Donald Trump Ready to Bring Troops Home

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If you were to wrap Donald Trump’s foreign policy into a nutshell…you would need a pretty big nutshell. In a new interview with The New York Times, Trump hammers out a broad view of America’s role in the world that doesn’t quite fit into any pre-defined ideologies. Far from being traditionally Republican and far from fitting into any Democratic playbook, Trump’s foreign policy is as unique as the candidate himself.

When the Times asked him if he wanted to see America withdraw from the world stage, Trump said, “I’m not an isolationist, but I am America First.” He said that he was willing to go back into the U.S.’s agreements with international partners and modify them if those countries were unwilling to contribute more enthusiastically to America’s interests. “We will not be ripped anymore,” he said.

For Trump supporters, their candidate’s refusal to be pegged into any easy slots is part of what they like about him. He’s no “neocon,” but he’s not over on the Rand Paul side, either. Perhaps inevitably, he sees geopolitics as another extension of the business world, and it is to this theme that he continually returns. In discussing Iran, China, NATO, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea, Trump insisted that the solutions lied in the realm of negotiations.

“We defend everybody,” he said. “When in doubt, come to the United States. We’ll defend you. In some cases free of charge.”

Trump’s theme is that America’s lopsided partnerships in the world are costing us militarily and economically. He’s as hawkish as any Republican when it comes to preserving a strong national defense, but he is much more careful about how that defense is used. In Trump’s view, we should be bringing troops home from areas like Saudi Arabia.

“If Saudi Arabia was without the cloak of American protection,” Trump mused, “I don’t think it would be around.” He said that Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries were taking advantage of American military presence for protection, giving them the freedom to avoid conflict themselves.

The Times opined:

He made no mention of the risks of withdrawal — that it would encourage Iran to dominate the Gulf, that the presence of American troops is part of Israel’s defense, and that American air and naval bases in the region are key collection points for intelligence and bases for drones and Special Operations forces.

Hey, look at that, the New York Times is supporting a muscular military presence in the Middle East! Funny how these things change according to who is saying what, isn’t it?

National security hawks will find little to love in Trump’s policies and peaceniks have been turned off by his casual attitude towards nuclear weapons. That leaves Trump to do what he has done better than anyone in 2016: Build a new coalition with fresh, unique ideas that don’t easily fit into any well-established categories.