Trump:  A Frightening Foreign Policy Novice

The ascendency of Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican Party’s candidate for US President this year is scary for a lot of reasons, but none more so than the novice he is in the foreign policy sector and the “jokers” that he claims form his foreign policy team.

While he says that, primarily, he listens to himself (after all he is, by his own admission, a genius and needs little outside assistance to make decisions on any topic of substance) he has been pressed to name those to whom he turns for advice and the names he has come up with are, at best, people with little knowledge and at worst, individuals who may know even less than The Donald.  Some examples will prove my point.

Earlier this year after an interview where Trump mixed up the Kurds with Iran’s Al Quds Force he announced the addition of former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and 2012 presidential candidate Herman Cain to his foreign policy team.  Taking questions from the press after Trump made the announcement, Cain was asked about the Kurds.  He answered “The Kurds?  Hmm, well the Kurds are …nope, that’s something else.  Well at Godfather’s Pizza one the chees got the curds in it, it was no good and we can’t put it on the pizza.” Brilliant eh?

Asked how Trump’s administration would handle the threat of ISIS, Cain responded:  “Well of course I know all about ISIS. When the customers’ beverage is cold, I ask the waiter to put ices in it.  But if the ices melt the beverage gets water, so that’s the threat of ices.”  No further comments on his insights are required.  Trump indicated he intended to appoint Cain Secretary of Defense in the new administration.

More recently Trump announced that Joseph Schmitz, a former Defense Department inspector general is one of his top global advisors.  Schmitz, who resigned from the Pentagon in 2005 due to a slew of corruption allegations, was described as “a nut” by one anonymous expert at a conservative think tank.  General opinion is that Schmitz was widely held in contempt when he was at the Department of Defense.  Seems as if Schmitz has an obsession, as well, with Baron von Steuben, a Prussian noble and founder of the modern office of inspector general to the point where he had all the inspector general seals at the Department of Defense replaced with the Steuben family motto.  And, of course, he comes from an interesting lineage, given that Schmitz’s father was a member of the John Birch Society.

Then there is Walid Phares, who at least has scholarship in his background but had alleged ties to a Lebanese Christian militia accused of killing hundreds of Palestinian refugees in 1982.  While often appearing on television as an authority on the Middle East, he does not seem to have a reputation in that arena that has earned anyone’s respect.

Another advisor, retired Army general Keith Kellogg, although boasting a distinguished military career, there is little to indicate that Kellogg has any experience in analyzing strategic threats.  For the last ten years he has been in the private sector associated with defense contractors but nothing more.

Two other recently noted advisors, George Papadopoulos and Carter Page seem to have no background in foreign relations at all.  Papadopoulos, now an energy lawyer at a London law firm, seems to have only one claim to international activity, the fact that he participated in a Model U.N. conference when he was in college (he notes that on his LinkedIn page)….not something that would qualify one for the post of foreign policy advisor to the president.

Page, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, worked for Russia’s Gazprom and writes on the Global Policy blog.  In some of those essays he blames the U.S. government for fomenting the Ukrainian revolution, blames Russia’s stagnating economy on western expansionism, and accuses NATO of instigating tensions in the Ukraine.  His NATO bashing and love of Russia is probably what attracted Trump to him in the first place.

So while there are plenty of other aspects of Trump’s personality that make his fitness to be president questionable (i.e. his: lack of moral values, racism, nationalism and misogyny, to name a few) his choice of foreign policy advisors by itself should be enough to make thinking voters seek alternatives.  Let’s hope the America voter can save America from itself.

About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 33 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, Ontario and Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Chairperson of the Israel Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.