The recent presidential campaign saw a plethora of open letters directed at Donald Trump, at least two of which were authored and signed by neoconservative foreign policy “experts” denouncing him for challenging their most cherished notions.
Now it’s my turn to write an open letter, albeit coming from the opposite direction.
Dear President Trump:
Unlike what you might expect from a writer for a web site like Antiwar.com, I’ve given you a pretty fair shake. I have to admit that, at first, I just didn’t get it, but I’m honest enough to admit when I’m wrong. As you began to lay out your platform, I took notice – and, in the face of a lot of skepticism from my readers and even from some of my colleagues, I started to cheer you on. Not that I cheered every pronouncement – but when you started criticizing the conduct of American foreign policy under the Bush administration, and not just the Obama regime, I was quite impressed.
The turning point, for me, was when you got up at that South Carolina GOP presidential debate and said:
“I want to tell you. They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction, there were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction.”
You stood there amidst a storm of booing and said “Go ahead and boo” because you knew you were speaking truth to power – and you knew the American people were listening and nodding in agreement. As for me, I wasn’t just nodding – I was cheering. After all, I spent the entire run up to the war saying precisely that, and for the first time a major political figure – and a Republican at that! — was saying it too. For the GOP frontrunner to defy decorum, take a big risk, and tell the Republican donor class and the Bush-bots the brutal unadorned truth to their faces – that took courage. It took independence of mind. In that moment, you won my respect – and my undying gratitude.
Your willingness to swim against the tide, to question what “everybody knows,” was demonstrated once again when, in response to the widespread allegations that the Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee, you said “We have no idea who did it” – even as the Obama administration joined in the chorus. Because the truth is that we don’t’ know – and the “intelligence” cited by Washington is always politically self-serving.
Now I’m hoping you’ll exercise the same independent judgment in resisting the siren calls in the media to let your worst critics into your administration. Many of those in the GOP national security Establishment who were saying before the election that you are “unfit” to be President are now singing “Kumbaya” and trying to slither into the councils of state. Please reject them! These snakes in the grass will rear up and bite you in the ass at the first opportunity – don’t give them that chance.
Here’s what you said in your foreign policy speech:
“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.”
The neoconservatives who lied us into war and who are the very globalists you’ve been attacking all along have no place in your administration – and I mean by that John Bolton, Stephen Hadley, Zalmay Khalilzad, Kelly Ayotte (who viciously insulted you), Mike Rogers, Frances Townsend (who called you “fundamentally dishonest”), and any number of others trying to crawl in through the cracks. Some of these people openly denounced you: others advocate policies that are the exact opposite of your “America First” less-interventionist approach. None of them should be given the time of day.
The American people didn’t vote for a globalist – they voted for you. Kick these internationalists to the curb, and to heck with “can’t we all just get along”!
During the campaign, you pledged to make NATO members start ponying up their fair share of the costs – and said that this alliance, forged in the midst of the cold war, was “obsolete.” You even said you would consider withdrawing the US from NATO if the other members didn’t shape up. Now the head of NATO is warning you not to do it – yes, that’s what the headlines say, he warning you! Isn’t it time to warn him that he and his fellow deadbeats are mooching ingrates whose time is pretty much up?
Why in the heck are tens of thousands of American troops still protecting these European moochers from a nonexistent threat while our own country is falling to pieces and we’re $20 trillion in debt?
Never mind making these deadbeats pay up – let’s just get the hell out of NATO, which is truly obsolete as you rightly said.
You also told us that rich nations like Japan and South Korea – which are eating our lunch in the realm of international trade – are perfectly capable of defending themselves, and that it’s time they did so. Yet we hear that you’ve already contacted the leaders of these countries and assured them that the gravy train is still running. What’s up with that?
Oh yes, we’re watching your every move very closely. The widespread myth that your supporters will let you get away with anything is – like most memes spread by the mainstream media – totally false. And we care about foreign policy – because, contrary to the myth that voters don’t care about this subject, we realize that it’s very closely aligned with domestic policy. Because when you’re a global empire, the distinction between foreign policy and domestic policy breaks down – as you well understand.
But, hey, I’m not just watch-dogging you – I’m heartened by your apparent decision to stop funding and supporting the Syrian Islamist terrorists Hillary told us are really “moderates.” We have no business trying to bring about “regime change” in Syria, or anywhere else, and the farther we stay away from that hellhole the better.
I’m also very much encouraged by reports that you have no intention of ripping up the Iran deal. That’s exactly what you said during the campaign, but the media – particularly Fox News – wasn’t listening apparently. We don’t need another war in the Middle East: indeed, it’s the last thing we need.
In closing, I just want to thank you for doing what I’ve long wanted someone to do, and that is revive and renew that good old slogan of “America First.” When you made this your campaign theme, the elite media had a conniption: that’s because they’re committed internationalists who understand neither the history of that phrase nor its continued relevance to the situation we face today.
Your election to the presidency is a watershed moment, a sea change that many of us have been hoping for, and working for, lo these many years. And while I didn’t and don’t agree with each and every one of your policy proposals, it’s in the realm of foreign policy that I believe your platform merits support. Now my hope is that you’ll stick to it, in spite of the tremendous opposition you’ll face from the leadership of both parties. And again, I want to urge you – because policy is personnel – to keep the neoconservatives, who are your worst enemies, out of your government.
The success of your administration – and your place in history – depends on it.
An Important Note to My Readers: Yes, we’re starting our Winter Fundraising campaign, and right after this, uh, exciting election. How’s that for a sense of timing?!
Look: do I really have to tell you how important Antiwar.com is at this crucial juncture in American history? Of course I don’t.
The American people just rejected a candidate who was basically threatening World War III with Russia. But the defeat of Hillary Rodham Clinton doesn’t mean our battle is over. Indeed, it has hardly begun.
The neocons are trying to slither back into positions of power – this in spire of their attempted sabotage of the Trump campaign. We can’t let that happen. Antiwar.com is committed to mobilizing our readers and supporters against this imminent betrayal of our hopes and dreams – but we can’t do it without your help.
The War Party has unlimited resources – and we have just you. Yes, you – our readers and supporters, who have sustained us for over twenty years. But you can bet we aren’t taking your support for granted. That’s why we’re working 24/7 to bring you the best, the most up-to-date coverage and the kind of incisive commentary you can find nowhere else.
So please – help us make this fundraising campaign a short one! Make your tax-deductible contribution today.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.