I enjoy Noah Smith’s blog; he has particularly good and well-written insights on macroeconomics.
Yet his latest blog post, on the implications of a Donald Trump Presidency, is symptomatic of a wider phenomenon: otherwise intelligent people hurling reason to the wind when it comes to the President-elect.
In brief, Noah argues that the biggest threat Trump poses is that of World War III. Noah states his own view without citing any evidence. For example, he writes the following:
Strongmen are decisive and can get things done, but they’re also unpredictable. A strongman may be for peace one day and war the next. What’s more, strongmen tend to have big egos. Trump is friends with Putin today, but what happens if the two alpha males get into a pissing contest?
Notice that there is no data here – apparently ‘alpha male’ is synonymous with ‘manic depressive.’ This is the essence of his ludicrous argument.
(The few sources he does cite are provided without context. Yes, Russia has ‘rattled its saber’ in the Baltics, though this is unsurprising given Turkey’s stupid decision to shoot down a Russian fighter jet.)
In fact, the available evidence strongly suggests the opposite: that a Hillary Clinton Presidency would have been more belligerent and jingoistic.
I submit to you the following exhibits:
- Hillary wanted a no-fly zone in Syria, which is a tacit declaration of war against Russia.
- She ‘pressed the Obama administration to intervene militarily in Libya, with consequences that have gone far beyond the fall of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.’
- Her diplomatic skills are terrible. How does likening Putin to Hitler encourage peace?
- Clinton’s link with hawkish neoconservatives like Robert Kagan is well-documented.
- She pushed for more military intervention in Syria, including sending weapons to dubious rebels.
Donald Trump may have some radical ideas, but even Jill Stein said that she finds his foreign policy less scary. I would have to agree.
I share Noah’s concerns about a bipolar or multipolar world, but arguments and debates should involve reasoned discussion, not speculative scaremongering.