Donald Trump’s speech to the United Nations does its best to form a synthesis out of Steve Bannon’s nationalism and George W. Bush’s foreign policy, but it’s not exactly a coherent combination, and we can already see its blind spots.
It has been a bit odd to see Bush-era neoconservatives applauding Trump’s speech, but it’s easy to understand why. Trump trashed the Iran deal and threw down some deadly threats against North Korea, a relief after years of the Obama administration’s passivity. (President Obama loved what I call “off-ramp diplomacy“—always seeking the “off-ramp” that would not actually resolve a crisis but temporarily remove it from the president’s plate.) More deeply, though, Trump’s speech actually incorporates recognizable elements from Bush-era foreign policy, particularly on the subject of terrorism. Like this:
“We must deny the terrorists safe haven, transit, funding, and any form of support for their vile and sinister ideology. We must drive them out of our nations. It is time to expose and hold responsible those countries who support and finance terror groups like al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban, and others that slaughter innocent people. The United States and our allies are working together throughout the Middle East to crush the loser terrorists and stop the reemergence of safe havens they use to launch attacks on all of our people.”