Tag Archive | "Donald Trump"

Trump Versus the World

Photo Credit: Skye Gould/Business Insider

Photo Credit: Skye Gould/Business Insider

With the recent change of government in the United States (“U.S.”), there have been considerable reactions on the international level. To begin, many nations have expressed their incredible disdain for the choice of president, ranging from petitions to protests to motions to reduce trade with the U.S. Second, there is discussion of there being improper relationships between the U.S. government and the Russian Federation government, creating suspicion amongst the domestic population. Third, the executive orders resulted in outrage both domestically and internationally. Therefore, if the current US government continues to remain in power, it may result in broken treaties, sanctions, or worse, war.

During the presidential campaign in the U.S., many nation-states, began to discuss the future of their own nation with their political relation to the U.S. if Trump were to win the presidency. In the United Kingdom (“U.K.”), a petition was launched by a freelance journalist, Suzanne Kelly called for the banning of Trump and thus, the petition was taken to parliament for debate.[1] The parliament carried out heated discussions in regard of the whether to ban Trump from ever visiting the U.K. in response to the petition.[2] Many parliament members declared Trumps’ words as hate speech and feared how his ideas would increase tension between different communities[3]. There are some parliament members that are in support of Trump or in support of merely letting the U.S. determine their own fate.[4] After the election, despite the invitation to Trump from Prime Minister May, the Speaker of the House and other parliament members continued voicing their disapproval of the president, leading to the delay of any potential visit by Trump.[5] In the end, the U.K. government will have to determine whether a visit or ban will bring greater consequences to their country.

Other nations, such as Mexico, have taken more drastic responses by protesting the US presidency and the Mexican President himself, refuses to meet with Trump after heated tweets between the two parties.[6] Also, Trump desires to either renegotiate NAFTA or completely remove the U.S. as a party because of his belief that it sends U.S. jobs to Mexico, further infuriating the people of Mexico.[7] Not only does Trump preach that the Mexicans are stealing U.S. jobs, but he promised to build a wall with the Mexican tax dollars.[8] In response, both the Mexican government and the people came out in force against Trump.[9] On February 12, an estimated 20,000 protesters took to the streets in Mexico City to voice their objection to the U.S. president.[10] Organizers of the event stated, “they wanted to send a message that Mexico was united against Trump.”[11] The government appeared to heed their people’s displeasure of the U.S. president and set in motion a bill that would sever the corn trade with the U.S. and instead trade with Brazil and Argentina.[12]  With Mexico being the third largest goods trading partner, continued unflavored actions taken by Trump will only further hurt the U.S. rather than Mexico.[13] Unfortunately, if Trump continues his path of destruction, both the U.K. and Mexico may only be the beginning of allies turning against the U.S..

With the recent resignation/firing of Flynn, the former National Security Advisor to Trump, continued rumors regarding Trump and many other republican members being involved with the Russian government.[14] After Trump was declared the winner of the U.S. presidency, rumors began about the election being rigged with the assistance of Putin and his oligarchy, which eventually were proven valid.[15] The Obama Administration enforced sanctions against Russia for their violation of the U.S. democracy system, but with evidence of Flynn and Trump communicating with the Kremlin both after the election and inauguration, there are concerns for U.S. national security.[16] Continuous investigations have been performed on the Trump presidency and personnel, revealing more and more conveyance with the Kremlin, however Trump continues to deny any involvement or knowledge the actions taken, regardless of the mounting evidence.[17] Congress continues their debate and probing of Trump and his people, however, Trump criticizes them heavily for such actions, declaring those scrutinizing him “un-American”, increasing the mounting tension between the two branches of government.[18] However, with the recent discovery of the Russian spy ship off the eastern coast, both government officials and the public grow weary of Trump and his intentions despite his declaration of having no contact with Russia.[19] Debates are occurring all over the U.S. to determine how to respond to the ship and the high likelihood of Trump’s involvement with Putin and other Russian personnel.[20] Unfortunately, with no middle ground being reached in congress and no clear answer or response tactic from Trump, the ship remains off the coast, constantly reminding the U.S. people of a the national security threat Russia maintains over them.[21] Therefore, unless measures are taken by either the Judicial Branch, Legislative Branch, or the states, U.S. national security may be at great risk for either an invasion or all-out war with the Russian Federation.

