ONLY Donald Trump Raises Five “Fundamental and Urgent” Foreign Policy Questions

Stephen F. Cohen Bemoans MSM’s Dismissal of Trump’s Queries

By John V. Walsh.

“Only Donald Trump (among the Presidential candidates) has said anything meaningful and critical of US foreign policy.“  (And that includes Bernie Sanders.)  No, that is not Reince Priebus, chair of the RNC, speaking.  It is Stephen F. Cohen, Emeritus Professor of Russian History at Princeton and NYU, a contributing editor for The Nation, that most liberal of political journals.

Cohen tells us here that:

Trump’s questions are fundamental and urgent, but instead of engaging them, his opponents (including President Obama) and the media dismiss the issues he raises about foreign policy as ignorant and dangerous. Some even charge that his statements are like “Christmas in the Kremlin” and that he is “the Kremlin’s Candidate”—thereby, further shutting off the debate we so urgently need.

Cohen first enunciated Trump’s five questions during one of his weekly discussions on relations between Russia and the West on The John Batchelor Show, on WABC-AM  (also on podcasts).  On the April 6, 2016 broadcast, Cohen says:

Let me just rattle off the five questions he (Trump) has asked.

(First) why must the United States lead the world everywhere on the globe and play the role of the world’s policeman, now for example, he says, in Ukraine?  It’s a question. It’s worth a discussion.

Secondly, he said, NATO was founded 67 years ago to deter the Soviet Union.  The Soviet Union ended 25 years ago.  What is NATO’s mission?  Is it obsolete?  Is it fighting terrorism?   No, to the last question, it’s not.  Should we discuss NATO’s mission?

Thirdly, he asks, why does the United States always pursue regime changes?  Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, and now it wants a regime change in Syria, Damascus.   When the result is, to use Donald Trump’s favorite word, the result is always “disaster.” But it’s a reasonable question.

Fourthly, why do we treat Russia and Putin as an enemy when he should be a partner?

Fifth Trump asks, about nuclear weapons – and this is interesting.  You remember he was asked, would he rule out using nuclear weapons – an existential question.  He thought for a while and then he said, “No, I take nothing off the table.”  And everybody said he wants to use nuclear weapons!  In fact, it is the official American nuclear doctrine policy that we do not take first use off the table. We do not have a no first use of nuclear weapons doctrine.  So all Trump did was state in his own way what has been official American nuclear policy for, I guess, 40 or 50 years.

…It seems to me that these five questions, which are not being discussed by the other presidential candidates, are essential. ….

Batchelor then turns the discussion to the question of NATO.  Cohen replies:

When we say NATO, what are we talking about?  We are not talking only about the weapons and soldiers on land and sea.  We’re talking about a vast political bureaucracy with hundreds of thousands of employees and appointees, that is located in Brussels.  It’s a political empire.  It’s an institution.  It’s almost on a par with our Department of Defense, though it gets its money from the Department of Defense, mainly, as Trump points out, so therefore it doesn’t have quite the swat (sic).  But it has many propaganda organs.  If you look at the bylines of people who write op-ed pieces in many American papers, they are listed as working for the public relations department of NATO or they formerly did so.  No, I would say along with the Kremlin and Washington, NATO is probably the third largest propagator of information, in this information war, in the world.

But look, here’s the reality.  And Trump came to this late.  When they were discussing expanding NATO in the 1990s in the Clinton administration, it was George Kennan who was then the most venerable American diplomat scholar on relations with Russia who said: Don’t do it; it will be a disaster; it will lead to a new Cold War.

Since George spoke his words – and I knew him well when I taught at Princeton where he lived – we have taken in virtually all of the countries between Berlin and Russia.  NATO now has 28 membership states.  But if you sit in the Kremlin and you see NATO coming at you over 20 years, country by country like PAC-man, gobbling up countries that used to be your allies, who appears to be the aggressor?

So – the expansion of NATO has been a catastrophe.  And that has been, in some ways, apart from fighting the war in Afghanistan – from which I believe it has now withdrawn, it is now solely American (I may be wrong about that) – and in addition taking on the American project of missile defense, expanding toward Russia has been NATO’s only mission since the end of the Soviet Union.

So people can ask themselves, if they ask calmly and apart from the information war,..,do we have less security risks, less conflict, today after this expansion to Russia’s borders, bearing in mind that the Ukrainian crisis is a direct result of trying to bring Ukraine into NATO as was the Georgian war, the proxy war with Russia in 2008.  Are we, as Reagan would say, are we better off today? We are not! So easily at a minimum, we have to rethink what it is NATO is doing.

So get thee to the website for the American Committee on East West Accord and listen to the weekly Batchelor-Cohen podcasts.  They are an ideal antidote to the avalanche of Russia bashing and Putin demonizing that we must endure.  While you are at it, check out the other leading members of ACEWA, a superb and badly needed organization – and make a contribution.

