(Oct. 21) President Trump’s campaign is complaining that the last debate will cover a wide array of topics, rather than focusing on foreign policy as originally expected. Instead of complaining, Trump should be breathing sighs of relief.

Granted, Trump does have a few significant accomplishments in foreign affairs, almost all related to Israel. Primarily, his team stopped former President Obama’s habit of getting in the way of an ongoing rapprochement among Israel and some of its Arab neighbors, resulting in new, formal agreements between the Jewish homeland and, respectively, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. He also merits credit for the killing of Iranian terrorist chief Qasem Soleimani, and his team successfully concluded a territorial eviction of ISIS that had been nearly complete in the final days of the Obama administration.

After that, Trump’s cupboard in some places is bare, and in other places features a growing rot.

Trump’s pullout from Syria was ill-advised, precipitous, and ham-handed, and it played right into Russia’s hands. His vows to evict corrupt crypto-communist Nicolas Maduro from Venezuela’s presidency have left an omelet on Trump’s face. Trump has dithered in Afghanistan, strengthening the Taliban in the process. He embarrassed the United States by saying he and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un had “fallen in love,” only to accomplish not a single significant restriction on Kim’s aims.

Again and again, Trump has paid homage to authoritarians while insulting allies, with special attention to polishing Vladimir Putin’s boots at every opportunity. Trump has been a disaster for the cause of human rights, refusing to recognize the key role that rhetoric has in protecting rights worldwide and, worse, refusing to understand that defense of human rights has practical benefits for U.S. interests. And when the Saudi regime viciously murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Trump actually gave verbal cover to the Saudis….

[The full column is here.]


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