November 11, 2016
My advice to President-elect Trump would be to seize the opportunity to become a transformational president by taking some dramatic foreign policy steps that will not only enhance his place in history, but also enhance the security of the world and the United States (in other words, make America great again).
In nuclear weapons policy, I would advise him to adopt a no-first-use policy, (something he alluded to in the campaign debates), resubmit the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to the Senate, follow the advice of former Secretary of Defense William Perry and former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright to cut the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons to 1,000 by eliminating the land-based component of the nuclear triad and the air launched cruise missile. This will not only enhance our moral standing in the world, but improve our relations with Russia and free up substantial funds in the defense budget to purchase the additional conventional forces Trump has argued are needed to protect this nation and prosecute the war against ISIS.
I would tell him not only to continue to implement the nuclear deal with Iran, but work with the Congress to remove the sanctions that prevent Iran from gaining the economic benefits they expected when they signed the agreement, thereby empowering the moderates in that country.
I would tell him to not only help to keep NAFTA, but work with our partners to modify the Trans-Pacific Partnership, so it can be ratified by the Congress. Not only will this enhance our economy and increase our security in the Pacific by helping the United States deal with a rising and assertive China; it will also force China to make some of the changes he argues are necessary, if they wish to join the TPP.
Finally, I would encourage him to keep the pressure on our NATO and Asian allies to contribute more to offsetting the cost of the security we guarantee them. This will not only undermine the case of those in the United States who feel we are paying too large a portion of these collective security arrangements, but help combat the growing power of Russia in Europe and China in Asia.
I recognize that these steps will be difficult for him given his campaign promises. But they will not only make America great; they will give him a chance to become a great foreign policy president, in the mold of Nixon and Reagan, who went against their campaign rhetoric when it came to nuclear weapons and relations with Russia and China. Moreover, these steps will make it easier for a President Trump to get Congressional and public support in general.
Lawrence J. Korb
Center for American Progress