The next president of the United States will face a world of chaos when it comes to foreign policy issues.
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump will have plenty of time before the November elections to try to prove they are well-prepared to deal with tough foreign policy choices.
War against ISIS
The ongoing clashes against the Islamic State (ISIS) in the Middle East have intensified. Coalition forces, U.S.-backed Kurds and the Iraqi army are fighting in Syria and Iraq. It appears so far that a Clinton presidency would be an extension of Obama’s term, maybe even tougher.
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Clinton has a three-pillar strategy on ISIS: Clash with it in Syria and Iraq, collapse its networks and engage in an ideological movement against radicalism. She said last year, “An immediate war against an urgent enemy and a generational struggle against an ideology with deep roots will not be easily torn out.”
That’s true, but Americans need to hear more about how her “ideological” war against ISIS would work.
Trump’s ISIS strategy is simple — and simple-minded. He said, “Their days are numbered. I won’t tell them where and I won’t tell them how. As a nation we must be more unpredictable. They will be gone quickly.”
No, they will not. Trump also once suggested giving ISIS a free-zone to occupy in Syria. He looks confused about how to realistically deal with ISIS.
Economic battle with China
During his campaign, Trump has said that the United States cannot continue to allow China to “rape” the country with trade deficits. He has proposed a 45 percent tax on imported goods and a 35 percent levy on goods from Mexico.
Some experts correctly note that radically high tariffs on Chinese and Mexican products would not be good for American consumers or free trade. Retaliation from those countries would damage the American economy.
China, though, does not favor Clinton’s candidacy. During her term as secretary of state, she emphasized the value of human rights and internet freedom in China several times.
Clinton also has accused China of breaking trade rules, saying, “They know that if I’m their president, they’re going to have to toe the line.”
No matter who takes the White House, crucial relations with China could get tougher.
The refugee crisis
The Syrian civil war has caused the worst refugee crisis since World War II. How to deal with refugees has become one of the most important elements of the presidential race.
Trump has shared some opprobrious ideas on this issue. He said he would back at least a temporary “complete shutdown” of Muslims entering America. He has insisted that a long, tall wall will be built along the Mexican border, while nonsensically saying Mexico will pay for it.
Clinton does not close the doors to allowing refugees into the United States. She said, “Turning away orphans, applying a religious test, discriminating against Muslims, slamming the door on every Syrian refugee — that is just not who we are.”
She is absolutely right to state America’s deeply held values on this subject. Still, Trump’s bid to keep immigrants out of America has gained some popularity and will need to be forcefully repulsed during the presidential campaign.
Instability in Europe
The United Kingdom will vote June 23 on whether leave or stay in the European Union. Agreeing with President Barack Obama, Clinton believes that a stronger and united Europe is good for America. She doesn’t want Britons to leave the EU.
Trump has a radically different approach, saying, “I would say they’re (Britons) better off without it.” Unlike Obama’s thoughts on future trade deals with the United Kingdom, Trump said, “It wouldn’t make any difference to me whether they’re in the EU or not. They certainly would not be back of the queue.”
Trump is wrong. A shattered Europe would create more economic and political risks for the world — and for the U.S.
Americans need to hear more comprehensive foreign affairs plans from Clinton. Beyond attacking Trump, the former secretary of state has to better show how she would use her diplomatic skills to navigate a turbulent world.
Trump, meanwhile, needs to put together a more coherent foreign policy proposal that dumps his cartoonish view of the globe’s real problems.