What You Need To Know
✅ Michael Weiss is a senior editor at The Daily Beast and co-author of the bestselling book ‘ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror’. In an interview recorded days after the election, Mr. Weiss gives his views on future U.S.-Russia relations under Donald Trump, American foreign policy and which political heavyweights will likely appear in Trump's cabinet.
✅ Weiss: 'Trump is seen, I think among European allies rightly so, as one of the most dangerous presidents that the United States could ever have
✅ Weiss: 'Donald Trump says the Iran nuclear deal is the worst deal ever negotiated in the history of mankind. But in Syria, you can not contain or confront Iran militarily without jeopardizing your relationship with Russia. I don't think Trump knows enough to be honest, about the state of play in Syria to even appreciate this contradiction to his campaign platform'
✅ Weiss: 'If '500,000 people are being slaughtered in some country, that is no consideration to Trump until or unless it becomes a national security threat to the United States.'
Donald Trump's unrivaled unpredictability and irrationality have alarmed America's European allies, especially Ukraine and the Baltic States. The business magnate has argued that the United States would only honor its commitment to defend NATO member states once their level of military spending has been taken into consideration. But Trump saw the NATO military alliance as a 'sort of spent force in the world', even before Russian leader Vladimir Putin took office. That’s the view of Michael Weiss, a bestselling author and a senior editor at The Daily Beast. He argues that the business tycoon clearly thinks the United States should not be keeping the 67-year old TransAtlantic defense pact afloat.
"To his mind, it's all about paying the bills or lack thereof...He thinks America is owed money for stationing troops or having any kind of military deployment on the European continent. This is very worrisome, as you can imagine, given what has happened in Europe in the last 2-3 years", Mr. Weiss says.
“Trump is seen I think among European allies, rightly so, as one of the most dangerous presidents that the United States could ever have.”
Days after the interview with Mr. Weiss was filmed, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich quashed rumors that he would be serving in the cabinet of Donald Trump. “I intend to be focused on strategic planning”, the long-time Republican said on November 17, in an interview with American publisher McClatchy. Mr. Gingrich is strongly tied to the Washington establishment, something Mr. Trump tirelessly campaigned against in the weeks prior to the November 8 election.
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“On the campaign, Gingrich has been rather isolationist and actually has gone back on a lot of things he said, particularly in 1994. He introduced his contract for America. If you talk to the Baltic leaders such as former Estonian President Tom Ilves, they remind you that part of the contract for America was the accession of the Baltic States into NATO.”
Whoever takes the position of U.S. Secretary of State, the likelihood that Donald Trump would go to war in the Middle East or engage in other any kind of military adventures abroad on behalf of human rights is slim, Mr. Weiss argues.
“I think he (Trump) is all about cutting deals. If 500,000 people are slaughtered in some country, that is no consideration to him until or unless it becomes a national security threat to the United States. Donald Trump’s business experience has proven he prefers not to be involved in the ‘nitty gritty of details’, Mr. Weiss says
“He's not a policy wonk. He doesn't want to know specifics. He's a big picture guy. So he gives a certain set of marching orders and expects other people to implement them on his behalf.”
Mr. Trump has pledged to restore a strong and healthy relationship with Russia. Factoring in this, question marks remain over whether he would allow the State Department to raise a cry against the Kremlin’s crackdown on independent media and opposition political figures as well as the Russian occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and eastern industrial heartlands of Donbas.
Mr. Trump also faces hurdles drawing up a policy for the Middle East, as Mr. Weiss explains.
“As an Iran hawk, he (Trump) thinks the Iran deal is the worst deal negotiated in the history of mankind, as he's put it. On the campaign trail, he has vowed to rip up the deal on day one of his presidency, although now he seems to be adopting a more accommodationist posture. So in Syria, you can not contain or confront militarily Iran without jeopardizing your relationship with Russia. I don't think Trump knows enough to be honest, about the state of play in Syria to even appreciate this contradiction to his campaign platform.
Russia and Iran cut a deal in 2015 not to defeat the so-called Islamic State but to bolster the Assad regime and forestall any kind of American intervention. Since then, the Russian air force has targeted CIA-backed Syrian rebel groups, bombing them, sometimes to the benefit of the so-called Islamic State, which has then moved in on the ground.
“Trump said we need to establish safe zones in Syria so that essentially, Syrian people do not leave their own country. How do you do that without engaging Assad and Russia and preventing them from bombing areas in the country?”, Mr. Weiss says.