Trump’s ‘America First’ Has Ugly Echoes From U.S. History

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivered his most comprehensive foreign policy speech to date in Washington, outlining a general vision for international relations that would reconfigure American responsibilities abroad to put “America first.”

Trump said during a speech organized by the National Interest magazine:

“My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people and American security above all else. That will be the foundation of every single decision that I will make. ‘America First’ will be the major and overriding theme of my administration.”

The speech included no dramatic new policy proposals that might generate headlines, such as his past calls to bar Muslims from entering the United States or to build a wall on the frontier with Mexico.

The real estate mogul said that a Trump administration would install a foreign policy vision that “replaces randomness with purpose, ideology with strategy, and chaos with peace.” He said that as president he would call for summits with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, and with Asian allies in the Pacific. Chief among his goals would be to update existing organizations to “confront shared problems, like terrorism and migration.”

Where he was specific, like rejecting the terms of last year’s nuclear deal with Iran, calling for more investment in missile defense in Europe and accusing the Obama administration of tepid support for Israel, he was firmly within the Republican mainstream.

(h/t Washington Post, Reuters, CNN)

Reality

Although Trump called for the United States to “shake the rust off of America’s foreign policy,” he delivered few specific proposals, instead focusing on outlining a broad framework the rests on demanding respect for the United States abroad.

It is extremely unfortunate that in his speech outlining his foreign policy goals, Donald Trump chose to brand his foreign policy with the noxious slogan “America First,” the name of the isolationist, defeatist, anti-Semitic national organization that urged the United States to appease Adolf Hitler.

At best the Trump campaign simply did not perform adequate research, which highlights how they are not prepared for presidential politics. At worst they are again appealing to white supremacists with another dog-whistle message.

Media

Trump Tells Ukraine Conference Their Nation Was Invaded Because ‘There is No Respect for The United States’

Plunging into a burning geopolitical conflict, Republican front-runner Donald Trump said Friday that Russia had pursued an aggressive policy in Ukraine because “there is no respect for the United States.”

“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin does not respect our president whatsoever,” said Trump.

But he held back from promising more U.S. support for a nation where almost 8,000 people have been killed since April 2014, saying that it was Europe’s responsibility.

Trump’s comments, delivered via videolink, represented a slight tonal shift for the billionaire, though his policy prescriptions remained essentially unchanged. Trump has said in the past that he “would not care that much” whether or not Ukraine was allowed to join NATO. (“Whether it goes in or doesn’t go in, I wouldn’t care,” he told NBC’s Chuck Todd last month. “If it goes in, great. If it doesn’t go in, great.”)

But on Friday, he was addressing an international conference whose official purpose is to “develop strategies for Ukraine and Wider Europe and promote Ukraine’s European integration” — a gathering that was itself a refugee from Crimea, where it was held for a decade before being displaced by Russia’s 2014 annexation of the peninsula. His language reflected the audience.

“With respect to the Ukraine, people here have to band together from other parts of Europe to help,” Trump said. “Whether it’s Germany or other of the countries, I don’t think you’re getting the support you need.”

The remarks were consistent with his previous comments that the crisis in Ukraine is a European problem, and that the United States should avoid becoming involved in addressing the situation. “I don’t like what’s happening with Ukraine,” he said on Meet the Press in August. “But that’s really a problem that affects Europe a lot more than it affects us. And they should be leading some of this charge.”

His NATO support has long been colored by his view that it gives European countries a pathway to place the burden of international responsibility on the United States. In his 2000 book, “The America We Deserve,” Trump wrote that “their conflicts are not worth American lives. Pulling back from Europe would save this country millions of dollars annually.”

(h/t The Washington Post)

Reality

First we require a little context.

Ukraine gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and has since veered between seeking closer integration with Western Europe and being drawn into the orbit of Russia, which sees its interests as threatened by a Western-leaning Ukraine.

During this time however, Russians never thought of Ukrainians as a separate entity from them, but considered them as fellow Russians. And Moscow loved having a pro-Russian country acting as a buffer between Russia and western NATO countries.

However inside Ukraine massive corruption was the status quo, from the bottom of the government to the very top.

Then Ukraine became gripped by unrest when President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union in 2013. An organized political movement known as ‘Euromaidan‘ demanded closer ties with the European Union, and the ousting of Yanukovych. This movement was ultimately successful, culminating in the February 2014 revolution, which removed Yanukovych and his government. However, some people in largely Russophone eastern and southern Ukraine, the traditional bases of support for Yanukovych and his Party of the Regions, did not approve of the revolution, and began to protest in favor of closer ties with Russia. Various demonstrations were held in Crimea in favor of leaving Ukraine and accession to the Russian Federation, leading to the 2014 Crimean crisis and the continued Russian military intervention in Ukraine.

Several times Ukraine has attempted to join NATO membership, and has either been voted down from NATO members or from pro-Russian opposition in Ukraine.

One of the key foreign policy positions on both Republican and Democratic platforms was a stronger and pro-western Ukraine. That is until Donald Trump.

Make no mistake, Donald Trump has taken a very pro-Russian stance on Ukraine.

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