EXCERPTED FROM ‘THE ORIENTAL ECONOMIST’ – Michael Green, the prominent and respected former George W. Bush foreign-policy adviser, on why he will vote for Hillary Clinton in November: “… During the primaries, I worked for Jeb Bush, and I briefed him on Asia. I was never going to vote for Trump, let alone work for him. I wrote op-eds saying why he was wrong on allies, in saying he would meet [North Korean dictator] Kim Jong-un, and in opposing TPP [the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement]. Like others in my position, I assumed that more moderate and reason- able leaders in the party, like [Senator] John McCain or [House Speaker] Paul Ryan, would eventually coax Trump into a more acceptable track….
“And the Japanese and Australians and Koreans tried, and failed, to find someone in the Trump camp they could talk to. After Trump won the nomination, he doubled down on his reckless comments and demonstrated a complete narcissistic unwillingness to learn from anyone about any complex problem.… Traveling abroad for months really brought home how much damage Trump had already done to our credibility in Asia.
“I went to Kenyon College in Ohio, which was a conservative kind of liberal arts college. And a lot of my classmates, who are doctors or small businessmen, were all for Trump three months ago, but now they are all walking away from him. Trump is losing support among college-educated white males. On the other hand, he still does fine with whites with less college education.
“On the national security picture, especially on Asia, Hillary Clinton was quite an effective and good Secretary of State. Her views are not that different from Republicans on the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, especially on Asia. She made mistakes, but she demonstrated a competence and an instinct for American interests that is just completely missing from Trump.
“On the economic side, however, her proposals have moved to the left of where the mainstream Democratic Party used to be. Trump’s economic policy is just completely unrealistic. But a lot of people who have been signing the [anti-Trump] National Security letters are not joining the Clinton campaign, in part because she is opposing TPP. And you know, you’ll notice that all of her advisors have gone silent regarding TPP.
“… Initially, she tried to keep her [TPP] options open. Then, when Trump won the nomination, she and her political advisors decided, ‘There is no halfway on this. You have to be for it or against it, and we have got to say she is against it.’ So when you had people like the governor of Virginia, or senior foreign policy advisors around her speak out in favor of TPP, they were publicly or privately shut down.
“What the policy advisors in the campaign say is: ‘She is going to do a complete review that will be very strategic and take into account the voices that want her to get TPP done.’ It’s completely unconvincing. Fortunately, she has not said she would ‘renegotiate’ it. The many internationalists around her are holding out hope that she would get some changes via ‘side letters,’ that don’t require changing the approved text of the agreement itself. Frankly, Obama probably should have done some side letters to get this through Congress in the first place. The problem is: will she be able to attract somebody good to be US Trade Representative (USTR) after this presidential campaign? People around her say it’ll be less than a year before she’ll get around to reviewing TPP…. In terms of foreign policy and strategy in Asia, not passing TPP would be a huge self-inflicted wound.
Note: Foreign-policy careerist Michael Green served President George W. Bush on the staff of the National Security Council (NSC) during 2001-05, eventually becoming special assistant to the president for national security affairs with responsibility for East Asia and South Asia. He was one of 50 former security officials in Republican administrations who signed a letter on August 8 arguing that Donald Trump “lacks the character, values and experience” to be President and “would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.” Then, on August 8, he was one of eight former Republican administration security officials dealing with Asia who went further and endorsed Hillary Clinton. The above comments by Michael Green, associate professor of international relations at Georgetown University, represent excerpts from a much longer and extremely valuable interview in the latest (Sept.) issue of The Oriental Economist (http://www.orientaleconomist.com), the monthly political newsletter focused on Japan and Asia that serves an influential English-reading readership of journalists, professors and government officials. We thank TOE for permission to excerpt.