The Trump Doctrine: End NATO, Patrol Mosques, Nukes for Japan & Allies

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Anderson Cooper’s interview with Donald Trump on Tuesday evening had the advantage of allowing come-backs and close questioning. At one point Cooper pointed out to Trump that he sometimes behaved like a 5-year-old, as with his attacks on Heidi Cruz. At another, he wondered why Trump did not take responsibility when he retweeted or repeated something an audience member said.

It was painful to have such an intense exposure to the cobwebs in Trump’s flighty mind. But if we tried to analyze his roller-coaster stream of consciousness, what general principles could we find that drives his discourse?

First, he is uninterested in civil rights. He does not even understand what a constitutionally protected right is. He never, ever, brings up rights. His world is an instrumental one. If you have some purpose in mind and achieving it requires riding roughshod over people, then you ride roughshod over people. It doesn’t matter that they putatively have rights. The rights must be set aside.

This abrogation of the Bill of Rights in Trump’s mind is clear in this exchange:

“COOPER: All right, let’s go to the audience. I want you to meet retired Lieutenant Brian Murphy. He as first the officer to report to the Sikh temple massacre in Oak Creek, and was shot 15 times. His fellow officer, who is standing next to him, Sam Lenda…


COOPER: Sam Lenda took out…

TRUMP: Great.

COOPER: His fellow officer standing next to him, Sam Lenda, took out the shooter that day, is also with us. We wanted to just first of all take a moment to thank both of them for their service and their actions.


COOPER: Brian has a question for you tonight. He says he’s – he likes Governor Kasich but he’s still undecided – so Brian.

QUESTION: Good evening, Mr. Trump. I have a question. In light of the Brussels and Paris attacks one of the quickest knee-jerk reactions is a backlash against specific minority religious groups. This, in turn, brings about things that cause damage all over. In Milwaukee, you heard about the Sikh temple shooting. Six people were killed. 99 percent of the men in the United States who wear turbans are actually Sikh and not Muslim. How would you suggest we help educate the public and not alienate these groups and, at the same time, how do we protect the constitutional rights of minority groups like the Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, and Jews, while still addressing radical Islamization?

TRUMP: Well, Brian, thank you for the question. We have a tremendous problem with radical Islam whether we like it or we don’t. We have a president who won’t talk about it.”

Trump went on to complain that Parisians are not all walking around like Wyatt Earp with six-shooters hanging off their hips. Then he alleged that the Muslim community of San Bernardino knew very well that two of their members were stockpiling weapons and bombs for an attack (a lie on Trump’s part). Then he blamed Obama for getting out of Iraq. Then he again called for a Muslim exclusion act. Then he alleged that Syrian refugees were coming into the United States with no paperwork (this is not true– they are vetted for 18 months, there aren’t very many of them, and they haven’t been nearly as much trouble for the country as Trump himself).

Trump never got around to saying how he would guarantee rights for Jews, Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus in an atmosphere that he is creating of ethnic hate and scapegoating toward one minority group, the Muslim-Americans. That is because he cannot conceive of people other than himself having rights. As a narcissist, only he matters to himself. He must get what he wants at all costs.

Anderson pressed him on his agreement with Ted Cruz that law enforcement should be patrolling “Muslim neighborhoods” (that isn’t really a thing).

“COOPER: … In your home city. Chief of Police under Giuliani, as well as now de Blasio, again – out in L.A. He said about Ted Cruz’s proposal, “we do not patrol and secure neighborhoods based on selective enforcement because of race or religion.” Is he wrong?

TRUMP: I think we have to be extremely vigilant in those areas, we have to look very seriously at the Mosques. Lots of things happening in the Mosques, that’s been proven. You look at what’s going on in Paris where Mosques are being closed, OK? And, we have to look very, very seriously.

COOPER: There’s a lot of Muslims in America who hear that, saying we got to look seriously at the Mosques…

TRUMP: … Let me just tell you something, in San Bernadino people know what was going on. These two people – probably became radicalized through her. Who knows? Frankly, right now, it doesn’t matter.

But, these two people want to kill their co-workers, et cetera, et cetera, in their apartment, or their house. In their place where they lived, they had bombs all over the apartment…

COOPER: … Do you trust…

TRUMP: … Excuse me – they had bombs on the floor. Many people saw this. Many, many people. Muslims living with them in the same area. They saw that house, they saw that.

One didn’t want to turn them in. He said I don’t know turn them in because I don’t want to be accused of racial profiling. He saw bombs all over the apartment, OK?

It’s just an excuse…

COOPER: … Do you trust Muslims in America?

TRUMP: … Do I what?

COOPER: Trust Muslims in America?

