President-elect Donald Trump’s foreign policy views break from Republican orthodoxy, so his Secretary of State appointment should too.
Trump has criticized the war in Iraq, opposed the war in Syria, and favored friendly relations with Russia. Trump needs to search beyond neoconservative Republicans to find candidates more in line with his policies.
On Nov. 21, Trump met with Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) whose vision for American foreign policy is more in line with Trump’s than most Republicans. Trump requested the meeting to discuss Syria, ISIS, and the Middle East in general.
“I felt it important to take the opportunity to meet with the President-elect now before the drumbeats of war that neocons have been beating drag us into an escalation of the war to overthrow the Syrian government,” Gabbard said.
She’s right to be concerned. And she’d be a great choice for Secretary of State.
Trump’s other potential picks for Secretary of State oppose his policies toward Russia and Syria and represent the same neoconservative foreign policy approach that has dominated Washington for decades.
Top picks for Secretary of State include former United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney.
Bolton is the biggest threat to Trump’s “America First” foreign policy.
Recently, he has supported regime change in Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
“Either a new state must be created out of the wreckage of Syria and Iraq, or some other durable approach must be found,” Bolton wrote in the New York Post on Nov. 13.
On Nov 17. Bolton said, “The only long-term solution is regime change in Tehran.”
He also expressed concern about Russia in the same New York Post article.
“Russia’s influence in the [Middle East] is higher than at any time since the 1970s,” Bolton wrote.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has fought against the appointment of Bolton and Giuliani, calling their foreign policy too hawkish.
Bolton, he said, “is opposed to everything Donald Trump ran on: that the Iraq war was a mistake, regime change made us less safe in the Middle East, including in Iraq,” Paul said. “I don’t know how a President Trump could appoint someone who’s diametrically opposed to everything Donald Trump ran on. Some of that goes for Giuliani as well.”
Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), although a less interventionist choice than Bolton and Giuliani, has said the U.S. should oppose Russian expansion into Ukraine. Corker also said that Russia has too much unchecked influence in the Middle East.
Mitt Romney, another potential pick for Secretary of State, called Russia the “number one geopolitical foe” in 2012. This is far from Trump, who has advocated a close relationship with Russia.
These potential choices for Secretary of State will lead the U.S. into four more years of foreign entanglement at the expense of American lives and dollars.
Trump’s meeting with Gabbard could be a signal that he feels discontent with establishment neoconservatives.
He should consider Gabbard for Secretary of State. She has military experience and foreign policy views that align with Trump.
Gabbard is a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard. When Gabbard was a member of the Hawaii House of Representatives, she volunteered to serve in Iraq and chose not to run for reelection to continue her military service. Even while serving in Iraq, she was against the war.
Gabbard fights against military involvement in the Middle East. She opposes the war in Syria and fears that further involvement will escalate tensions between Russia and the U.S.
Trump could also consider former Democratic Senator Jim Webb for Secretary of State. He was a first lieutenant in the Marines and served as the U.S. Secretary of the Navy. He supports friendly relations with Russia and a decreased U.S. military presence in the Middle East.
Trump has promised an “America First” foreign policy. Establishment Republicans will not deliver on that promise. Only someone dedicated to peace and non-intervention can put America’s interests first.
Mr. Paladino is a junior studying politics, economics, and journalism.