Hillary Clinton and her allies have been arguing for months that Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit to be president of the United States. Much of the Republican establishment’s foreign policy wing now agrees. On Monday, 50 of the GOP’s most senior national security officials released an open letter warning that Trump is unqualified to be commander in chief and that, if elected, would be “the most reckless” president in U.S. history and “put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”
Among those who signed the letter were a who’s who of the George W. Bush administration’s national security apparatus: Michael Hayden, a retired four-star general who served as director the National Security Agency and later the director of the CIA; John Negroponte, who was the first director of national intelligence and later served as deputy secretary of state; Robert Zoellick, who also served as deputy secretary of state and, more recently, as president of the World Bank; Tom Ridge, who served as the first homeland security secretary; and Michael Chertoff, who succeeded Ridge at DHS. “We know the personal qualities required of a President of the United States,” the group wrote. “None of us will vote for Donald Trump.”
Here’s the most blistering passage in the two-page letter:
Most fundamentally, Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be President. He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world. He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws, and U.S. institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary.
In addition, Mr. Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he has little understanding of America’s vital national interests, its complex diplomatic challenges, its indispensable alliances, and the democratic values on which U.S. foreign policy must be based. At the same time, he persistently compliments our adversaries and threatens our allies and friends. Unlike previous Presidents who had limited experience in foreign affairs, Mr. trump has shown no interest in educating himself. He continues to display an alarming ignorance of basic facts of contemporary international politics. Despite his lack of knowledge, Mr. Trump claims that he understands foreign affairs and “knows more about ISIS than the generals do.”
Trump no doubt will attempt to shrug off the criticism by reminding voters that many of the letter’s signees were among the architects of the Iraq war, something the GOP nominee insists he was against from the start, despite the evidence that suggests otherwise. Still, it’s nonetheless a damning indictment from men and women with far more experience in world affairs than the celebrity businessman. It also comes only weeks after Trump officially became their party’s presidential nominee, and at a time when there are already clear signs of fractures within the GOP’s façade of party unity.
For more on the unique world danger posed by Trump, you can check out Fred Kaplan on how, even if you set aside Trump’s troubling tone, his foreign policy ideas would still count as “the most dangerous, disruptive, self-destructive ideas that any major party’s nominee has peddled in any living American’s memory.”