This election season is so much fun because Donald Trump keeps enraging all the right people – and his timing is perfect. Just as the Republican convention was at its height, with his running mate up there on the podium perorating about the alleged threat of Vladimir Putin, along comes Donald with an interview in the New York Times that has the War Party yelling and screaming bloody murder. The head of NATO; the foreign policy pundits; even some alleged “non-interventionists” – they’re all aghast that Trump is questioning the supposedly sacred tripwires that commit us to going to war if Lower Slobbovia invades Upper Slobbovia.
It started with this article, in which Trump’s views on NATO, the Turkey coup, and other matters were summarized, but it caused such a commotion that the Times published the entire interview, and it is really a sight to see – good news for us anti-interventionists, and very bad news for the internationalists, i.e. the entire foreign policy Establishment.
It starts off with Times reporter David Sanger trying to bait him into attacking Paul Ryan, who, he says, “presented a much more traditional Republican, engaged internationalist view of the world.” Sanger reminds him of his previous comments on NATO: that our shiftless “allies” need to start paying their fair share of the costs of the alliance. Sanger adds in Korea and Japan, and ask: what if they won’t pay? What then?
Trump’s answer is vintage Trump: “Then yes, I would be absolutely prepared to tell those countries, ‘Congratulations, you will be defending yourself.’”
He is challenged by Sanger – who asks most of the questions, by the way – who avers that our system of alliances is in our interests as well, because of “trade.”
Does Sanger imagine Russia going to somehow stop trans-Atlantic commerce? It isn’t clear, but Trump comes back at him by saying it’s “a mutual interest” – in which our NATO allies are not doing their part. Stopped in his tracks – because even President Obama, as well as traditional Republicans like Robert Gates, have complained that our allies aren’t paying – Sanger reverts to the default interventionist argument:
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