Trump established a series of new executive orders shortly after taking office. The most controversial ones’ deal with the deportation of all “illegal” immigrant and the banning of any form of immigration from seven Arab countries. The executive order concerning the deportation of illegal immigrants expanded the power of ICE by providing several new categories of qualification of deportation under the guise of merely removing the “‘bad dudes’” as Trump states.[22] There are strong criticisms that the order’s intention is to remove all illegal immigrants, regardless of whether they have a criminal record or not.[23] In fact, it was calculated the order could result in the “deportation of 11 million illegals.”[24] An action that is generating a variety of responses, from those desperate to find a way to stay in the U.S. to racists coming out of the wood work to voice their hatred to the immigrants.[25] This order has had negative effects internationally, especially in Mexico, but the effects are mainly being felt in the U.S.. Millions of parents of U.S. citizens are facing deportation, ripping them away from their families and lives they have spent years building in the supposedly “land of dreams.”[26] Not only are families being torn apart, there are potential economic consequences of the action with the removal of so many individuals, ranging from loss of workforce and supplementing the economy.[27] Many cities have noted that Trump and the ICE officials are targeting specific neighborhoods and communities, indicating that the order was merely a smoke screen to further Trump’s racist agenda and disregard of the potential aftermath of his actions.[28] Also, cities that have declared sanctuary for the immigrants are now facing denial of federal funds, adding pressure for them to conform to the executive order.[29] If this continues, the U.S. will not only be divided in the context of families, but in terms of the U.S. people in regard for those in support and those against the order.

The second order, signed just days after his inauguration, Trump revoked indefinitely admission of Syrian refugees and other refugees from six other nations.[30] Like the order that came later, this order received mixed reactions across the U.S. and the world. First, many of the current refugees in the U.S. and those attempting to enter are facing potential removal or denial, despite having already made it to the U.S. or been granted refugee status.[31] These individuals are fearful of the prospect to be forced to return to the warzone or being separated from their families.[32] As a result of this ban and the effects it has had on thousands of individuals, the ACLU and other U.S. lawyers have stepped forward to provide legal support and guidance through the process, as well as declare a legal battle with the Trump Administration.[33] Not only have lawyers stepped up to provide assistance for the refuges and other immigrants, judges across the judicial circuits declared the ban unconstitutional and move for the removal of the order.[34] Unfortunately, many polls have revealed that there are a great deal of U.S. citizens support the ban, creating fiction amongst the population.[35] Not only does Trump receive some support domestically, he is encountering encouragement abroad to continue with such bans.[36] With Trump getting continued support to attempt a new form of the ban both domestically and internationally, it is unlikely that Trump will revoke any such ban, in fact, is more likely to execute more.[37] In the end, the orders from Trump will only hurt the U.S., whether it be domestically or internationally.

In conclusion, the current president of the United States is following through on his promises he declared during his presidential campaign. The United States use to be the positive voice and influence in the world under the Obama Administration. President Obama, to the best of his ability, improved both domestic and international relations of the U.S., always exhausting every prospective outcome to seek out the best action for all parties involved. Now, the progress that has been seen in the last 8 years is unraveling within a matter of months. Within days of his inauguration, the path of destruction began, denying people the right to enter or remain in the U.S., enticing the revoking of trade agreements and potentially alliances, and risking national security with Russia. As discussed, if Trump continues to remain in his position, there is no positive outcome for the U.S. or the world. In fact, it is very likely that we will lose almost all our allies and will end up in war with Russia, China, or a combination of nations that no longer wish to follow the U.S. under its’ current leadership. Therefore, hopefully, either the federal legislative or judicial branches or state governments will rise and halt the destruction. If not, the consequences will be even more severe than they are currently.

Kylie Frantz is the Cite & Source Editor for the Denver Journal for International Law & Policy and a visiting 3L at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, originally from Drake University Law School.

[1] Block Donald J Trump from UK Entry, UK Government and Parliament (June 9, 2016), https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/114003; Donald Trump UK State Visit to be Debated in Parliament, CNN.com, Jan. 31, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/31/politics/donald-trump-parliament-state-visit-debate/index.html.

[2] British Lawmakers Debate Banning Donald Trump from the UK for ‘Hate Speech’, CNN.com, Jan. 18, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/18/europe/uk-parliament-debates-trump-ban/

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] UK Speaker ‘Strongly Opposed’ to Trump Speech in House of Parliament, CNN.com, Feb. 6, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/06/politics/uk-speaker-opposes-trump-parliament-speech/.

