Clinton,Trump Battle Over Natl Security07/30 10:21
In their struggle for the upper hand on national security, Hillary Clinton
and Donald Trump are emphasizing strikingly different themes -- he as the bold
and cunningly unpredictable strongman who will eliminate terrorism; she as the
calm, conventional commander in chief who will manage all manner of crises.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In their struggle for the upper hand on national
security, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are emphasizing strikingly different
themes - he as the bold and cunningly unpredictable strongman who will
eliminate terrorism; she as the calm, conventional commander in chief who will
manage all manner of crises.
Terrorism is Trump's national security touchstone, and the Islamic State
group is his target. He promises to wipe it out, and quickly.
Clinton accuses him of fearmongering and of denigrating the U.S. military as
gutted and worn out. She presents herself as the anti-Trump.
"America's strength doesn't come from lashing out," she said in accepting
the Democratic nomination Thursday. "Strength relies on smarts, judgment, cool
resolve, and the precise and strategic application of power." By implication,
Trump is cast as bombastic, scattershot, impulsive and fanciful.
National security has emerged as a key focus of the campaign --- not so much
the candidates' plans as their temperaments. Trump says he is best suited
because he would be a dealmaker and deliberately unpredictable, thus making it
more difficult for adversaries to counter his military or diplomatic moves.
Clinton pitches her steadiness and depth of experience from eight years in the
Senate and four years as President Barack Obama's secretary of state.
Each has zeroed in on what many consider the most worrisome issues:
terrorism and an assertive Russia. The next president, however, will face a
wider range of problems, to include ending the war in Afghanistan, managing the
nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, coping with a rising China and
ending a cycle of bloody instability in Iraq and Syria. There also are
challenges in cyberwarfare, nuclear weapons and the modernization of the U.S.
Trump calls his approach "America first," meaning alliances and coalitions
would not pass muster with him unless they produced a net benefit to the U.S.
He drew rebukes from much of the national security establishment when he
suggested in a recent newspaper interview that as president he might not defend
certain NATO member countries against outside attack if they were falling short
of the alliance's defense spending targets. He also has been accused of being
too easy on Vladimir Putin, the Russian president whom Trump has openly admired.
Clinton sees international partnerships as essential tools for using
American influence and lessening the chances of war. That is an approach rooted
in a U.S. tradition of bipartisan support for institutions such as NATO, whose
value and future Trump says should not be taken for granted.
Trump has tried to keep his focus on fear. In his acceptance speech at the
Republican National Convention he decried "war and destruction." He said the
long-volatile and often violent Middle East is now "worse than it has ever been
before," suggesting Americans are increasingly at risk.
He mocks Clinton's experience as a member of Obama's war Cabinet, labeling
her legacy at the State Department as "death, destruction, terrorism and
She questions Trump's reliability. "He loses his cool at the slightest
provocation," she said in her acceptance speech at the Democratic National
Convention. "Imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis. A man you can
bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons."
The commander in chief's responsibility in the nuclear arena is not
traditionally a hot-button issue on the campaign trail. But it has arisen more
regularly this time, mainly because the Democrats see Trump as vulnerable to
voter doubts about whether he could be trusted to use nuclear restraint. He
raised eyebrows during a Republican primary debate when he seemed unaware of
the nuclear "triad," the bombers, submarines and long-range missiles that have
comprised the three basic pieces of the American nuclear arsenal for more than
Through her supporters, including retired military officers, Clinton has
pushed back on Trump's claim that he alone has the right formula for keeping
"She, as no other, knows how to use all instruments of American power, not
just the military, to keep us all safe and free," John Allen, the retired
Marine general and former presidential envoy to the international coalition
aligned against the Islamic State, told the Democratic National Convention.
Allen presented a counterpoint to Trump's top military supporter, retired
Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. In
his address to the Republican National Convention, Flynn doubled down on
Trump's portrayal of Clinton as unqualified to be president. He blamed her for
"bumbling indecisiveness, willful ignorance and total incompetence."