TRUMP: Many of them I do. Many of them I do, and some, I guess, we don’t. Some, I guess, we don’t. We have a problem, and we can try and be very politically correct and pretend we don’t have a problem, but, Anderson, we have a major, major problem. This is, in a sense, this is a war…

COOPER: … So, special patrols in Muslim neighborhoods…

TRUMP: … You know, nobody wants to call it a war – excuse me. Nobody wants to call it a war. It’s a war. There’s a war.”

So Trump makes up stuff about what Muslim communities know about say two radicals in their midst who were so good at hiding things that law enforcement and the NSA etc. didn’t know about them. And he wants mosques surveilled and neighborhoods patrolled (which is a violation of the fourth and fourteenth amendments to the Constitution) because he said so. Then he created a frame of “war” to justify this abolition of the US Constitution. The US isn’t in fact at war. No war has been declared. It is involved in some police actions against a terrorist group, for which there is a Congressional authorization of the use of force. And the AUMF has nothing whatsoever to do with Americans’ civil rights unless you believe Glenn Beck that the US government wants to drone uppity white people under its cover.

So Trump does not have a concept of civil rights, which he dismisses as “politically correct” (i.e. inconvenient). He can do anything he wants to anybody he wants any time he wants. The law, the Constitution then become irrelevant. He can frame his actions as a “war” and justify them.

This position, that rights don’t even exist, is why Trump is correctly called a fascist. Part of what fascism is, is a subjugation of individuals to reasons of the State at the whim of state officers, with no pretense of law or legality. Fascist states even just stripped millions of citizenship. If you aren’t a citizen then you don’t have rights. You don’t even have a right to have rights. Trump in his own mind has stripped Muslim-Americans of their citizenship. But he could easily do it to other groups in society if they got in his way. In some ways he has already demoted Latino Americans to being second class citizens, alleging that they are disproportionately a criminal element (which is the opposite of the reality).

Aside from the abolition of civil rights, a second plank of the Trump doctrine is that US security interests are supreme and must be achieved at all costs. The main purpose of the state in his view is the provision of what he calls security. Again, this conception of the government is a fascist one.

Some of his calculation of US interests is economic. He maintains, for instance, that NATO is costly and that the US bears the brunt of the costs, and therefore it should be mothballed. Moreover, since he identifies the interest of the state with security and his main conception of security is counter-terrorism, he sniffs at NATO for not being about counter-terrorism.

This position is breathtaking. Donald Trump does not know about the Afghanistan War. He does not know that NATO troops fought and died along US ones for long years in Afghanistan. France, Canada, the others lost men there fighting the Taliban. They were there as part of NATO. Donald Trump does not know this.

NATO contributions are based on the gross domestic product of members. The US pays 22% of th

The US supports NATO economically. But it also spends ten times more annually on its military than the most militaristic of the other NATO countries (Britain) and many times that more than most other European countries. Trump thinks the US spends too little on its military and that the US military is a shadow of its former self.

Part of the reason for abolishing NATO is an insistence on allies’ self-reliance. Thus, he wants Europe to deal with the Ukraine and Crimea crises with Russia. Not the US. That is, in the end, Trump does not have the concept of an ally. It is part of his narcissism. There are no civil rights at home, we have no allies or responsibilities abroad.

Thus, his stated desire for Japan and South Korea to acquire nuclear weapons. Insofar as they are not really US allies (given that in his mind the US never has any responsibilities to other countries and so has no allies), then they should provide their own security. Since North Korea has a nuclear weapon, the only way they can do so is to nuclearize themselves.

Cooper pointed out to him that this is nuclear proliferation on a massive scale, which Trump says he is against. But Trump deflected the criticism on the grounds that it has to be done. The instrumental always takes precedent in Trump’s self-regarding mind over principle. Trump does not think in terms of principles but of interests. He is the ultimate Realist. If an interest requires that something should be done, it should be done. No framework of treaties or constitutional law or first principles or logic must be allowed to get in its way.

And that is the Trump doctrine. And that is American fascism.




12 Responses

  1. This line of thinking is also indicated in his take on Hillary Clinton – at first stating that she is a good, thoughtful Secretary of State and that he likes her and is friends with Bill, etc. He does this because at the time he is thinking of his current businesses and the need for political connections. Later when he needs to court a Republican Right wing that hates her and her husband he discredits her and belittles her. There is no strategic thinking beyond what is needed/wanted in the present, with no thought to what the consequences will be or where the tide of events will take him. He does have a very canny knack for pressing the right wing lizard brain buttons of generalized fear and hatred of the “other” though. Good times, good times.

