Friday, November 15, 2019

McConnell Takes on Trump, Isolationism, Defends America’s Global Leadership

Without mentioning Donald Trump’s name, Mitch McConnell, in a high-profile guest editorial in the Washington Post, took on President Trump’s foreign policy, labeling it isolationist and specifically claiming his Syrian withdrawal is a “grave strategic mistake.” It will, in his view, make the “American people…less safe…embolden our enemies and weaken important alliances.”
Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Picture: J. Scott Applewhite/AP photo

He cites three policy lessons distilled from decades of U.S. experience dealing with national threats:

  • The danger “is real and can’t be wished away”
  • American leadership is essential
  • We can’t do this alone

McConnell reaches back to the pre-1950s isolationist period to warn that it was America’s global leadership since WWII that created a better world and a safer, more prosperous environment for the U.S. He articulates the Mattis Doctrine: We need others, especially local forces to help us.

It is a searing indictment of Trump’s world view and current tactics. And, while the urge for isolationism is always around, the American people repeatedly say that the U.S. needs to be a global leader and maintain alliances.

Polls on Foreign Policy Internationalism

Chicago Council of Global Affairs, October 2, 2018
Do you think it will be best for the future of the country to take on an active part in world affairs or if we should stay out of world affairs?
     Active part – 70%
     Stay out – 29%

They support forward basing and not abandonment of allies. Do you support for maintaining long-term military bases in:
     South Korea – 74%
     Japan – 65%
     Germany – 60%

Gallup, March 4, 2019
Do you think the NATO alliance should be maintained or is the alliance not necessary anymore?
     Maintain – 77%
     Not necessary – 19%

Pew Research Center, November 24, 2018
Percent who say the following should be a top foreign policy priority. Taking measures to protect U.S. from terrorists?
     Total – 72%
     Democrats – 61%
     Republicans – 84%

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