His speech did not deviate from the themes he has already enunciated and it showed that he is willing to go very far indeed. Nothing like this has been heard from a Republican foreign policy candidate in decades. Trump doesn’t want to modify the party’s foreign policy stands. He’s out to destroy them. In his speech, Trump declared that U.S. foreign policy since the Cold War has been “incoherent” under both Democratic and Republican administrations. He said it’s been a “complete and total disaster. ... No vision. No purpose. No direction. No strategy.”
Trump made it plain in his speech that his implicit No. 1 credential for becoming commander in chief is that “although not in government service, I was totally against the war in Iraq, saying for many years that it would destabilize the Middle East.” This represents an assault against Hillary Clinton as well as the neoconservative establishment in the GOP.
This is why perhaps his most significant statement was: “I will also look for talented experts with new approaches, and practical ideas, rather than surrounding myself with those who have perfect résumés but very little to brag about except responsibility for a long history of failed policies and continued losses at war.” What Trump is talking about is dispensing with an entire wing of the GOP that has controlled the commanding heights of foreign policy over recent decades.
At bottom Trump made it plain that he views America like a business. He’s going to engineer a takeover of the American government, fire the current staff and create a "foreign policy based on American interests." U.S. foreign policy, Trump said, had elevated "the false song of globalism" over American self-interest. “Businesses,” he said, “do not succeed when they lose sight of their core interests and neither do countries.”
But there were no details. Trump was opaque when it served his interests. Like Richard Nixon, he apparently has a secret plan to end the wars in the Middle East. According to Trump, “there’s ISIS. I have a simple message for them. Their days are numbered. I won’t tell them where and I won’t tell them how.” Again, no details — and as a matter of declared policy.What is emerging is a candidate who is not a dreaming ideologue either from the right (romancing the Cold War) or the left (apologizing for wining the Cold War). Given that the last two presidencies have run foreign policy from those two extreme positions -- with the left throwing cruise missiles whenever its manhood gets questioned -- many Americans now look forward to a less active foreign policy.
From Heilbrunn: "As I read him, the Trump that revealed himself today was quite disciplined when contrasted with some of the antics at his rallies. Indeed, I think he is having a salutary effect in forcing open a long-overdue debate in the GOP over foreign policy. Magazines like mine have long urged the GOP to confront its tawdry history in Iraq and to take a second look at the foreign policy approach espoused by the likes of Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush. Trump is a far more blunt instrument, but the appeal of someone who can rip away the moth-eaten drapery that has occluded the GOP from accepting basic realities about American foreign policy seems obvious. He may be the ultimate realist, conducting himself as a ministate — maneuvering for advantage and knocking off his opponents one after the other, much as Bismarck unified the German Reich by launching three successive wars."
This will be an interesting race in the fall. On the one side you will have all that paranoia and conniving that Nixon indulged in politically. And then on the other side you will have Trump resurrecting Nixon's foreign policy.
Nixon versus Nixon's foreign policy.