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Three Takes On ‘America First’

Policy wonks from across the political spectrum openly assess Trump’s isolationist rhetoric

Michael O’Hanlon

Senior Fellow Specializing in Defense and Foreign Policy, Brookings Institution

“His Russia policy is where I’m a little nervous. Obama’s approach to Putin has been smart. The next president has got to think hard: Do you let the bully have his room to play? It’s possible a President Trump would embark on a big military-building effort in the Western Pacific, generally throwing a few elbows, but I think he’ll take the quiet but firm approach; if he gets aggressive, it’s going to be on the economy and cyber-security.”


Jamie Kirchick

Fellow, Foreign Policy Initiative; Term Member, Council on Foreign Relations

“Our president has shown ignorance about how international trade works, threatening to impose tariffs with China. A lot of his voters shop at WalMart, and they buy cheap goods; when Trump says he wants Apple to make their iPhones in America, then Americans will probably have to pay something like $8,000 for an iPhone. I’m most concerned about potential nuclear conflict. Like Marco Rubio said, Trump is an erratic individual who cannot be trusted with the nuclear codes. If you’re asking practically, ‘How do I prepare for the Trump presidency?’ I think it’s better to invest in a bomb shelter than a gun.”

Gene Healy

Vice President, Cato Institute

“In many ways, Obama has gone further than ‘the decider’ George W. Bush in terms of expanding executive privilege. Before, presidential wars were often brief departures from a backdrop of peace. Presidential war-making is more or less constant now, taking place in secrecy. [But even with Trump in office], you don’t have anyone expressing a desire to re-limit this power. We don’t debate going to war anymore.”

As told to Eric Pfeiffer and Katie Wudel

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