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

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

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