It Is Time for Trump to Name His Foreign Policy Team
On May 18, Donald Trump made one of the best moves of his campaign. Responding to conservative concerns about who he would nominate to replace recently-deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Trump published the names of eleven eminently qualified conservative judges who he would consider for the vacancy. The move reassured conservatives and completely removed the issue from the table.
With Bernie Sanders in her rearview mirror, Hillary Clinton is now busily reinventing herself as a national security expert in an effort to lure GOP hawks into her tent. The Secretary of State responsible for the failed Russian "reset," who joined with President Obama in 2012 in criticizing Mitt Romney for calling out the Russian threat, now talks like a Cold Warrior and rolls out GOP endorsements such as General John Allen.
As an advisor to past GOP presidential campaigns who is not connected to the Trump campaign, let me offer some advice on how to quickly quash Clinton's initiative. Trump should do exactly what he did with the judges - release a list of foreign policy experts that he would consider for the key roles in his Administration.
Of course, no other candidate has ever taken this step before but Trump's entire campaign has been unorthodox and yet successful. I am not the first person to roll out this idea. My colleague, Hugh Hewitt, has advocated for Trump to release a list of his entire cabinet during the course of the fall. The following candidates, and there are other strong candidates with similar profiles, all believe deeply in American leadership and the concept of "peace through strength". They have either endorsed Trump or appear willing to work with him. They are a "Make America Great Again" national security all-star team that would serve Trump and the nation well.
Ambassador John Bolton, Secretary of State. After eight years of a Clinton/Kerry/Obama "lead from behind" foreign policy, no world leader will doubt America's word or resolve with Bolton as Secretary of State. Bolton got his start in the Reagan Administration and would bring the best of the Gipper's foreign policy legacy back to Foggy Bottom. Ambassador Pierre Prosper, one of America's most effective diplomats and the son of Haitian immigrants, would make a great Deputy Secretary. Fox contributor and former USUN spokesman, Richard Grenell, would turn the Department's afternoon briefings into 'must see TV'.
Senator Jim Talent, Secretary of Defense. After the Obama Administration's hollowing out of the US military through sequestration, there is no one in Washington who knows what is needed and how to get it Congress to approve it like Talent. An alum of both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, with bi-partisan respect, he will rebuild the military like Cap Weinberger did in the Reagan years. Trump will not tolerate waste at the Pentagon, thus, Chris Burnham, a former Marine LTC, who managed State and then cleaned up the UN as UnderSecretary General in the Bush Administration, is the right man for the Deputy Secretary slot. Adding AEI's Mackenzie Eaglan, a future Secretary of Defense herself, as Under Secretary for Aquisition, ensures that America will rebuild its defense capability without wasting the taxpayer's hard earned money.
Senator Bob Corker, National Security Advisor. Mr. Trump will need a steady hand in the White House as he begins the cleanup of eight years of foreign policy wreckage wrought by President Obama's National Security Council, or as Senator Tom Cotton refers to it, "all these failed novelists, yes men and fan boys who were van drivers or press flaks for Barack Obama in Iowa and New Hampshire in 2008." There will be no learning curve for Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and would provide mature advice to the President. Key deputies could include Cotton's national security director, Alex Wong, and former Reagan DOD official and Fox contributor, KT McFarland.
Speaker Newt Gingrich, Ambassador to the United Nations. The UN never was nor will it ever be the "parliament of nations" that globalist envision. However, it does have many aspects of a legislature. There is no one in the country with the boldness or skill of Newt Gingrich to stride into the General Assembly at Turtle Bay and make America's voice heard. The Speaker, with his wide ranging interests, deep intellect and grasp of legislative politics could become one of the greatest American ambassadors to the UN ever, certainly in league with Daniel Patrick Moynahan, Jean Kirkpatrick and Bolton.
LT General Mike Flynn, CIA Director. For eight years, peak political correctness has prevented our intelligence services from even mentioning the name of our enemies, who have brought mayhem to America and Europe, not to mention the Middle East. General Flynn was sacrificed as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency for daring to speak the words "radical Islamic extremists." The president must be comfortable with his chief intelligence officer (still the DCIA, notwithstanding the post-9-11 org chart). Given that Mr. Trump considered him as a potential VP, Flynn certainly meets this criteria. What a positive message of change his appointment would send to the Intel bureaucracy as well as our allies abroad!
CEO Andy Puzder, Secretary of Commerce. Improving America's trade relationships is clearly a foreign policy centerpiece for Mr. Trump. Andy Puzder knows what it takes to rebuild an organization and negotiate favorable business deals. As a lawyer, he negotiated a number of major transactions and, as CEO, he guided Carl Karcher Enterprises through a near death financial situation. As the company's CEO, he turned Carl's Jr. and Hardee's from near bankruptcy into two of the most successful and fastest growing restaurant chains in America. Much of the company's growth is now overseas, so he knows how to navigate the world. Unlike some other GOP CEO's, he did not flirt with the NeverTrump movement and is now onboard the campaign as an economic advisor. Puzder is the type of successful fellow-CEO that Trump would respect and trust enough to negotiate and renegotiate trade deals around the world.
Of course, the foregoing are just a few of the hundreds of foreign policy and national security positions that must be filled in a new administration. They are, however, the high profile nominations and appointments that will set a tone for a Trump Administration. By releasing such a list of serious, credible and conservative candidates under consideration for his team, Mr. Trump could put a quick end to the Clinton campaign's attempt to lure national security-focused GOP voters to her camp.
Robert C. O'Brien is a partner at Larson O'Brien LLP. He served as a US Representative to the UN General Assembly. His book, While America Slept: Restoring American Leadership to a World in Crisis, will be released on September 6 by Encounter and is available for pre-order on Amazon. Robert can be followed on Twitter @robertcobrien.