Home Opinion Opinion: Neither candidates’ foreign policy plan is perfect, but Clinton’s is more stable

Opinion: Neither candidates’ foreign policy plan is perfect, but Clinton’s is more stable

10 min read

Before meeting with President Obama at the ASEAN summit in Laos, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte called the American commander-in-chief a “son of a whore.” Duterte was referring to Obama’s criticism of his vigilante anti-drug campaign, which allows citizens in the Philippines to shoot and kill any person they suspect of being a drug dealer or user, with total immunity. The campaign has left at least 2,400 dead as of Monday.

Obama’s response was to cancel the meeting, stating that the timing may not be right for “productive, constructive conversations.” While dealing with sensitive international issues, the president must maintain composure and rationality.

With the U.S. presidential elections merely two months away, Americans must be wondering how their future leader will handle negotiating problems on the international stage.

Donald Trump, the surprise Republican candidate, has had some outlandish opinions on international relations compared with his fellow Republicans. One of his most concerning stances is his support for pulling troops out of South Korea, among other countries, unless they are willing to pay more for U.S. military support.

Withdrawing troops who provide military assistance and national security to our allies would create more problems than it would resolve – we would leave these countries vulnerable to invasion and strain our mutual trust. South Korea in particular relies heavily on U.S. military assistance to prevent its nuclear neighbor, North Korea, from attacking over the DMZ. Our influence is a major factor in maintaining stability in this region of the world, and disregarding our historical accountability for the tension in Korea is reckless and irresponsible.

Trump’s agenda gets even more problematic with regards to his thoughts on the solution to the issues North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un presents. Although the North Korean government has publicly endorsed Trump, the feeling is not mutual – Trump suggests that China “make him (Jong Un) disappear.” He insists that China has control over North Korea and its responsible for neutralizing North Korea.

Despite the fact that China and North Korea are allies, assassinating a dictator will inevitably leave a power vacuum for another dictator, and if it doesn’t, then China will be responsible for redeveloping North Korea and looking after its 20 million citizens. No country has a surplus of resources that could immediately placate the needs of that many people.

While Trump’s plan would spell impending doom for all parties involved, Hillary Clinton does not have the magical solution to fix Korea either. She, like many other politicians, has stated the U.S. would be willing to assist North Korea in its economic and humanitarian needs if the country agrees to disarm and shut down its nuclear programs – similar to Obama’s policy, which has made little to no progress.

Clinton’s policy, though it may not resolve any of the issues surrounding North Korea, is sensible. Her proposed policy highlights her understanding of international relations; sensitive issues such as North Korea require diligence and composure to fix in order to preserve the delicate balance on which the international community teeters.

Another divisive issue between Clinton and Trump is President Vladimir Putin and Russia. Trump has repeatedly expressed his belief that he and Putin will get along and cooperate in order to strengthen diplomatic ties. The U.S. and Russia have generally been at odds in international affairs due to Cold War politics, but a budding relationship with Russia could put these issues to rest.

However, the majority of American citizens and politicians do not trust Putin, and for good reasons. President Bashar Al-Assad of Syria, whose regime is responsible for the deaths of at least 250,000 civilians, has received unending support from Russia throughout its ongoing civil war. The Assad regime has also sparked the surge of immigrants flooding into Europe that has caused an international and humanitarian crisis.

Speaking purely of America’s interests abroad, stronger diplomatic ties with Russia would be beneficial. Any time two countries can negotiate through their issues into a working partnership, they decrease the chance of further disputes that could lead to tensions and war. But the U.S. has a long, complicated history with Russia, and Cold War politics still apply – we still have competing interests abroad and opposing ideologies.

For example, the U.S. has been indirectly countering Putin and Russia by backing the Kurdish rebels in Syria, who are battling the Assad regime. Our countries have stark opposite motives internationally, especially when it comes to Syria. So Trump’s suggested alliance, regardless of its chances of sucess, is a slippery slope to send America down.

Meanwhile, Clinton plans to strengthen security of our NATO alliances, a move intended to prevent any aggressive activity from Russia. She has also expressed serious concern over the threat of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. None of these opinions obtain substantial differences from Obama’s policies — or any other politician for that matter — because these policies are rationally thought out, will maintain our relationships with our allies and prevent aggressive action from our enemies.

The reason there isn’t much room for policy fluctuation in these sensitive areas of international relations is because anything else would provoke these aggressive world nation leaders.  Trump has a more impulsive nature, which is a detriment to America’s international interests. Global affairs are not black and white, and it requires a lot of diplomacy and patience to maintain international stability. When it comes to serious international problems, such as the human rights issue in Indonesia, it’s realistic to assume that Donald Trump wouldn’t be able to handle negotiating with someone like Rodrigo Duterte – the two are actually quite similar.  


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