Let's face it. Most likely even Donald Trump himself doesn't know what his foreign policy would be like
The good thing about Donald Trump: He knows what he needs to say to be popular.
American people are like any other in that they – when they're not suffering from temporary bouts of collective madness – prefer to live in peace with the world and mind their own affairs. Trump knows this and he's saying that is what he would do. And it's glorious to see him bash American interventionism from a right-wing populist position and be applauded by Republican masses for it. Who would have thought that in 2016 the Republican frontrunner would be somebody who shredded Bush for Iraq or ridiculed the sainted 'war hero' John McCain?
The bad thing about Donald Trump: He doesn't know anything about anything.
And like most Americans he is particularly clueless on world affairs. And that is a big cause for worry. It means that for every foreign policy issue he is good on there are two more he is atrocious on, and that even when he happens to be right, his analysis isn't particularly piercing or deep. The reality TV star certainly doesn't look like someone who has a fully flashed out opinion on anything, except immigration and trade.
Combine these two fact and you get the contradictions of Donald Trump. He is a person who will walk into the neocon viper's nest that is The Washington Post and lay out an "unabashedly non-interventionist foreign policy" for them – then turn around and load up his foreign policy team with military contractors.
Speaking to WaPo Trump either once again said he isn't too hot on antagonizing Russia for no good reason, or he said that it's America's European allies who should be doing the antagonizing instead:
He questioned the United States’ continued involvement in NATO and, on the subject of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, said America’s allies are "not doing anything."
"Ukraine is a country that affects us far less than it affects other countries in NATO, and yet we’re doing all of the lifting," Trump said. "They’re not doing anything. And I say: 'Why is it that Germany’s not dealing with NATO on Ukraine? Why is it that other countries that are in the vicinity of Ukraine, why aren’t they dealing? Why are we always the one that’s leading, potentially the third world war with Russia.' "
Trump said that U.S. involvement in NATO may need to be significantly diminished in the coming years, breaking with nearly seven decades of consensus in Washington. "We certainly can’t afford to do this anymore," Trump said, adding later, "NATO is costing us a fortune, and yes, we’re protecting Europe with NATO, but we’re spending a lot of money."
And despite demonizing trade with China Trump nonetheless says other things which are likely to go down well in Beijing:
Trump sounded a similar note in discussing the U.S. presence in the Pacific. He questioned the value of massive military investments in Asia and wondered aloud whether the United States still was capable of being an effective peacekeeping force there.
“South Korea is very rich, great industrial country, and yet we’re not reimbursed fairly for what we do," Trump said. "We’re constantly sending our ships, sending our planes, doing our war games — we’re reimbursed a fraction of what this is all costing."
Asked whether the United States benefits from its involvement in the region, Trump replied, "Personally, I don’t think so." He added, "I think we were a very powerful, very wealthy country, and we are a poor country now. We’re a debtor nation."
Oh yeah, but in the realm of actions rather than mere talk Trump has now hired as his advisors "war machine lackeys" who definitely do not subscribe to his critique of empire-building sparking commentary that he's likely just another George W. Bush – saying one thing to get elected but planning another. On the other hand there's Reason which argues his hiring choices are really rather inconclusive.
I'm inclined to agree with Reason for the simple fact I think Donald J. Trump at the moment hasn't got the slightest clue what US foreign policy under his presidency would be like. The man isn't particularly thoughtful, and he's all over the place.
Moreover, specifically on Russia relations he says he is the kind of person who can cut a deal with Putin but at the same time it's hard to see how Trump and Putin could agree on very many things.
Beyond the basic common sense that US shouldn't be growing ISIS or trying its darndest to spark a World War III with Moscow there simply isn't a lot of common ground. Certainly Russia isn't going to have a lot of time for Donald Trump's newly proclaimed "number one priority" – dismantling the "disasterous deal with Iran".