Trump and the real wall of safety (NATO); Nixon’s 1968 RNC speech


President Truman signing the NATO compact in 1949. Would Trump dismantle this true wall of safety to the US and the western world?

Oh lord, today I have an all Trump-related edition. Sorry about that.

So today we get word of Donald Trump’s latest lunacy, (but will it effect his poll numbers??) He apparently does not understand the importance of our NATO commitments, and word of this has shaken eastern Europe, especially the more impoverished countries that still fear Russia might one day try to conquer them again. Republicans have responded by criticizing their nominee and once again scratching their heads that this man has captured their party. In case you need a refresher on NATO and why it is so important to the defense of western civilization , Politico (among others) has a good piece that places Trump’s position into the context of the history of NATO, highlighting the criticism he is taking from his own party. ABC News also has a good little primer on “what you need to know about NATO amid Donald Trump’s skepticism.” But perhaps Senator Lindsay Graham says it best: “Statements like these make the world more dangerous and the United States less safe. If Mr. Trump is serious about wanting to be commander-in-chief he needs to better understand the job which is to provide leadership for the United States and the free world.” Exactly.

Yes, the Cold War is over, but if Trump thinks he can win the “war on terror” and keep us safe (as he continually promises) without the full support of NATO, he not only has no understanding of the past, he has no understanding of the recent past (the only time the NATO compact has been invoked has been when NATO countries helped us militarily respond to 9/11, and in our continual efforts against terror).

But wait, isn’t Trump supposed to be the guy that is going to make us safe again? He wants to build a literal wall to protect us, but meanwhile forsake the figurative, but very real one, that has protected both us and the rest of the west since WWII ??

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said of Trump’s statement about NATO, “I am willing to kind of chalk it up to a rookie mistake.” WOW. Do we want that rookie in charge of our military and diplomatic relationships? Folks, THIS is the way the man can truly hurt us. McConnell goes on to say that any Secretary of State that Trump would appoint would no doubt disagree with his stance on NATO, implying that others can rein in Trump’s more outlandish positions. Seriously? Has this man done ANYTHING that demonstrates that he can be reined in by anyone?

Tonight at the Republican Convention we get the main event– Trump’s acceptance speech. All indications are that he is keenly aware of all the comparisons between this year and 1968, so he plans to tap into Nixon’s speech from that year as a model for his own tonight. We have already seen him touting himself as the “law and order candidate,” but his wife’s recent plagiarism scandal has reportedly resulted in Trump’s staff going back over his speech to either credit or change any language that is too close to Nixon’s. So it will be interesting to see the result. But what exactly did Nixon say in ’68? Time has posted a good succinct overview of what Dick had to say at the RNC that year. Will the general outline of Trump’s be the same? You can also prepare for the comparisons by just watching Nixon:

Meanwhile, over on We’re History, they’ve posted an interesting essay by Professor Sarah Katherine Mergel in which she too discusses Nixon’s speech, but places it more broadly into what was going on during the convention (a largely forgotten racially charged riot just down the street in Miami) as well as how it foreshadowed the politics of the rest of  the late 20th century. (I’m not sure that it is accurate to say that the 1968 RNC has largely been forgotten because it was overshadowed by the Democrat Convention’s chaos that year. Aren’t they always taught as a pair that helps to explain why Nixon won? –The chaos of the DNC contrasted with the apparent tranquility, unity and “law and order” of the RNC. But I am quibbling).

And so we conclude with another video from the Historians on Donald Trump collection. Here in this short video, Pulitzer Prize winner Stacy Schiff goes off on Trump for being generally unaware of both history and current events. The man, she argues, “seems to sneer at, or even quarantine himself, from the past.” (Have his comments about NATO  not given just the latest proof of this?)


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