Some have dismissed my assertion that Donald Trump represents the No. 1 security threat to the United States today as “hyperbole.” It’s not. It’s simply reality — because Trump is the most radical and most ignorant major-party presidential candidate in our history. Examples of both characteristics were on ample display during his latest foreign policy interview with the New York Times.

All you have to know about Trump is that he proudly asserts that his foreign policy is “America First.” When Ted Cruz used the same description, one could imagine it was a dog whistle because this Princeton and Harvard Law graduate presumably knows that “America First” was the isolationist, Nazi-sympathizing movement led by Charles Lindbergh before World War II. In Trump’s case, it’s no doubt an accurate reflection of his quasi-isolationist philosophy and also of his almost limitless ignorance. He probably hasn’t heard of the original “America First,” and now seems eager to repeat all of its errors. For example, he called NATO — the most successful alliance in history and one that is still vital to America’s defense — “obsolete.” Spoken like a true, if unconscious, disciple of Lindbergh.

A few other reflections on Trump’s bewildering answers to the Times’ questions:

Trump is the most pessimistic candidate about the future of America that we have seen since Jimmy Carter. Carter was widely panned for an infamous speech he gave in 1979. In what was known as the “malaise” speech (although he didn’t use that word), he spoke of a “crisis of confidence” gripping America, and the president seemed to be one of those lacking confidence. The election of the sunny and successful Ronald Reagan was a rebuke to this gloomy thinking. But Trump trashes the country in a way that makes Carter seem Pollyannaish by comparison.

In the Times interview, Trump said, “We’re a country that doesn’t have money, “we’re not a rich country,” “we’re a debtor nation,” “we have a military that’s severely depleted,” “we’re becoming a third-world nation.” Strange assertions to make considering that the United States still has the largest economy in the world (GDP of $17.4 trillion in 2014), the fifth-highest highest per-capita income ($55,000, behind only tiny Luxembourg, Switzerland, Qatar and Norway), an innovative technology sector that leads the world, the best-funded and most capable military in the world, an abundance of natural resources including oil, and fewer demographic problems than confront our industrialized competitors. Trump complains that “we fund disproportionately” NATO, the UN and other international organizations; he doesn’t seem to realize that we are the largest donor because we are also the richest country.

Trump’s doom-and-gloom philosophy is all the more unconvincing given that he was saying pretty much the same thing during the 1980s when America was winning the Cold War and was at the pinnacle of its power. It is a mystery why so many Republican voters are drawn to a candidate who so consistently and so unfairly bad-mouths the country he hopes to lead without acknowledging any of its strengths.

Trump has no idea what’s in the federal budget. “One of the reasons we’re a debtor nation, we spend so much on the military, but the military isn’t for us. The military is to be policeman for other countries. And to watch over other countries,” he says, suggesting that the federal budget deficit is caused by excessive military spending to defend ungrateful allies. Reality check: The entire defense budget — of which only a small portion goes to troops stationed abroad — constitutes just 16% of the federal budget.

You would have to eliminate the entire defense budget to eliminate the deficit — and even then you wouldn’t make much of a dent in our $19 trillion debt. The real driver of the debt is entitlement spending, which makes it all the more curious that Trump has promised not to tamper with the programs that are actually bankrupting us.

Trump is not just ignorant, but aggressively so. Even when better-informed interlocutors (a category that includes just about anyone that Trump talks to) try to set him straight about his errors of fact, he refuses to admit he is wrong or correct himself. The Times interview provided two glaring examples.

First, Trump complained that after signing the nuclear deal Iran is “buying from everybody but the United States.” Times correspondent David Sanger interjected:  “Our law prevents us from selling to them, sir.” Trump: “Uh, excuse me?” Sanger: “Our law prevents us from selling any planes or, we still have sanctions in the U.S. that would prevent the U.S. from being able to sell that equipment.” Trump: “So, how stupid is that? We give them the money, and we now say, “Go buy Airbus instead of Boeing,” right? So how stupid is that?” Actually, it’s not so stupid since we have sanctions in place on Iran because of its support of terrorism and illegal testing of ballistic missiles. Is Trump implying that he’d like to lift those sanctions? Or is he simply unaware that they exist?

Another example of Trump’s ignorance: He said not once, not twice, not three times, but four times that “Iran is the No. 1 trading partner of North Korea.” Finally, Sanger challenged him: “Mr. Trump with all due respect, I think it’s China that’s the No. 1 trading partner with North Korea.” Trump’s insouciant reply: “I’ve heard that certainly, but I’ve also heard from other sources that it’s Iran.” What sources does Trump have in mind? It would be great if he would cite them, since every source I have seen — e.g. the CIA Fact Book and CNN — asserts that some 70% of North Korean trade is conducted with China and 20% with South Korea and most of the rest with India and the EU. Iran barely registers beyond serving as a destination for some North Korean missile sales. Far from being North Korea’s top trading partner, Iran is probably one of the smallest.

Trump seems to think he is entitled not only to his own opinion but to his own facts. He not only doesn’t know much, but he also doesn’t know what he doesn’t know — and he’s made no effort to educate himself. That’s a dangerous combination in someone who aspires to the most powerful job in the world.

Trump is highly selective and even deceptive in his citation of history. This is especially a concern since history provides the storehouse of information and ideas upon which statesmen act.

