’re in now!!

If you vote for me, my fellow Americans, I promise to make our foreign policy work for you. Believe you me, I will put America — and all Americans — first!

Thank you, and may God bless these United States of America!