Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump waves as he leaves the stage at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
CLEVELAND -- A conflicted Republican Party continued its slow embrace of the philosophy of presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump at its national convention in Ohio this week, adopting a new posture of isolationism that exempts aggressive US military action against terrorists abroad.
The policy is a dramatic departure from recent Republican Party platforms past, and remains deeply controversial within GOP foreign policy ranks: Several top national security officials from the George W. Bush administration, as well as aides to the former GOP presidential campaigns of John McCain and Mitt Romney, have declared their intent to support presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton instead.
Trump's skepticism over US foreign aid generally and over the role of NATO specifically, over the benefits of continued US military presence in countries from Germany to South Korea, and over the value of US interventions across the Middle East all mark an historic U-turn for the party, which had previously defined leadership as muscular, visible engagement worldwide.
That newfound Republican isolationism has unexpected repercussions for Israel. The party's decade-old embrace of a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians has now fallen by the wayside thanks to Trump, who does not favor a US-brokered peace effort, according to his Mideast advisers.
As a result, the GOP convention for the first time in years has adopted a platform that includes no mention of the Palestinians, nor of a two-state solution to the historic conflict. The party effectively endorsed this week a strategy that leaves Israel to its own devices in its handling of the Palestinians– a departure from years of promises, across party lines, of American leadership toward conflict resolution.
Monday's theme at the Republican National Convention was 'Make America Safe Again,' and the message to voters was simple: Due to the presidency of Barack Obama, the country is less safe both from internal strife caused by racial tension as well as from metastasizing threats emanating from the Muslim world.
Here in Cleveland, buttons promising to put 'America First' are sold next to lapels proposing the US will 'bomb the hell out of ISIS'– a quote from Trump, who has vowed a ruthless military campaign against the Islamist terrorist organization and anyone in its path.
Trump has also promised that as president, America reserves the option of torturing its enemies and will consider targeting the families of terrorists– both violations of international law.
Republicans define leading as calling America's enemy by the name radical Islamic terrorism, and as more aggressively targeting Islamic State by military means. Few specifics are on offer here as to what would tactically change on the battlefield against Islamic State under a Trump administration. He and the party both advocate for additional defense spending, but for the purpose of strengthening the country's military as a deterrent against future conflicts.
Party figures are roundly maligning the nuclear deal reached with Iran as an agreement that has aggravated threats from its proxies against the US and its allies.
Speaking on Monday at the convention, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani said that Trump offered the "change" in American leadership the country needs, and said Trump would do for America what he did for New York City in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
He argued that America's next president must call its chief enemy by its name: Islamic extremist terrorism. Trump, in some contrast, has said that "Islam hates us," and proposes a temporary ban on all Muslims from entering the homeland.
Wednesday's theme here is 'Make America First Again.' Trump is slated to receive the nomination Tuesday night
and officially accept the Republican nomination for president Thursday.