Donald Trump delivered what one analyst calls a "surprisingly serious" speech on foreign policy and counterterrorism Monday—but serious may not equal coherent. Many analysts were taken aback by the mix of proposals in the speech, which included policies favored by the Obama and George W. Bush administrations, along with ideas dating back to the Cold War and some touches that were pure Trump. A roundup of reactions:
- Some elements of Trump's speech on the war on "radical Islamic terrorism" were familiar, but what was new was "alarming," according to the Los Angeles Times editorial board. His calls for a Cold War-style "ideological screening test" and a Commission on Radical Islam could be "catastrophically counterproductive," they write—and "would punish thoughts rather than deeds," as well as encourage newcomers to the US to conceal their beliefs.
- Former Bush administration official Peter Feaver tells the New York Times that he gives Trump credit for the "surprisingly serious" speech, but a striking amount of it "depends on counterterrorism ideas developed by the Bush administration." The "good parts are not new," and "the new parts are not good," he says.
- Robert Burns at the AP believes there was a lot more Obama than Bush in Trump's disdain for nation-building. Obama ditched Bush's large-scale projects in Iraq and Afghanistan while "trying to keep enough US influence there to prevent those two countries from crumbling," he writes, noting that Trump's argument that the US should have seized Iraq's oil isn't nation-building, it's "nation-grabbing."
- John Noonan, Jeb Bush's former national security adviser, tells NBC News that Trump is completely correct about Obama's contribution to the rise of ISIS, and not much else. "The rest of his foreign policy is an absolutely blathering jumble of nonsense," he says. "I can't in good conscience sign my name to it."
- At Politico, Nahal Toosi looks at the "extreme vetting" proposal that has replaced Trump's ban on Muslim immigration and finds numerous problems. She notes that focusing on regions with a "history of exporting terrorism" would include much of Europe, even if only Islamist-inspired terrorism is included.
- Trump seemed bored by much of his own speech and only seemed excited when congratulating himself on his prescience or accusing Hillary Clinton of "wanting to be 'America's Angela Merkel,'" per the Lexington column at the Economist. The article notes that real Cold War veterans will find this election very strange. "The party of Eisenhower and Reagan has nominated a man who calls looting of foreign assets the highest priority for America in war, and who sucks up to Russia," it says.
- Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post is equally scathing in his fact-checking of the speech. Kessler debunks claims, including the notion of an Obama "apology tour" in 2009, and notes that Trump was not an outspoken opponent of the Iraq War until well after it began—and that he has apparently forgotten that he "was a fervent advocate of intervening in Libya."
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