It is an article of Republican faith that President Obama has enfeebled the United States abroad, creating room for Russian military adventures and a growing terrorist threat. On Wednesday night, vice presidential nominee Mike Pence said that Donald Trump was just the man to rectify this state of affairs:
History teaches us that weakness arouses evil. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s foreign policy of leading from behind; moving red lines; feigning reset with Russia; and the rise, rule, and reign of ISIS are a testament of this truth of history. We cannot have four more years apologizing to our enemies and abandoning our friends. America needs to be strong for the world to be safe and on the world stage Donald Trump will lead from strength. Donald Trump will rebuild our military and stand with our allies. [Bolds mine]
Not long before Pence spoke these words, the New York Times published a remarkable article titled, “Donald Trump Plays Down Role of U.S. in Global Crises.” In it, he talked about the need to reduce the cost of our military presence in the world and suggested he might jettison our commitments by possibly refusing to defend our NATO allies if they were attacked, depending on … some vague criteria:
He even called into question whether, as president, he would automatically extend the security guarantees that give the 28 members of NATO the assurance that the full force of the United States military has their back.
For example, asked about Russia’s threatening activities that have unnerved the small Baltic States that are the most recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing whether those nations “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”
In short, Mike Pence said that Donald Trump would stand with our allies right after Donald Trump told the New York Times that he might not stand with our allies. Welcome to the 2016 Republican convention.