Clinton or Trump?

Who should be the next Commander-in-Chief?

This week I am writing from the USA.

Robert Gates is a distinguished public servant having served eight presidents over 50 years and been Secretary of Defence under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

In last weekend’s Wall Street Journal he gave us his candid thoughts on the two Presidential candidates. I found it honest and refreshing journalism, as Gates expressed what most Americans are thinking.

In his article entitled “Sizing Up the Next Commander-in-Chief”, Gates begins by looking at US relations with China. He says,

“Every aspect of our relationship with China is becoming more challenging. In addition to Chinese cyberspying and theft of intellectual property, many American businesses in China are encountering an increasingly hostile environment.”

He says relations with China requires a President …

“….with strategic acumen and vision, nuance, deft diplomatic and political skill, and sound instincts on when to challenge, when to stay silent and when to compromise or partner.”

On China, he reports that Trump has not said and done much to give anyone confidence.

“All we really know about is Mr Trump’s intention to launch a trade war with a country (China) holding over $1 trillion in US debt and the largest market for many US companies…”

Mrs Clinton fares no better. About her, he reports,

“…Mrs Clinton’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, (is inconsistent given) she helped to craft it and the failure of which would hand China an easy political and economic win.”

Gates examines the issues thrown up by Russia, North Korea, Iran, the Middle East and cannot find any direction from either Presidential candidate on foreign affairs.

Both candidates have credibility problems.

About Clinton,

“ (She) was the senior-most advocate for using the US military to bring ill-fated regime change in Libya and further, failed to anticipate the chaos that would follow….she was for trade agreements before turned against them in this election campaign, just as she voted for the Iraq war in 2003 and then,…..opposed the troop surge there…”

On Trump he has no kind words,

“When it comes to credibility problems though, Donald Trump is in a league of his own. He has expressed support for building a wall between the US and Mexico, for torturing suspected terrorists and killing their families, for Mr Putin’s dictatorial leadership …..He also has said he is for using defence spending by NATO allies as a litmus test on whether the US will keep its treaty commitments to them, for withdrawing US troops from Europe, South Korea and Japan and for the latter two developing nuclear weapons-a highly destabilising prospect.”

He concludes,

“At least on national security, I believe that Mr Trump is beyond repair. He is stubbornly uninformed about the world and how to lead our country and government, and temperamentally unsuited to lead our men and women in uniform. ….”

Sobering thoughts.

I found the following comments insightful

All the Presidents I served were strong personalities with strongly held views about the world. But each surrounded himself with strong independent-minded, knowledgeable and experienced advisers who would tell the president what he needed to hear, not what he wanted to hear. Sometimes presidents would take their advice, sometimes not. But they would always listen. …

In domestic affairs, there are many checks on what a president can do; in national security there are few constraints.”