Maybe it is time for me to take a few bows on my own views of President Trump. For those who might not remember, I made the case that a Trump Presidency would be similar to Richard Nixon, a centrist, no label Presidency and guess what, it is happening.
The big battle between Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon is a battle between “New York Democrats” and National Populists. But, this is a battle on how to define the political center. Bannon’s “National Populism” was never about restoring small government conservatism or reducing government. It is to make government work for the middle Class. Kushner’s views reflect a Manhattan moderates view of the world. Like Bannon, he was never about reducing the size of government but to make government more efficient. His goal is a return to the progressive efficiency movement favored by Herbert Hoover almost a century ago. (This is another observation I made). The key battle is whether both vision are compatible.
I remember during the election one reader viewed me as an idiot because I didn’t realize Ted Cruz was a tool of the globalist Wall Street conspiracy. Remember, his wife worked for Goldman Sachs. I wonder what the reader thinks now since Trump has quite a few former Goldman Sachs employees working for him. Many of them are friends of his son-in-law. My observation that a Trump Presidency would be a no-label Presidency that would feature conservative and some liberal ideas.
His promotion of school choice, tax reform, regulatory reform and increased defense spending is an agenda which any conservative would approve. His reluctance to deal with entitlement reform, as well as his proposal for infrastructure spending and protectionist policies warm the heart of any leftist or moderate. Trump is hugging the middle. But the question is how we define that middle. Is it a moderate New York middle or a National Populist middle. Or, can both be combined? (Nixon himself attempted the same synergy with his silent majority combined with moderate Republican views).
Is Trump a neocon? His Syrian Strike leads one to assume he is moving toward becoming a Neo-Con interventionist. However, my own view is that this Syrian strike has less to do with regime change. It is more intended to send a message to Assad, Iran and North Korea. There are no more red lines going unanswered. Trump made a commitment to rid us of ISIS. That means some involvement of ground troops. However, it also doesn’t mean regime change or long term nation building.
My view is Trump is sending a message. We will defend our interests. Further, in my administration, red lines mean something. It also means Trump can negotiate from strength and get the best possible deal with Iran and Russia in the Middle East, and China. The art of making the deal in foreign policy means bargaining from strength. The other side must understand there is a price to be paid if the right deal is not struck.
The present Syrian strike is not a Neo-Con switch. It is nothing more than a reality. Sometimes one has to strike if it is in our national interest. While there is much to debate on whether this was in our national interest, we have a policy to prevent the use of poison gas or other weapons of mass destruction if possible. If Syria had not used poison gas, we would not have bothered with a strike. The message was not just meant for Syria and Assad. It is also for Iran and North Korea.
The other aspect of this strike is that it send a message to our allies, not just in the Middle East but elsewhere. We are not afraid to use force and our threats are no longer empty. Finally, we have a President who knows who our enemies are and who, more importantly, are our friends. This strike is not a movement toward interventionism.