In an essay at Vox, the founder of the American Conservative said he is having second thoughts about his vote for Donald Trump, believing his “America First” campaign promises are being waylaid due to the influence of his newly installed advisers, Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner.
According to Scott McConnell, he voted for Trump because of his non-interventionist rhetoric during the campaign, writing, “America was not imbued with a unique moral innocence in foreign policy.”
“Many of our interventions have had terrible results. We don’t win wars any more; we have increasingly pressing problems at home—evident in such measures as shocking decline in the life spans of working class Americans,” McConnell continued. “I voted for Trump for anti-war reasons. But President Trump’s precipitous military strike on a Syrian airbase makes me and others doubt whether the prudent non-interventionist thoughts he expressed in the campaign mean what we hoped they did.”
McConnell explains that his skepticism extends to the war in Iraq following the 9/11 attacks, which he called the result of the “dismal intellectual and institutional failure” of the Republican Party.
“The whole idea that it could be a plausible American strategy to impose ‘democracy’ on the Middle East was never rooted in reality. Nor was the belief that the Middle East’s leaders and peoples would accept indefinitely an Israeli regional nuclear monopoly or that Palestinians deserved to be stateless,” McConnell wrote before turning on the Republican establishment he felt Trump had run against, including GOP rivals Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
“When Donald Trump announced his candidacy to run for President in 2016, I found myself surprised by how bold and, often, how cogent his foreign policy perspectives seemed,” McConnell wrote at Vox. ” Who would have thought that the political figure who could shift the Republican Party United States towards a more realist foreign policy, recognizing that the most serious threats to American greatness didn’t come primarily from foreign states, would be a New York real estate loudmouth?”
But that all changed with the U.S. bombing of the Shayrat airfield in response to Syrian President Assad using chemical weapons on his citizens.
“The missile strike may not mean that much; it may turn out, in a way, fine. It’s not a terrible thing for a realist power to growl and show its fangs from time to time, and America is party to an agreement under which the Assad regime removed its chemical weapons,” he wrote. “But it could also signal that Trump’s skepticism about intervention, which rested on the most shallow intellectual foundation to begin with, could evaporate very quickly in the face of rising poll numbers (the American people like their military!) and the pleasures of a strange new respect garnered from the likes of Elliot Abrams and [CNN host] Fareed Zakaria.”
“If our actions somehow bring about the Assad regime collapse, and Russia allows this, rather than counter-escalating, the result will look something like today’s Libya—a failed state, or worse, with newly empowered Islamists running wild and Christians fleeing or subject to genocide. What will be our policy then?” he continued. “One looks at the Trump White House, and wonders who might be asking these questions? Probably no one. There are certainly no non-interventionists of genuine foreign policy stature who have Trump’s ear. Into the vacuum have moved Jared and Ivanka, bright, conventionally wisdomed, yuppie New Yorkers, who have never had to formulate or defend a complicated foreign policy position in their lives.”
Adding, “I now fear that this presidency could go as badly as George W. Bush’s,” McConnell said he doesn’t regret his vote for Trump yet, but said he now has strong doubts how Trump will govern because he seems like he can be easily swayed.
“I certainly didn’t vote for the foreign policy preferences of Jared and Ivanka, or a policy driven by whatever images on TV happened to move the president. The Syrian strike and the administration’s words to justify it significantly weaken the case for believing Trump will actually improve things, he concluded.
You can read the whole thing here.