FPRI takes no positions on the presidential candidates; naturally, our individual scholars do, and we anticipate those positions will vary.
Last week, a group of more than 100 leading Republican foreign-policy and defense experts, including many with decades of practical policy experience, signed an open letter stating their common belief that Donald Trump is unfit to be America’s commander-in-chief and that he must be opposed. This statement, published by the website War on the Rocks, received widespread commentary from news outlets in the U.S. and abroad. I was happy to sign that letter. Here’s why.
Every Republican president since World War II has affirmed that the United States has a key role to play in upholding an international order friendly to its own interests. This need not include intervention in every case; we’ve certainly learned that over the years. It does, however, include a worthwhile set of U.S. alliances, bases, trade agreements, intelligence capabilities, and deterrent forces overseas. Imagine if the United States had stayed aloof from international politics since the 1940s. The world would certainly be a far more dangerous, impoverished, and authoritarian place than it is today. American conservatives, for their part, have long engaged in healthy debate about exactly how to best contribute to U.S. interests overseas and why it’s vital to do so. But ever since Dwight Eisenhower beat Robert Taft for the GOP’s presidential nomination in 1952, no Republican commander-in-chief has actively tried to uproot or dismantle this overarching U.S. world role.
American engagement in global affairs since the 1940s has been a force for good. To believe this, you don’t need to be a neoconservative. I’m not. Neither were most of the signatories of our open letter. The letter was signed by a wide range of Republican foreign-policy and national-security analysts, including pro-defense advocates, foreign-policy realists, GOP internationalists, regional experts, and traditional conservative security hawks. Believe me, we sometimes disagree with one another. But one thing we all agree on is that the world would be an even more dangerous place if Donald Trump were president…