Trump on defence part 1/3

with Nathan Gain



Donald Trump (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Donald Trump (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Exit the shock of the first few hours, the time has now come to be pragmatic. Yesterday Donald Trump was elected as the future president of the United States at the end of a vitriolic campaign during which he gave little away as to his programme. As Germany’s defence minister  Ursula von der Leyen said in a television interview on 9 November: “The first challenge will be to guess what his plans are.” Even during his 30-minute speech on 7 September at the Union League of Philadelphia, the future US president was evasive, imprecise, even contradictory, over his defence programme. We will see if, after his two month apprenticeship with Barack Obama, his plans seem clearer once installed in the White House. 

We listened attentively to this 7 September speech during which he managed the sleight of hand of linking the “defence” theme to the “employment” one. Below you will find our analysis, a little long we grant you, so we have split it up into three parts. We’re publishing the first today, the second tomorrow and the third on Monday.


Peace through strength.” Trump began by insisting that these three words should be at the centre of “our” foreign policy. He explained to his audience that “our new foreign policy will be focussed on advancing America’s core national interests” whilst “promoting regional stability”. Not fearing platitudes and looking earnest, he said “we want to achieve a stable, peaceful world with less conflict and more common ground.” He then slipped up a bit, saying that the United States would be “producing and easing the tensions within our very troubled world.” Producing the tensions first?

He wants to “make new friends, rebuild old alliances and bring new allies into the fold,” working with “any country that shares our goal of destroing ISIS and defeating radical, islamic terrorism” by forming “new friendships and partnerships based on this mission and this mission alone. Which made us think that his Russian friend, and future counterpart, Vladimir Putin, would soon be hearing from him. Except that later in his speech he pointed a finger at Russia which “has defied this administration at every single turn.” He will have to clarify his attitude towards Moscow in the upcoming weeks. 

His attitude towards the Middle East seems clearer, in continuation of the opposition he manifested from March 2003 against the US military intervention in Iraq. Trump stressed that “our actions in the Middle East will be tempered by realism,” explaining that “gradual reform, not sudden and radical change, should be our guiding objective in that region.” He blamed the Obama administration for “toppling regimes with no plan for the day after” leaving “power vacuums” that were quickly “filled by terrorists. 


[Part 2 will be published tomorrow]