Haters of President Trump are not known for their capacity for self-criticism. Having waged all-out, nasty battles to defeat him last November, they have decided to blame anyone but themselves for their failure. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton blames Russian hacking and FBI Director James Comey for her electoral loss. The mainstream media, which largely dispensed with any pretense of objectivity in the last election, blames the Trump administration for its hostility toward them.
Other Trump opponents, including right-wing foreign policy professionals who declared Trump unfit for office, are now busy evaluating whether Trump is “normalizing,” or becoming more like them.
Talking heads on television and so-called experts in the Washington policy community concluded long ago that President Trump has no cogent foreign policy and merely changes his mind from one moment to the next.
In recent days, they have pointed to early steps by the Trump administration, on China, Syria and NATO, as proof that Trump is infinitely malleable on policy matters.
While Trump arrived in office with relatively few policy details and is far less ideologically-dogmatic than his predecessors, he did outline on the campaign trail guiding principles for his approach to dealing with the world. For those who were paying attention to what he said rather than sneering at his candidacy, his evolving policy positions are not all that surprising.
Ying Ma spoke about liberty, conservatism and foreign policy at the Road to Freedom Seminar held at the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara, California. Hosted by the Young America’s Foundation, the conference was attended by college students from around the country.
In her talk, Ying Ma discussed the schism within the GOP between the so-called isolationists and internationalists; highlighted conservatism’s emphasis on prudence and skepticism of large government undertakings, including in foreign interventions; and noted that “esoteric, intellectual debates” are very important for articulating a coherent conservative foreign policy.
To view the speech, please click here or use the video player below.
With the Obama administration beating the drums for “limited” strikes against Syria last week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called for decisive military action and chastised his Republican colleagues who might disagree. On MSNBC, he said, “We’re going to have to have a debate about the future of the party…[about] isolationism versus internationalism.”
However much Christie and McCain might wish to claim the mantle of internationalism, their attacks on the so-called isolationists of the Republican Party actually mask fundamental differences among the GOP’s internationalists, and reveal that the party’s foreign policy debate is still mired in the unhappy legacy of President George W. Bush.
Republicans cannot move past that legacy by taking potshots at libertarians and Tea Partyers who question the prevailing GOP wisdom on domestic and foreign policy issues. Instead, the party will have to resolve internal differences and chart a more coherent course for foreign policy. Welcoming the newcomers who articulate and apply conservative principles to the nation’s priorities would be a great start.