  2. Shortly after reading this article I went and turned on the news and there was coverage of Trump speaking at a campaign stop. Such ignorance and nonsense. I don’t think that either major party has every put forward a nominee for over 100 years who is just so ignorant of basic facts. I heard him say that the US military is the most unprepared it has ever been and then I couldn’t bear to watch anymore. I doubt he knows anything about the power of modern armed forces. It hurts my brain just to think about what he says. AAAGGGHHH.

  3. .Trump is jerk. Wealthy beyond belief and out of touch with the real world.

    He’s been able to make his way and life the way he wants it. And has the gall to think that his way’s the best way. What a jerk .

  4. There are too many ignorant people who have been disenfranchised and abandoned , poorly educated without a safety net , jobs, affordable housing and health care. Their anger appeals to the fascistic rantings of a Trump and also to the evangelical rantings of Cruz, another dangerous reactionary. The rise of Nazi Germany in the thirties has many similarities. The monster of Trump et al is a creation of a government that has for decades lost its way.


  6. Donald Trump will NOT become our President. The fact the corporate-controlled media has foisted an ego-maniacal •••clown into our faces is merely a distraction. Something to feed the 24/7 news cycle.

    Media-feeding far-right extremists like Trump who promise “change” have no problem spewing the most absurd, uninformed, nonsubstantive campaign promises ever seen and heard in U.S. politics. The fact that campaign “gollywallop” is reported in media at such a high amplitude is irresponsible and unnecessarily confusing.

    For example, amplifying the promise for Republican Convention disruptions including violence has resulted in more that forty thousand 2nd Amendment advocates to sign a petition to allow firearms into the convention in Cleveland, Ohio. A movement completely forbidden by the Secret Service, fortunately.

    Trump spews pure BS and media authenticates his droppings – does not make for a viable candidate in any country.

  7. Our political representatives’ ongoing abrogation of USA sovereignty if worse that anything Trump is saying.
    Leave the clown alone, concentrate in regaining our soul.

  8. Your essay is a fine compendium of Trump’s foolishness, but, with all due respect, you are wrong about this point:

    ” … a second plank of the Trump doctrine is that US security interests are supreme and must be achieved at all costs. The main purpose of the state in his view is the provision of what he calls security. Again, this conception of the government is a fascist one..”

    This is not inherently “fascist” but is in fact the guiding principle of foreign policy –explicit or not— of most governments, regardless of ideology. National security was the principle justification for Bush invading Iraq, just as it was for Roosevelt allying with Stalin during WW II. It has been used by modern statesmen to justify torture, spying, and blockades and sanctions that harm innocent civilians abroad. Many a conservative would tell you that government’s main role should be to provide “security” for the nation and society. Many a Democratic politician has justified our support of coups and authoritarian regimes in the name of “national security.” It is Obama’s justification for supporting the government’s authority to spy on its own citizens. Most governments, regardless of official ideology, will often put morals, civil rights and fairness aside when it comes to “national security.” You may agree or disagree with these policies, but they are not confined to fascists. As a British historian once said, “in the service of their country men will commit crimes that would shame a buccaneer.”

    • What Trump means by security is not the same as ordinary state provision of a relatively safe environment to citizens. It involves massive domestic surveillance and racially and religiously discriminatory population movements of a sort in which Stalin indulged. That some regimes within ordinary states have occasionally resorted to such policies is not the same as saying that they are intrinsic to the state. The US Bill of Rights and the 14th amendment were enacted by state actors to forestall such practices.

    • In the Metro Detroit area, the FBI has been accused of violating the civil rights of Muslims by unfairly targeting them during investigations.

      One of the most controversial cases involved Luqman Abdullah, an imam, who was shot 21 times by the FBI during a raid on a Dearborn warehouse – which has led to calls for investigation and allegations of a government cover-up:

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  9. The only tiny ray of light in the latest Trump spew is that he at least isn’t accepting NATO as unquestionable. The rest of it is horrible, like Hitler pointing out the unfairness of Versailles Treaty didn’t change the fact he was a monster.

    NATO has overstepped its intent. It has allowed the Pentagon to pencil in entire national armies into its own organizational charts for war. The voters of Europe are told that they can’t do things because of NATO. The voters of America keep sending European boys to our messes. This is not an alliance. It is a hegemony. Appending European cannon fodder onto American global power-projection capability is not defending Europe. We need to split those apart so that both Europe and America can concentrate on defending their actual interests. Which in America’s case, must be defined by a genuine democratic debate, not by special interest fearmongers. Otherwise, more Centcoms and Africoms and Antarcticoms must follow.

    More importantly, we progressives must face the fact that America’s political system is increasingly senile and even insane, and there must be a power to offset the American empire that is not ruled by a tyrant. I’m not a pacifist. I want a strong democratic society to stand against our evils and the evils of Russia and China when necessary. There’s no one to perform that function unless the EU is forced into it.

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