Asked to cite a period of U.S. history that he would like to emulate, Trump said the post-World War II period: “I would say during the 1940s and the late ‘40s and ‘50s we started getting, we were not pushed around, we were respected by everybody, we had just won a war, we were pretty much doing what we had to do, yeah around that period.”

To anyone who is even superficially familiar with the history of the 1940s, this is a laughable description since during that period the U.S. went from defeat to defeat. Countries from Czechoslovakia to China fell to the Communists. The Soviet Union tested a nuclear weapon. North Korea invaded South Korea. Republicans accused Harry Truman of losing the nascent Cold War, even claiming that his administration was riddled with “Reds.” Only Trump could possibly think that this was a halcyon period for the U.S. In fact, the U.S. is in a far stronger position today than it was in the late 1940s. Perhaps Trump wouldn’t be so gloomy about the outlook for today if he knew a little more about the problems we faced in the past.

Trump rejects counter-proliferation — trying to stop the spread of nuclear weapons — that has been a bedrock of U.S. policy since 1945. He is hostile to the continued U.S. troop presence in South Korea and Japan, which he views entirely as a favor to those countries — as if we didn’t have any interest in deterring North Korea and China and keeping the peace in Asia, the fastest-growing part of the world. Of course, if the U.S. abandons South Korea and Japan, both are likely to go nuclear, setting off a nuclear arms race with Beijing and Seoul.

Trump is fine with that — “You may very well be better off if that’s the case.” Clearly he has no awareness of the Cuban Missile Crisis and no qualms about risking a repeat in Asia. Yet he says that he “nuclear capability” is “the single biggest problem” in the world. This is yet another example of his incoherence: If he were truly concerned about “nuclear capability,” he would stick to the traditional U.S. policy of trying to limit the number of nuclear-weapons states instead of encouraging new ones.

Trump has added a new country to the list of allies he wants to jettison — Saudi Arabia. He wants the Saudis to “reimburse” the U.S. for the protection we provide and do more to fight ISIS; apparently he is unaware that the Saudis actually do want to be more, but can’t get any support from President Obama. If Saudi Arabia doesn’t do as Trump proposes, he suggests cutting off U.S. support. He knows this would result in a “catastrophic failure” in the Kingdom, but he doesn’t seem to care: “Without the cloak of American protection … I don’t think it would be around.” And what would replace the Saudi monarchy? The worst-case scenario would be the rise of an al-Qaeda or ISIS in Riyadh and an Iranian power grab in the eastern oil fields. That would be a strategic disaster for the U.S. and our allies, but Trump would rather risk that fiasco than continue to provide protection to the Kingdom — for which, by the way, it pays a hefty price tag in American weapons sales that create lots of defense-industry jobs.

Trump thinks that lack of predictability is a virtue while ignoring the need for predictability in international affairs. In the Times interview, asked for policy specifics regarding China policy, he said, “There’s such, total predictability of this country, and it’s one of the reasons we do so poorly. You know, I’d rather not say that. I would like to see what they’re doing.” One suspects that his praise of unpredictability is merely a tactic so that he doesn’t have to provide answers that he doesn’t have. But if he’s serious, he is trying to emulate Richard Nixon’s “madman” theory. Nixon thought that by suggesting he was capable of anything, even irrational acts, he would coerce North Vietnam into ending its aggression against South Vietnam. It didn’t work then, and won’t work now.

There is, of course, a case to be made for some imprecision in deterrence — to let the enemy wonder what exactly you would do in a crisis. But there is also a strong case to be made for general predictability so as to avoid a catastrophe that could have been averted if the adversary had a better read of your intentions. World War I started in large part because Wilhelmine Germany did not expect Great Britain to come to the defense of Belgium and France. The Korean War started in part because Dean Acheson said that South Korea was outside the U.S. defense perimeter, thereby inviting Kim Il-sung to invade. Trump seems to be unaware of these historical errors and appears bent on repeating them.

Trump can’t be trusted on Israel. He gave an OK speech to AIPAC — to be more exact, he read an OK ghost-written speech — but the Times interview showed his heart isn’t in it. At one point he refused to commit to a “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. “I’m not saying anything. What I’m going to do is, you know, I specifically don’t want to address the issue because I would love to see if a deal could be made.” Trump doesn’t seem to realize that the alternative to a two-state solution is a one-state solution that would mean the end of Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.

Presumably, someone clued him in between his first and second conversations with the Times, because the second time around he retreated to his AIPAC stance: “Basically I support a two-state solution on Israel. But the Palestinian Authority has to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Have to do that.”

What will he say tomorrow? Who knows? After all, he stresses his unpredictability, which would leave every American ally, including Israel, guessing as to whether he would stand with them in the clutch.

In sum, it is hard to come away from his Times interview — which comes just a week after his interview with the Washington Post editorial board, which was just as bizarre — without concluding that Trump is singularly unqualified to be commander-in-chief. Handing him the nuclear codes would be the riskiest and most irresponsible act imaginable. With Trump in command, our enemies would have a field day — Moscow and Beijing must be licking their chops at his desire to abandon U.S. allies in Europe and Asia — and our friends would face mortal threats. If that isn’t the single biggest threat to U.S. security, I don’t know what is.

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