John V. Walsh is a frequent contributor to CounterPunch.com, Antiwar.com, LewRockwell.com and DissidentVoice.org. He is a founding member of “Come Home America.” Until recently he was Professor of Physiology and Neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  He can be reached at john.endwar@gmail.com.

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  • Brabantian

    Trump says a lot of things – some of them smart & full of truth, as with some of the remarks cited above – & some things horrid & stupid & offensive, such as Trump’s advocacy of torturing people

    But if you look at Trump’s advisors, not to mention Trump’s sordid history in business & with violators of children … one has to discount Trump’s ‘truth’ remarks as worthless … parallel to nice-sounding phrases & promises from other frauds such as Barack Obama

    • Brabantian

      Why the next US President may be either US Senator Elizabeth Warren, or a general

      (1) It seems increasingly likely Hillary Clinton will not be nominated – the oligarchy’s mainstream media has begun to rubbish her, & the USA ‘FBI’ is ready to file a criminal charge against her when ordered to do so, removing her from the game

      (2) Two strange things in the oligarchy’s promotion of Donald Trump

      – (a) They are ‘burning’ their major alternative media assets, Alex Jones, Jeff Rense, Wayne Madsen … all risking major loss of audience by over-selling Trump & ignoring the visible fraud that he is … & leaving their readers shell-shocked

      – (b) They let Trump peak very early, leaving time for people to see what a fraud he is, already well underway if one views ZeroHedge etc comment sections … Mis-direction favouring Trump would have been more sustainable, if there was a lengthy battle between Trump & Ted Cruz etc

      (3) Reminding that US Presidents are not selected, in the end, by popular voting –

      US Presidents are chosen by a ‘college of electors’ who (usually) reflect popular voting, & if the electors can’t agree, by US Congress Representatives … with the US Supreme Court judges sometimes stepping in (as in 2000 to choose Bush)

      (4) It is quite reasonable that neither Clinton nor Trump will be sworn in as US President in January 2017

      To replace Hillary as nominee, 74-year-old US Vice President Joe Biden is un-inspiring & would signal favour to Trump

      (a) But an extremely clever choice to replace Hillary, would be US Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who speaks like a more motherly Bernie Sanders (‘anti-Wall-Street’) tho she is one of the richest people in the US Senate … Warren is the ultra-sophisticated person to truly dupe the US people & the world … Trump’s image would crumble facing Warren

      (b) Another US President likelihood is based on upcoming extreme events, after global banking-financial collapse (which may not be avoidable), with possible engineered regional war or major new ‘terrorist’ attacks to accompany

      US Air Force chief, General David Goldfein, or US Marines General ‘Mad Dog’ James Mattis, are both ‘man on a horse’ candidates who would possibly be ‘called to save America’ in the moment of crisis

      • Nexusfast123

        Have your crisis and leave the world out of it as we don’t care. I will stock up on popcorn in anticipation.

  • richardfg7

    Trump is somebody with actual accomplishments . Movies have been made about Hilary Clinton’s misdeeds. And not just one (movie). With her we will have four years of insider deals , pay-offs , pardons … It will be one political favor in exchange for a “Clinton foundation donation” after another . To not see this you must be an idiot . Nothing at all good will happen for the country with her in office . We will spend four years with her under investigation for incident after incident . Trump gives us a fighting chance to save our country. And yes it is that serious .

  • Just Watching

    He’s right, you know!

  • iseeit

    I appreciate the article and agree with the author. I also believe that trump would be less a disaster than clinton.
    Hillary is assured to continue along the lines of bush/clinton/bush/obama/and now the only hope to jump off this death march is likely to be trump.
    Definitely could be a trap….However I believe one worth springing.

  • Tyrannocankles

    Great post!!!

  • Brockland A.T.

    Interesting article. To expand on the United States’ first use position, they also appear to pledge not to use nukes on non-nuclear states in good standing with the non-proliferation treaty.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_first_use

    Which sort of explains why the U.S./Israel is so eager to tar Iran’s good standing within the NPT.

    Its kind of surprising that anyone notices The Donald raises real issues, though.

  • Dec 18, 2015 Donald Trump Is The Establishment Candidate

    While his rise in the polls is attributed to his challenging the establishment and the political status quo, let’s look at the many ways Donald Trump, when it comes to his political positions, represents that very same status quo. From the Fed, to war, to civil liberties, the “anti-establishment”? Trump takes no positions not already endorsed by the establishment.

    https://youtu.be/vt2NPP1z-y8

  • Mar 23, 2016 Who is Advising Trump on Foreign Policy?

    During his tenure, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger oversaw several bloody coups and wars while earning the reputation of a war criminal.

    https://youtu.be/3NBg8WpyC4U

  • Mar 23, 2016 Who is Advising Trump on Foreign Policy?

    During his tenure, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger oversaw several bloody coups and wars while earning the reputation of a war criminal. Republican presumptive presidential candidate Donald Trump met with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger Wednesday, the GOP’s preeminent elder statesman and a controversial figure who orchestrated bloody coups and wars.

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article44696.htm