It is very difficult for me to objectively and unemotionally write about Trump’s impact on US national security. He is clearly one of the most troubling threats to American security that I have encountered in my lifetime.
Trump is also the legitimately elected President of the US under the rules of our Constitution. He still has the support of millions of Americans… perhaps as much as 39% of the entire population. His support seems to be a combination of widespread American disenchantment with political elites and a sense by huge chunks of the population that the political and economic system was rigged against them. In the 2016 election only two candidates (Trump and Sanders) were deemed authentic. Some of this voter anger belongs to incredible failures in the leadership of both political parties.
Trump has some general appeal to voters that are compelling to many. A strong military. Less involvement in endless wars. Control of US borders. A strong pushback to China’s exploitation of international trade. A belief that more manufacturing jobs should be retained in the US and not outsourced overseas. He was also a strong nationalist and populist with an authoritarian reassurance that “only I can fix these problems.”
The real challenges with Trump are a near total lack of character, lawless behavior, ignorance, and an inability to listen to experts and value their contributions. A fundamental danger is that Trump is a threat to our Constitutional way of governance.
Many also argue he is a racist. I disagree. He simply has no sense of empathy for others, or for injustice.
My main focus is a concern that he is a national security threat. He has already partially destroyed the international alliances that we have carefully built in a bipartisan effort in the decades since WWII. NATO is unhinged and he has embraced Putin as a personal partner. Trump has been contemptuous of our traditional allies the Japanese, South Koreans, and Australians.
He has undermined the bedrock of our security with our two North American partners Canada and Mexico by his hostile actions and childish public contempt for their leaders.
Trump has managed to create chaos in our relationship with China with his threats and impulsive economic tariffs.
Finally, Trump has undermined the internal good order and discipline of the US Armed Forces. He has called for the torture of enemy combatants which invites the contempt of the great democracies. He has intervened in the internal justice system of the Armed Forces and fired public servants who opposed him. He has called for the irresponsible use of active combat forces in domestic law enforcement. He has opposed commanders taking sensible health measures to protect their troops during the COVID epidemic in an attempt to downplay the danger of the threat. He is trying to politicize “his Generals and troops” …. the most trusted institution in the US.
The security of America depends not only on our enormous economic power but also on the US reputation and values as a respected and trusted leader in the international community. We are now seen as an unreliable and selfish nation throughout most of the civilized world. Trump is a figure of ridicule in the global audience except for a handful of dictators like Kim Jong-Un, Duterte, Putin, Erdogan, Bolsonaro, and others.
The United States is in great danger because of the leadership failures of our President. We are in trouble.