[6] Mexicans March Against Trump: ‘Bad Hombre for the Whole World’, CNN.com, Feb. 13, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/12/americas/mexico-trump-protest/; Mexican President Cancels Meeting with Trump, CNN.com, Jan. 27, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/25/politics/mexico-president-donald-trump-enrique-pena-nieto-border-wall/.

[7] David Jackson & Donovan Slack, Trump Soft Pedals NAFTA Criticism with Canadian PM, Says Mexico the Issue,

[8] David Agren, Mexicans March to Protest Trump – But Also Their Own Leaders and Politicians, Wash. post.  (Feb. 12, 2017), https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/mexicans-march-to-protest-trump–but-also-their-own-leaders-and-politicians/2017/02/12/6cc9b29a-efcc-11e6-a100-fdaaf400369a_story.html?utm_term=.20f86df74b7a.; Mexico Protestors March Against Trump’s Immigration Policies, BBC.com, Feb. 13, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-38952359; Mexico: We Will Not Pay for Trump Border Wall, BBC.com, Jan. 26, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38753826.  

[9]  David Agren, Mexicans March, Wash. post.  (Feb. 12, 2017); Mexico Protestors March, BBC.com, Feb. 13, 2017.  

[10] Mexicans March Against Trump, CNN.com, Feb. 13, 2017.

[11]  Mexico Protestors March, BBC.com, Feb. 13, 2017.

[12] Patrick Gillespie, Mexico is Ready to hit the U.S. Where it Hurts: Corn, Money.CNN.com, Feb. 13, 2017, http://money.cnn.com/2017/02/13/news/economy/mexico-trump-us-corn/.

[13] Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Office of the President, Mexico/United States Trade Facts, https://ustr.gov/countries-regions/americas/mexico.

[14] Flynn’s Firing Raises Questions that won’t go Away, The Economist (Feb. 16, 2017), http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21717034-what-are-presidents-ties-russia-and-does-he-have-control-over-his; Major Garrett, Trump Blames Media, Intelligence Community for Flynn Firing, Brushes off Russia Concerns, CBSNews.com, Feb. 16, 2017, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-blames-media-intelligence-community-for-flynn-firing-brushes-off-russia-concerns/.

[15] Flynn’s Firing, The Economist (Feb. 16, 2017); CIA: Russia Interfered with U.S. Elections, Snopes.com, Dec. 10, 2016, http://www.snopes.com/2016/12/10/cia-russia-interfered-with-u-s-elections/; Jeremy Diamond, Russian Hacking and the 2016 Election: What you need to know, CNN.com, Dec. 16, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/12/politics/russian-hack-donald-trump-2016-election/.

[16] Flynn’s Firing, The Economist.

[17] Michael S. Schmidt, Mark Mazzetti, & Matt Apuzzo, Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts with Russian Intelligence, N.Y. Times (Feb. 14, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/us/politics/russia-intelligence-communications-trump.html; Erin Kelly, 5 ways Congress is Investigation Russia-Trump ties, USA Today (Feb. 17, 2017), http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/02/17/5-ways-congress-investigating-russia-trump-ties/98001652/.

[18] Steve Holland & Patricia Zengerle, U.S. Lawmakers push for Answers on Trump Team’s Russia ties, Reuters.com, Feb. 16, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-idUSKBN15U1IK.

[19] Christine Hauser, Trump, the Russian Ship, and Suspicious Minds, N.Y. Times (Feb. 16, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/16/us/politics/russian-ship-vessel-usa.html; Ryan Browne and Barbara Starr, Russian Spy Ship Lurks off Connecticut Coast, CNN.com, Feb. 16, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/15/politics/russian-spy-plane-off-connecticut-coast/.

[20] Hauser, Trump, the Russian Ship, N.Y. Times (Feb. 16, 2017).

[21] Id; Browne, Russian Spy Ship, CNN.com, Feb. 16, 2017.

[22] Tal Kopan, Trump’s Executive Orders Dramatically Expand Power of Immigration Officers, CNN.com, Jan. 28, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/28/politics/donald-trump-immigration-detention-deportations-enforcement/;

[23] Id.

