The Cost of Trump’s Policy Proposals

August 18, 2016

Photo by Matt A.J. (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Photo by Matt A.J. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Donald Trump presented his foreign policy proposals that centered around the defeat of ISIS. His August 15th speech in Ohio combined Cold War tactics and immigration policy. His proposals included redefining what it means to be America’s ally, adding an ideological test on visa applications, and suspending immigration from selected countries.

Under Trump, the traditional meaning of ‘ally’ would change. He stated that any country dedicated to stopping the spread of ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ is an ally. Alliances with the U.S. will be created based on his opinion rather than formulated criteria within our foreign policy apparatus. This policy change could put the U.S. in an uncharted territory at an already turbulent time. We can compromise our values if our definition of ‘ally’ is changed.

The way our current allies view us can affect our alliances. French President François Hollande commented that Trump’s “excesses end up making you feel like you want to retch.” Former Secretary General of NATO Anders Rasmussen stated that his “slogan ‘America First’ is out of touch with what is actually the role of the United States.” Mexican President Enrique Nieto believes that his anti-Mexican rhetoric has harmed U.S.-Mexico affairs. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier labeled him as a “hate preacher” who “make[s] politics with fear.” Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is adamantly opposed to a Trump presidency.

Trump wants to add an ideological test on visa applications and freeze immigration from selected countries. If there is a worry that terrorism is originating from Europe or the Middle East, then terrorists can lie on their applications while regular people are scapegoated and profiled. His approach leaves immigration up to the discretion of whoever is in charge rather than having an institutionalized approach to governance. Our immigration system may slip to authoritarian rule rather than a system of laws.

Trump expressed his intentions to organize an international conference, strengthen our partnerships with other countries and institutions (like partnering with NATO), and create a presidential committee to defeat ISIS. In 2014, President Obama formed a global coalition to defeat ISIS–a coalition that now has 66 countries participating. This coalition has brought our allies closer together and led to an international conference in Paris. At President Obama's Counter-ISIL meeting, Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk reported that, since 2014, coalition members have captured 50 percent of ISIS’s territory in Iraq and over 20 percent of territory in Syria.

In fact, 50 prominent Republican foreign policy and national security experts recently penned a letter denouncing Trump’s bid for presidency and pledging not to vote for him. The letter reads in part:

“He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be President and Commander-in-Chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”

Ultimately, the policies proposed by Trump should be assessed vis-à-vis the cost in human lives and dollars, which would affect our standing in the international community and our American values of pluralism and freedom.



View All


Help us continue our work with a quick
one-time or monthly donation.