The Cable

Battleground ’16: How the Hell Did We Get Here?

From Syria hawks' revenge to nervous world markets to what's next for Ukraine, how 2016 has upended foreign policy politics.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump supporter, William Peterson, wears a colorful shirt showing his support of Trump, while he waits in line outside of the Jefferson County Fairgrounds - Rodeo Arena & Event Center, prior to Trump's campaign rally in Golden, Colorado on October 29, 2016.  / AFP / Jason Connolly        (Photo credit should read JASON CONNOLLY/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump supporter, William Peterson, wears a colorful shirt showing his support of Trump, while he waits in line outside of the Jefferson County Fairgrounds - Rodeo Arena & Event Center, prior to Trump's campaign rally in Golden, Colorado on October 29, 2016. / AFP / Jason Connolly (Photo credit should read JASON CONNOLLY/AFP/Getty Images)

Rewind to the 2008 presidential election. Both Democratic primary candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee John McCain slam their opponent, Barack Obama, as “irresponsible and frankly naive” for saying he would sit down with the rogue leaders of renegade nations such as Syria and North Korea.

Fast forward four years later to the 2012 presidential race. The then-GOP standard bearer, Mitt Romney, assesses Russia as the United States’ “No. 1 geopolitical foe,” and Democratic President Obama mocks him, saying, “The 1980s, they’re now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

Jump to the 2016 presidential election, and press play. Donald Trump, the reality-TV-show-host-turned-Republican nominee, says, “I don’t know Putin. He said nice things about me. If we got along well, that would be good.” But Trump derides now-Democratic nominee Clinton’s plans for the Syria conflict that he says would “lead to World War III” with Russia.  

Pause — how the hell did we get here? The 2016 presidential election has upended the politics of American foreign policy. Despite a perceived poll tightening, Trump still looks likely to lose. But with the Democrat taking the tougher stand on national security, Republicans may be flailing for years to reestablish themselves as a party of hawks.

Sign up for FP’s Editors’ Picks newsletter here to receive Battleground ’16, our take on the presidential race, each Wednesday through November.


 

The 2016 Election Turned the Politics of Foreign Policy on Its Head

Clinton is the hawk this year, Trump the isolationist. Can a warring GOP win back the “strong on defense” mantle — and the White House?

In the 2016 presidential election, one candidate is advocating a forceful U.S. foreign policy, strengthening international alliances, confronting Russia, and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. And the other candidate is the Republican.

 


 

“We don’t operate on innuendo, we don’t operate on incomplete information, we don’t operate on leaks.”

 President Barack Obama weighed in for the first time on Wednesday on FBI Director James Comey’s announcement to members of Congress that he is revisiting the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

 


 

The Blob Is Back: The Revenge of the Syria Hawks

With Obama leaving, Washington’s foreign-policy brain trust sees a fresh opportunity to take the fight to Assad.

Barack Obama’s presidency sent Washington’s foreign-policy hawks, or “the Blob,” as White House aide Ben Rhodes once disparagingly called them, into the wilderness. But the Blob is back, facing its best opportunity in eight years to push for a greater U.S. military role in the Middle East, this time in Syria.

 


 

Nervous World Markets Signal a Real Possibility of a Trump Win

It only took one poll showing Trump with a one-point advantage to freak out financiers around the world.

 


 

+22m

A week from Election Day on Nov. 8, more than 22 million people have already voted.

 


 

What Will Ukraine Do Without Uncle Joe?

Vice President Joe Biden led the administration’s support of Ukraine. But Kiev worries whether the next White House will have its back as Putin looks to ramp up pressure.

Sign up for FP’s Editors’ Picks newsletter here to receive Battleground ’16, our take on the presidential race, each Wednesday through November.

Photo credit: ASON CONNOLLY/AFP/Getty Images

Molly O’Toole is a senior reporter at Foreign Policy, covering immigration, refugees, and national security. She was FP’s sole 2016 presidential campaign reporter, on the trail from New Hampshire to Nevada. Previously, she covered the politics of national security for Atlantic Media’s Defense One, where she reported from Congress, the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department. Before that, she was a news editor at the Huffington Post. Molly has also reported on national and international politics for Reuters, the Nation, The Associated Press, and Newsweek International, among others, from Washington, New York, Mexico City, and London. She received her dual master’s degree in journalism and international relations from New York University and her bachelor’s from Cornell University and in 2016 was a grant recipient of the International Women’s Media Foundation. She will always be a Californian. @mollymotoole

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