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What will US foreign policy be in 2017?

In the realm of too silly to believe, Donald J. Trump could be this nation’s next president. Although polls lead one to believe that a victory by Hillary Clinton over Trump is a foregone conclusion, we won’t be certain of the outcome until, at the very earliest, near midnight on Nov.8.

In the meantime, Trump has now said enough about his foreign policy ideas to let us know that should he become president it is most likely that there will be a rather dramatic break by him from years of Republican Party orthodoxy where internationalism ruled. He has told us he believes that too much has been asked of the United States and that it is now time for other nations to shoulder a much larger share of the financial and other burdens dealing with threateningly dangerous terrorists and aggressive nations such as China and Russia.

Trump is not at all happy that we spend billions upon billions of U.S. dollars in support of other nations. Why are we, Trump pontificates, not fully reimbursed for the costs of keeping these people safe and well when they’ve become rich and prosperous at our expense?  Further, Trump does not see value in having bases in the many places we have them and projecting power around the world as all this money spent overseas brings little or nothing for us in return.

Spending our human and material resources elsewhere rather than at home, says Trump, has caused the U.S. to fall from a powerful, wealthy country to a poor one, a weakened debtor nation.  We now lose much more often than win at everything we do and have become a nation of suckers where we look after other nations that are wealthy enough to take care of themselves, resulting here in our suffering from economic decline, lacking of good jobs, a rising national debt, and a falling apart infrastructure.

He views NATO as a good concept but has lost its value through the years and has simply become a financial drain on the U.S. that we can no longer afford. Then, too, he asks, why can’t these nations—that have become rich while we protected them—pay their own way now?

Trump prefers to draw back. His views come from our experience in Afghanistan and Iraq which Trump considers foreign policy blunders.  Then, too, he sees these involvements overseas as damaging to international trade, causing loss of financial standing and prestige to the U.S.

He’s not prepared to trigger a third world war with Russia in Ukraine or China in the South China Sea.  Further, he does not want to send hundreds, much less thousands, of U.S. troops to fight ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) even if generals at the Pentagon want to see it happen. Meanwhile, he would exert a lot of pressure on other countries that are in the ISIS neighborhood to use their troops while we continue providing air support to rid the Middle East of threats by the Islamic State to take it over. How far will he go to defeat ISIS?

What can we expect from Trump on foreign policy matters? His style has been to surprise us but has provided some strong clues as to where he stands and it seems evident to conclude that he does not want more warring overseas while believing that his talents as a successful negotiator in business deals will help him succeed in foreign affairs. He leaves no one to doubt that he’s very smart, possessing the ability to make good deals that will benefit every American.

Under a President Trump the U.S. would mainly go it alone, building a wall on our southern border with Mexico and ending or adjusting our international trade agreements and treaties. These matters that Trump promises to bring into existence sound real good to those Americans who want to realize improvements they believe are now denied them.  How all this would work itself work out under a Trump presidency is unknown, but apparently it does add up to isolationism and economic nationalism here. What could happen is that what many wish for is what we get; but, it’s no dream come true with nations like China, a global juggernaut already exceeding U.S. overseas in trade and, often, influence, too, creating the middle class we want back.

(Gene H. McIntyre’s column appears weekly in the Keizertimes.)