[24] Julia Jacobo & Lauren Pearle, Trump’s Order may mark 11 Million Undocumented Immigrants for Deportation: Experts, ABCnews.com, Jan. 26, 2017, http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trumps-order-mark-11-million-undocumented-immigrants-deportation/story?id=45050901.

[25] Id.

[26] Karma Allen, Fearing Deportation, Undocumented Mother of four Takes Refuges in Denver Church, ABCnews.go.com, Feb. 16, 2017, http://abcnews.go.com/US/fearing-deportation-immigrant-mother-takes-refuge-denver-church/story?id=45525882; Astrid Galvan & Jacques Billeaud,  Phoenix Immigrant Mother Deported to Mexico amid Protests, Chi. Tribune (Feb. 9, 2017), http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-phoenix-immigrant-mother-deported-20170209-story.html.

[27] Max Ehrenfreund, The Potentially Severe Consequences of Trump’s Deportation Plans, N.Y. Times (Nov. 14, 2016), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/11/14/what-donald-trumps-deportation-plans-would-do-to-american-businesses/?utm_term=.70c47189722a;

[28] Under Trump Order, Immigration Agents raid ‘Target-rich’ communities in Texas, elsewhere, DallasNews.com, Feb. 11, 2017, http://www.dallasnews.com/news/immigration/2017/02/10/trump-order-immigration-agents-raid-target-rich-communities-texas-elsewhere.

[29] Oliver Laughland, Carrie Wong, & Sabrina Siddiqui, ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Endangered by Trump Order Threatening to cut Federal Funds, The Guardian, (Jan. 25, 2017), https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/25/sanctuary-cities-trump-executive-order-immigration

[30] Dan Merica, Trump Signs Executive Order to keep out ‘Radical Islamic Terrorists’, CNN.com, Jan 30., 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/27/politics/trump-plans-to-sign-executive-action-on-refugees-extreme-vetting/index.html.

[31] Id; Krishnadev Calamur, What Trump’s Executive Order of Immigration Does – and Doesn’t Do, The Atlantic Daily (Jan. 30, 2017), https://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2017/01/trump-immigration-order-muslims/514844/

[32] Jared Malsin, ‘It’s Tearing FaMilies Apart.’ 6 Stories of Lives on hold due to Trump’s visa ban, Time Magazine (Feb. 2, 2017), http://time.com/4649876/donald-trump-visa-ban-executive-order-lives/.

[33] Jonah Engel Bromwich, Lawyers Mobilize at Nation’s Airports After Trump Order, N.Y. Times (Jan. 29, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/29/us/lawyers-trump-muslim-ban-immigration.html; Liam Stack, Donations to ACLU and Other Organizations Surge After Trump’s Order, N.Y. Times (Jan. 30, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/30/us/aclu-fund-raising-trump-travel-ban.html.

[34]  Michael D. Shear, Nickolas Kulish, & Alan Feuer, Judge Blocks Trump Order on Refugees amid Chaos and Outcry Worldwide, N.Y. Times (Jan. 28, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/28/us/refugees-detained-at-us-airports-prompting-legal-challenges-to-trumps-immigration-order.html.

[35] Scott Clement, Americans are more Split on the Trump Travel Ban Than You Might Think, Wash. Post (Feb. 13, 2017), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/02/13/americans-arent-rejecting-trumps-immigration-ban-outright-but-it-has-a-tough-road-ahead/?utm_term=.2784814b18e5; Richard Pérez-Peña, Trump’s Immigration Ban Draws Deep Anger and Muted Praise, N.Y. Times (Jan. 28, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/28/us/trumps-immigration-ban-disapproval-applause.html.

[36] Pérez-Peña, Trump’s Immigration Ban, N.Y. Times (Jan. 28, 2017).

[37] Id; Shear, Judge Blocks Trump Order, Wash. Post (Feb. 13, 2017).

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A Look Back: From the Death of Justice Antonin Scalia to the Nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch

Gorsuch

President Trump shaking hands with Judge Neil Gorsuch, his nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, on January 31, 2017.

While The View From Above generally posts on issues and topics concerning international law, I believe it prudent to address President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee—which will surely have a future impact on international law and the role the United States plays in it. This post briefly analyzes the following in response to the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia: Presidential Appointment Powers; then-President Obama’s nominee, Chief Judge Merrick Garland; and President Trump’s nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch.

