A former senior White House official who has served both Democratic and Republican administrations said he’s concerned about the foreign policy teams assembled by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
Richard A. Clarke, a counterterrorism expert who worked in high-level positions for former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, said the foreign-policy advisers of Republican presidential candidates Trump and Cruz aren’t credible.
“None of them have any credibility in the business,” Clarke said at a Center on National Security conference at Fordham Law School on Tuesday. “These are the people who escaped from the loony bin. They’re a laughingstock. And it’s not funny.”
Foreign-policy experts have widely criticised the teams of Trump and Cruz, who have both raised eyebrows with various positions throughout the campaign cycle.
Alan Rappeport wrote for The New York Times that when Trump named his foreign policy advisers, “the Republican foreign policy establishment looked at them and had a pretty universal reaction: Who?”
While most of Trump’s advisers are relatively unknown, one of them, Walid Phares, is often accused of being an Islamaphobe, The Times noted. Another adviser, George Papadopoulos, listed his participation in the 2012 Model United Nations on his resume.
Cruz’s foreign-policy team has elicited similar concern. Some of his advisers have been described as anti-Muslim, and several experts on his team work for a think tank that the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as a hate group, according to The Washington Post.
Clarke noted Tuesday that since some presidential candidates don’t have much foreign-policy experience, whom they appoint to their advisory teams is crucially important. Bill Clinton, he said, also didn’t have a lot of national-security experience, but Clarke argued he brought in a good team.
The same cannot be said of Trump and Cruz so far, Clarke said.
“If one of them became president and had that group of national-security advisers, we’d be in deep trouble,” he concluded.
While Trump has frequently promised to hire the “best” people, it’s unclear who would serve in a theoretical Trump administration if he were to win the presidency. Many establishment hands have expressed reluctance to join a Trump White House, and more than 100 GOP national-security experts signed an open letter last month opposing Trump’s candidacy for president.
Both Trump and Cruz have been criticised for their proposed policies — Trump has suggested barring Muslims from entering the US until the terrorism problem is under control, and Cruz has advocated carpet-bombing to defeat the terrorist group ISIS (also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, or Daesh).
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