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Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton — first thoughts on the debate

Over the course of their first television debate the two candidates set out their respect foreign policy positions: more international interventionism from Hillary Clinton, more focus on rebuilding the US and promoting US national interest from Donald Trump.

Last night Donald Trump had to debate both Hillary Clinton and ‘moderator’ Lester Holt, but there was nothing ‘moderate’ about this moderator.

During the course of the debate Trump said that Clinton’s biggest supporter is the mainstream media. This incisive statement reflected the general tone of the debate and revealed a deep and dark truth about the entire election process.

Nonetheless Trump remained cool but firm, defended his statements that were time and again taken out of context by the moderator, and refused to be drawn by Hillary Clinton’s paranoid and farcical anti-Russian conspiracy theories.

Most of the subjects were predictable, with Trump repeating his line on protecting jobs from globalist trade policies, a fairer tax regime, and a tough law and order stance.

For the rest of the wider world, the foreign policy section of the debate will be the most important segment as sadly the US’s relations with the wider world have increasingly been based on the export of warfare rather than the export of Coca-Cola or McDonalds.

Here were the key points:

Hillary Clinton restated the lie that Russia hacked into the computers of the Democratic Party. The words spilled out of her expressionless face, with no sense of irony let alone shame.

Trump responded by saying that the hacker could be anyone, and that there is no evidence that points to Russia more than to anyone else. He said that it could well be ‘someone on their bed who weighs 400 pounds’.

Interestingly, no one mentioned the prominent hacker Guccifer 2.0 who has expressed his disappointment that the President of Russia has received the credit for something he claims responsibility for.

Trump would not be drawn on Hillary Clinton’s accusation that he is colluding with Russia. This of course is nonsense. To say one wants peace and trade with a major world power is not collusion.  It’s called being sensible.

Clinton didn’t stop there though. She claimed that whilst she’d prefer not to do so, she is willing to engage in cyber war with any state. This came from someone who pleads cyber ignorance when asked about her copiously deleted emails.

Trump said strong support for US military veterans and other law enforcement bodies is more important than Clinton’s rhetoric, and that he’ll take the advice of military professionals over that of ‘political hacks’ any day.

Turning to ISIS, Hillary Clinton spoke of the US military ‘assisting’ in Iraq, after which it will ‘squeeze them in Syria’. There’s only one problem – Syria doesn’t want this kind of ‘assistance’.  However according to an audio recording in Syria’s possession ISIS does want and is receiving US assistance.

Best yet, Hillary Clinton said that ISIS is being aided by foreign money…yes, the foreign money of her Saudi friends. I have to say that when it comes to women’s rights, Hillary Clinton has done well. Never in Saudi history has a woman wheedled so much influence and power over the Wahhabist kingdom as has Hillary Clinton. 

Trump responded with largely accurate statements. He repeated his long standing line that Obama and Clinton were the founders of ISIS, and that they did so by creating a power vacuum in an unstable Iraq that America should have never invaded in the first place. Powerful stuff from a man who wants to be the first Republican president since George W. Bush.

Trump went onto say that by not ‘taking the oil’, America left ISIS with their biggest source of revenue.

Trump then went on to blame Hillary Clinton personally for the ‘disaster’ in Libya. The very personal nature of Hillary Clinton’s war on Libya has now been made crystal clear thanks to Wikileaks.

Later Trump stated that under Hillary Clinton ISIS went from being ‘an infant’ to being everywhere.

On NATO, Trump reiterated his stance that the US cannot be the ‘world’s policeman’, especially when many NATO members are not paying their fair share of funds to the organisation as required by formal agreements. The fact NATO is covered by the US to the tune of 73% of its costs will resonate well with ordinary voters who think that Riga is the latest Japanese hybrid car.

Trump also said that it is mindless for America to foot the costs of Saudi Arabian defence given the immense wealth of the corrupt kingdom.

Trump went on to take credit for inspiring NATO to create an anti-terrorism task force, and said that if it had not done so the organisation would have become obsolete.  Whilst he did not directly mention NATO’s anti-Russian mission and say that it runs totally contrary to the nature of the modern world, the implication was clear.

Trump concluded by accusing Hillary Clinton of lacking the stamina to be President.  Certainly she lacks the inspiration. We all know that working for Hillary Clinton is so depressing that some of her ex-employees commit suicide twice. There is something of the automaton about her, reading from a blood soaked script. By contrast Trump comes over as human, humorous and last night as surprisingly restrained.

Overall on foreign policy Hillary Clinton showed a firm commitment to the US being everywhere save in the US itself. Her foreign policy has destroyed much of the world and a Hillary Clinton presidency would drown even more of the world in blood.

By contrast Trump’s views are best summed up with his own quote, “We spent $6 trillion in the Middle East. We could have rebuilt our country twice!”

For many in the US the issues of tax, wealth, employment and civil strife are the major issues. But for the wider world the question between Trump and Clinton is the question between war and peace.

Hillary Clinton is without doubt the war candidate.  Last night’s debate proved it.

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