“The world is most peaceful and most prosperous when America is strongest. America will continue and continue forever to play the role peacemaker. We will always help save lives and indeed, humanity itself, but to play that role, we must make America strong again.”
Donald Trump has said that his foreign policy views have been informed by his overseas business experience and meetings with world leaders. He has described himself as “not isolationist, but I am America first,” and has said that he would renegotiate traditional American alliances like NATO if allies were not willing to increase their share of the military or financial burden.
Calling himself the most “militaristic person you will ever find,” Trump has said that to be successful, the United States must be respected, which will require a stronger military with “the best weapons ever.” At the same time, Trump has said, “War and aggression will not be my first instinct,” and that, “You cannot have a foreign policy without diplomacy.” His foreign policy platform has focused on immigration, like having Mexico pay for building a wall along the border with the United States.
Following Trump’s April foreign policy speech, he weighed in our nation’s humanitarian and foreign assistance programs for the first time in a FOX interview. He noted “if we don’t help” countries facing disasters, then it would create “bigger problems.” On help to countries like Pakistan, he said “we don’t want to see total instability,” adding that the alternative could be more expensive and end up on the “other side of the ledger… could really be a disaster.” In the case of assistance to countries struggling with poverty, Trump said he would “try to keep some of these countries going” while underscoring the domestic and fiscal challenges facing the U.S.
When asked whether or not he would commit to doubling the number of people receiving HIV/AIDS treatment worldwide through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Trump said, “Yes, I believe so strongly in that and we’re going to lead the way.”
On the other hand, Trump said in his speech announcing his presidential candidacy that the United States should “stop sending foreign aid to countries that hate us” and to spend the funds domestically to “invest in our infrastructure… our tunnels, roads, bridges and schools.” He has called development investments in Iraq and Afghanistan wasteful and that the funds should be used to “rebuild the United States.” When asked whether he would support military intervention on humanitarian grounds, Trump responded affirmatively, but added that it would depend on the national security implications for the U.S. and “how friendly they’ve been toward us.”
Image: Gage Skidmore / CC
Governor Mike Pence has been vocal on the importance of America’s global leadership, having said it is “imperative that conservatives again embrace America’s role as leader of the free world and the arsenal of democracy.” He has said foreign policy could be a central issue in the 2016 election and that he will be “one of the voices in the party that says that America has a place in the world, a responsibility… as a beacon of freedom.”
Before becoming Governor of Indiana, Pence served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013 where he was a long-serving member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, a vocal supporter of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, and an advocate for increased defense spending. Having also served as Chairman of the influential Republican Study Committee and of the House Republican Conference, Pence embraced the Republican legacy of American global leadership, saying, “President Reagan taught us, peace comes through strength.”
As a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Pence played a leadership role in supporting programs to fund the U.S. response to HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis – and voted for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2003 and 2008. He lauded the bill, saying, “The Bible tells us, ‘to whom much is given, much is expected,’ and I believe the United States has a moral obligation to lead the world in confronting the pandemic of HIV/AIDS.” He added that the threat posed by HIV/AIDS “to our security is also real” and that it could “undermine the stability of nations throughout the third world, leaving behind collapsing economies and tragedy and desperation – a breeding ground for extremist violence.”
In the area of funding for international affairs programs, Pence’s record is mixed. During his time in the House, he voted for overall funding for international affairs but supported some amendments to cut individual programs, including for the UN, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and emergency food aid.
When Pence chaired the influential Republican Study Committee (RSC) from 2005 to 2006, the RSC budget resolution proposed significant cuts to the International Affairs Budget. The accompanying report language called for the elimination of USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and other development agencies. Conversely, he voted for the creation of the MCC in 2003 and against an amendment to eliminate funding for the agency in 2004.
As Governor, Pence actively promoted Indiana’s engagement in the global economy. Through the Indiana Economic Development Foundation, he traveled on trade missions with Indiana businesses to Canada, China, Germany, Israel, Japan, and the United Kingdom.
Image: Gage Skidmore / CC