A broad range of Jewish Republican national security experts all united behind one message Monday: Donald Trump would be “dangerous” in the Oval Office.
More than a dozen Jewish former officials who served in Republican administrations joined in an open letter from 50 prominent Republican experts that characterized the Republican candidate as a national security risk.
“Most fundamentally, Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be President. He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world. He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws, and U.S. institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary,” the letter said.
The Jewish signatories feature mostly so-called “Neocons,” who advocate for the active promotion of democracy and American interests abroad, from the George W. Bush administration, including former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and David Kramer, an assistant secretary of state under Bush. But foreign policy realists like Vice President Dick Cheney’s former assistant deputy on national security Aaron Friedberg also signed the letter.
At times, the letter read like a laundry list of recent Trump critiques, and in certain places echoed criticisms that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been lobbing at her opponent with effect.
“He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be President and Commander-in-Chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal,” it said.
During her convention speech, Clinton targeted Trump’s temperament, saying, “A man who can be baited with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.” In recent weeks, the Trump campaign was put on the defensive following a report that the candidate allegedly asked a foreign policy adviser why the U.S. couldn’t use its nukes.
Trump blasted the former officials in a statement, rightfully noting that many were architects of the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq and the counterinsurgency later in the war.
“The names on this letter are the ones the American people should look to for answers on why the world is a mess, and we thank them for coming forward so everyone in the country knows who deserves the blame for making the world such a dangerous place,” the statement said. “They are nothing more than the failed Washington elite looking to hold onto their power, and it’s time they are held accountable for their actions.”
Both Hillary Clinton, as a New York senator, and Donald Trump, as a private citizen, supported the invasion of Iraq in 2002. While Clinton apologized for her vote authorizing the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq, calling it “a mistake,” Trump falsely claims to have never supported the war. Trump did begin to question the cost of the invasion several months after it had begun, and is on the record as being opposed to the war by 2004.
While the Iraq War has tarnished several of the authors’ reputations on foreign policy, the letter is also signed by experts who were not involved in the invasion of Iraq, as well as strong supporters of Israel.
Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (who had warned the Bush administration against intervention in Iraq) and former director of national intelligence under Bush, John Negroponte established what was known as the Negroponte doctrine that stated that the U.S. should veto any U.N. resolution that unfairly condemns Israel without condemning the terrorist groups that attack her.
Another prominent Bush official and letter signatory, Robert Blackwill, who served as deputy national security advisor, described Israel as vital to U.S. interests in a 2011 opinion piece in The Los Angeles Times.
However, the authors of the letter made clear that their horror at the idea of a Trump presidency did not wash away serious doubts they had about Clinton.
Despite their concerns about Clinton’s role in foreign policy, the letter’s authors reiterated that voting for Trump was not the solution to America’s problems.
“We are convinced that in the Oval Office, he would be the most reckless President in American history,” the letter concluded.