An Originalist Perspective on the Presidential Appointment Powers

For better or worse, in the context of constitutional interpretation, Republicans are often affiliated with the theory of Originalism. Justice Scalia, perhaps the most famous Originalist to date, defined originalism in this way:

“The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living but dead, or as I prefer to call it, enduring. It means today not what current society, much less the court, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted.”

Article II, Section II, Clause II of the United States Constitution [1], known as the Appointments Clause, empowers the President of the United States to nominate certain public officals with the “advice and consent” of the Senate. This clause of the Constitution gives the President the power to nominate judges, but it also gives the Senate the affirmative power to provide “advice and consent” and places no limits on how the Senate discharges this power. Nowhere in the Constitution does it state that the Senate must hold a hearing for, let alone consider, a Supreme Court nominee. Keeping this perspective in mind, the Senate may withhold its consent by voting down a nominee, but it may also withhold its consent by refusing to act, or otherwise failing to confirm a nominee. As such, when the Constitution is interpreted from an Originalist perspective, the argument that the Senate has a “Constitutional Duty” to consider a Supreme Court nominee is likely erroneous.

The unusual circumstances resulting from the untimely death of Justice Scalia (where the President nominates an individual to the Supreme Court in an election year and where the Senate is controlled by a party other than that of the President) has occurred twice before in our nation’s history. In each instance, regardless of which party controlled the White House or the Senate, the Senate has held a hearing for the Supreme Court nominee. In 1895, Democratic President Grover Cleveland nominated Rufus Wheeler Peckham to the bench before a Republican-controlled Senate. The Senate held a hearing for Peckham and confirmed his nomination. More recently, in February 1988, a Democratic-controlled Senate confirmed Republican President Ronald Reagan’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Anthony Kennedy. [2] In fact, every Supreme Court nominee since 1875 has received a hearing before the Senate— well, every nominee except one.

As such, I believe that the Senate should promptly consider and vote on every presidential judicial nominee, not necessarily because the Senate has a constitutional obligation to do so, but, rather, because a historical basis exists upon which this claim may rest.

(Then-) President Obama’s Nominee: Chief Judge Merrick Garland

On March 16, 2016, then-President Barrack Obama nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland, of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, for Justice Scalia’s vacated Supreme Court seat. In an unprecedented act of childish discourtesy, the Republican-controlled Senate refused to hold a hearing for, or even consider, President Obama’s nomination of Chief Judge Garland.

As explained above, the Senate might not be obligated to hold a hearing for a Supreme Court nominee, let alone explain its reasons for not doing so. Someone should have told this to Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Senator McConnell stated that the reason for the Senate not holding a hearing was because the American people should have a voice in the filling of Justice Scalia’s vacancy. This argument from silence should not be ignored, and is particularly unpersuasive given the general affiliation between Republicans and Originalism, as outlined above.

President Trump’s Nominee: Judge Neil Gorsuch

On January 31, 2017, President Trump nominated federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch [3] to fill the Supreme Court seat that has sat vacant since the passing of Justice Scalia. Judge Gorsuch is certainly a qualified nominee. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School (where he was a classmate of former-President Obama) and his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Legal Philosophy from University College, Oxford. Additionally, Judge Gorsuch was a law clerk for Justice Kennedy. [4]

While it is likely that the Senate will hold a hearing for Judge Gorsuch, it will be interesting to see whether Democrats attempt to block his confirmation because of the events (or lack thereof) surrounding then-President Obama’s nomination of Chief Judge Garland. While some Democrats want to block Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation because of his willingness to endlessly extend religious freedoms [5] and his desire to reduce the power of regulatory agencies [6], many Democrats want to block the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch based on principle. However, I question whether that would be a wise course of action. Given President Trump’s unpredictability, Democrats might want to allow the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch. No one knows who President Trump’s next nominee might be.

While Judge Gorsuch has been very conservative in his past rulings, he does so by means of a consistent interpretation of the Constitution, (generally) without including his own personal beliefs—the polar opposite of Justice Alito. As such, it will be interesting to see whether, if given the opportunity, Judge Gorsuch aligns more with Justices Alito and Thomas, or Chief Justice Roberts. Additionally, while the Court is currently in a 4-4 (Republican-Democrat or Conservative-Liberal) split, Judge Gorsuch is set to take the place of Justice Scalia, a reliable conservative vote of the Court. With the recent talk of Justice Kennedy’s (the Court’s recent swing vote) potential stepping-down and Justice Ginsburg’s (a reliable liberal vote) advanced age, Democrats might want to hold their revenge for another day.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

[1] 1 “He [The President] shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.” U.S. Const. art. II, § 2, cl. 2 (emphasis added).

