Essays on American politics and foreign policy

By Donald E. Nuechterlein

Donald Nuechterlein is a political scientist and writer who resides near Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of numerous books on American politics and foreign policy, including

  • Defiant Superpower: The New American Hegemony, 2005
  • America Recommitted: A Superpower Assesses its Role in a Turbulent World, 2000
  • A Cold War Odyssey, 1997


Donald Nuechterlein


Westminster-Canterbury Forum on Foreign Policy, Moderator: Don Nuechterlein


This presidential election is unique among post-World War II contests:

  1. Trump (70) and Clinton (68) are the oldest candidates to compete, and their health is now an issue.
  2. Both candidates have disapproval ratings of over 50 percent.
  3. The first candidate (Trump) who is ignored by party leaders for his "hostile takeover" of their party.
  4. Neither candidate has served in the Armed Forces.
  5. One of the candidates (Trump) has never held a public office.
  6. First female candidate to be nominated for president.
  7. Few previous elections have found both parties so divided.

What are Trump's stated views on foreign/national security policy?

  1. Greatly expand military forces, estimated cost of $90 billion.
  2. Defeat ISIS in his first months in office, but can't divulge plans.
  3. Deport millions of undocumented residents target lawbreakers.
  4. Close U.S. border to all Muslims.
  5. Build high wall on Mexican border and make Mexico pay.
  6. Cancel trade agreements (NAFTA) and reject new ones (TPP).
  7. Work out deals with Russia's Putin to settle regional problems, but no mention of Ukraine.
  8. Make allies pay more for US protection and military bases, especially Japan, South Korea, and Germany.
  9. Replace most generals and admirals who are now serving Obama.

Clinton's stated views on foreign and national security policy

  1. Maintain Obama's international policies and NATO alliance.
  2. Be cautious about concluding new trade agreements (TPP).
  3. Be tougher with Russia on Ukraine and in Syria.
  4. Continue military aid to Iraqi and Syrian fighters against ISIS, but "no boots on ground" (no combat troops).
  5. Give priority to working with friendly countries to achieve foreign policy objectives.
  6. Support Asian efforts to restrain China's ambitions, and contain North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

Reactions abroad to U.S. election campaign

  1. Most Europeans are astonished that Trump could be president.
  2. When Vladimir Putin says "kind words" about Trump, he says he will reciprocate, and praises Putin for being a "strong leader".
  3. Mexico's president once voiced critical comments on Trump, but now finds he may cancel NAFTA, vital for his economy.
  4. Other governments are cautious on how they would deal with a Trump presidency.

Questions for discussion

  1. What accounts for Donald Trump's continuing strong poll numbers?
  2. How much would foreign policy change in a Trump presidency if mainline Republicans control Congress?
  3. What should the next president do about Syria, and N. Korea?

Concluding Remarks

Many voters face a large dilemma this year in selecting a president because both candidates have high negative approval ratings in opinion polls. Neither inspires confidence among large segments of the electorate. On foreign and national security policy, however, voters have a clear choice: one candidate (Donald Trump) advocates radical change in U.S. foreign and military policy; the other (Hillary Clinton) will continue, with some modification, the internationalist policies followed by Republican and Democratic presidents over the last half century. The outcome on November 8 will be crucial in determining whether America changes course, or continues to be a dependable ally and supporter of international stability.

File last modified on Sunday, 18-SEP-2016 10:42 AM EST

Feedback to Author