A Trump Scare

President Trump’s First Term - The New Yorker

Nothing in the campaign has presented Trump with a broader range of new information than the realm of foreign affairs. Asked about the Quds Force, an Iranian paramilitary unit, he has expressed his view of “the Kurds,” an ethnic group. During a debate in December, 2015, a moderator requested his view of the “nuclear triad,” the cornerstone of American nuclear strategy—bombers, land-based missiles, and submarine-launched missiles—and it became clear that Trump had no idea what the term meant. Trump replied, “I think, to me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.”

Trump is not uniformly isolationist; he has affirmative ideas, some of which have produced effects outside his control. When he labelled Obama “the founder of isis,” the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah rejoiced. Its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, who is allied with President Bashar al-Assad, of Syria, against isis, has claimed that the U.S. created extremist groups in order to sow chaos in the Middle East. Now, it seemed, Trump was confirming it. “This is an American Presidential candidate,” Nasrallah said on television. “This was spoken on behalf of the American Republican Party. He has data and documents.”

Other militant organizations, includingisis, featured Trump’s words and image in recruiting materials. A recruitment video released in January by Al Shabaab, the East African militant group allied with Al Qaeda, showed Trump calling for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.; the video warned, “Tomorrow, it will be a land of religious discrimination and concentration camps.”

In July, Trump made his most dramatic foray into foreign policy, declaring that if Baltic members ofnato are attacked he would decide whether to defend them on the basis of whether they had “fulfilled their obligations to us.” I asked the President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, what he made of that. Ilves rejected the suggestion that his country has not done its part for nato. “Estonia has not sat back and waited for allies to take care of its security,” he said. “Indeed, proportionally to our size, we were one of the greatest contributors to the mission in Afghanistan.” Without mentioning Trump’s name, he warned against improvising on matters of foreign policy involving President Vladimir Putin, of Russia: “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine—and the impact that Russian policies and actions toward neighboring countries have had on European security as a whole—marks a paradigm shift, the end of trust in the post-Cold War order.”

Shlapak said that in the spring of 2014, after Russia seized Crimea, “the question surfaced: What could Russia do to nato, if it was inclined to?” To test the proposition, rand organized a series of war games, sponsored by the Pentagon, involving military officers, strategists, and others, to examine what would happen if Russia attacked the three most vulnerable nato nations—the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia.

To his surprise, the simulated Russian forces reached the outskirts of the Estonian and Latvian capitals in as little as thirty-six hours. The larger shock was the depth of destruction. American forces, which would deploy from Germany, Italy, and elsewhere, are not heavily armored. “In twelve hours, more Americans die than in Iraq and Afghanistan, combined, in sixteen years,” Shlapak said. “In twelve hours, the U.S. Air Force loses more airplanes than it’s lost in every engagement since Vietnam, combined.” He went on, “In our base case, the Russians bring about four hundred and fifty tanks to the fight, and nato brings none. So it turns into a fight of steel against flesh.” (Based on the games, randrecommended that nato assign three heavily armored brigades to the Baltic states.)

“We’ve had seventy years of great-power peace, which is the longest period in post-Westphalian history,” Shlapak said. “I think one of the reasons we don’t think about that, or don’t understand the value of that, is that it’s been so long since we’ve been face to face with the prospect of that kind of conflict.”

the surge of hostility from American politicians will weaken Mexico’s commitment to help the United States with counter-terrorism

raids on farms, restaurants, factories, and construction sites would require more than ninety thousand “apprehension personnel”—six times the number of special agents in the F.B.I. Beds for captured men, women, and children would reach 348,831, nearly triple the detention space required for the internment of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War. Thousands of chartered buses (fifty-four seats on average) and planes (which can accommodate a hundred and thirty-five) would carry deportees to the border or to their home countries. The report estimated the total cost at six hundred billion dollars

Gingrich called for re-creating the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was established in 1938 to investigate accusations of subversion and disloyalty. “We’re going to presently have to go take the similar steps here,” he said, on Fox News. “We’re going to ultimately declare a war on Islamic supremacists, and we’re going to say, If you pledge allegiance toisis, you are a traitor and you have lost your citizenship.” The committee is not often praised; before it was abolished, in 1975, it had laid the groundwork for the internment of Japanese-Americans, and led investigations into alleged Communist sympathizers. In 1959, former President Harry S. Truman called it the “most un-American thing in the country today.”

Paul Krugman, the left-leaning Nobel laureate, argued that the supply-side argument was refuted by a basic fact: job growth has been higher under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama than under George W. Bush. 

To deal with China, he says, the United States should act like an aggressive patient at a dentist’s office: “Here’s how the patient deals with the dentist: sits down in the chair, grabs the dentist by the nuts, and says, ‘You don’t hurt me, I won’t hurt you.’ ”

The Economist Intelligence Unit, an economic-and-geopolitical-analysis firm, has ranked the prospect of a Trump victory on its top-ten risks to the global economy. Larry Summers, the Harvard professor and former Treasury Secretary, predicts that, taken together, Trump’s economic and trade policies would help trigger a protracted recession within eighteen months.

Trump’s trade plan could trigger a trade war that would put roughly four million Americans out of work, and cost the economy three million jobs that would have been created in Trump’s absence.

Trump, whose businesses have declared bankruptcy four times, said, “I’ve borrowed knowing that you can pay back with discounts,” and “if the economy crashed you could make a deal.” The notion that he might try to make creditors accept less than full payment on U.S. government debt caused an outcry. 

“If he ever even alludes to renegotiating the debt, we will have a downgrade of U.S. debt, and that event will cause a massive exodus of foreign investors from the U.S. Treasury market.” In 2011, when feuding in Congress delayed raising the debt limit, the stock market fell seventeen per cent. This would be a far larger event

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