[2] Anthony Kennedy was nominated by then-President Reagan in November 1987. Banen, Steve (February 15, 2016). “Justice Kennedy’s confirmation debunks key GOP talking point“. MSNBC. Retrieved February 3, 2017.

[3] Judge Gorsuch has been a federal appellate judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit since August 2006.

[4] It will be interesting to see whether, because of their past relationship, Judge Gorsuch would push Justice Kennedy towards voting more conservatively than he has in the recent years.

[5] See Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius, 723 F.3d 1114 (10th Cir. 2013).

[6] See Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch, 834 F.3d 1142 (10th Cir. 2016).

Joseph Apisdorf is currently a second-year law student at University of Denver Sturm College of Law and managing editor of the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy. He is also a member of the Federalist Society.

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Where do Clinton and Trump stand on U.S. intervention?

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Thursday, July 21, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Thursday, July 21, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

What should be the U.S. role in the world?

In the current election cycle, the debate on this vital question is especially focused on America’s military interventions — interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and hesitation in Syria — which provide some indicators for reflection. As both presidential candidates have spoken on the topic, it is essential to review their positions.

Donald Trump is usually described as a champion of non-intervention and Hillary Clinton the opposite. The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd described the candidates as “Donald the Dove, Hillary the Hawk.”

As a broad generalization, this is perceived as an accurate portrait, but the record is not so clear, especially in Trump’s case. In his March interview with The Washington Post’s editorial board, Trump questioned the need for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United States’ continued involvement in it. This he has reiterated on several occasions.

Trump suggested to The New York Times that he might withhold military assistance to defend the Baltic countries — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — from invasion by Russia, unless the countries under attack have fulfilled their pledge to spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense. This despite the unqualified assurance in the NATO treaty that an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all, and all members will come to the aid of one under attack. Just as Trump has questioned the U.S. commitment to NATO, he has also wondered about the benefits from our involvement in Asia.

Trump fervently opposes nation-building and regime change, and considers all U.S. military alliances as burdens. His prior statements show that he has supported many foreign policy decisions he now lambastes. To illustrate, in the past, he has favored intervention in Syria to create safe zones. He endorsed the ouster of Saddam Hussein and he never opposed the Iraq war until after it had begun. In 2007 and 2008, he often spoke favorably about the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, which he now calls a mistake; the same applies to Afghanistan. He also called Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s removal “a good thing.” Similarly in Libya he supported the overthrow of Moammar Khadafy.

John Noonan, an adviser to Jeb Bush on national security, and dozens of Republican foreign policy experts signed onto a letter describing Trump’s policies “wildly inconsistent and unmoored.”

As to Clinton, Mark Landler wrote in The New York Times Magazine about Clinton’s “appetite for military engagement abroad,” based upon her “foreign policy instincts … grounded in cold realism about human nature.”

She is perceived as a person who believes in displays of force. Her firm support for the intervention in Libya and persistent, albeit unsuccessful, efforts within the Obama administration to provide meaningful support to the rebels in Syria at the outset of the civil war, are well known. She, too, favors safe zones there. Even after the tragic events in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, in which Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens lost his life, she stoutly defends the Libyan intervention as justified. Now that the U.S. is using airstrikes in support of the U.N.-backed central unity government in Libya, she endorses this action, as well.

No matter who is the next president, the U.S. cannot disengage from the world. Granted, there are limits to U.S. power to spread

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Thursday, July 21, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Thursday, July 21, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

and freedom — and it is widely acknowledged that America is already spread too thin to be effective in many places. But there is no denying the fact that America must play an important role in the world and it is critical that it use military power not only in the defense of national interests, but also in concert with others when atrocity crimes — such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing — occur.

America must firmly support the evolving international law doctrine of every state’s responsibility to protect human lives from these crimes, no matter where they are committed.

Ved Nanda (vnanda@law.du.edu) is Thompson G. Marsh professor of international law and director of the Ved Nanda Center for International and Comparative Law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

To send a letter to the editor about this article, submit online or check out our guidelines for how to submit by e-mail or mail.

This article was originally posted by Ved Nanda as a Denver Post OpEd which can be found here.

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