After terror attacks in Brussels and a weekend of escalated violence in the Middle East, GOP candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz doubled down on their xenophobic policies Sunday. “I don’t think America is a safe place for Americans,” Trump told ABC News’ This Week. “We’re allowing thousands of people to come in here. Nobody knows where they’re from.”
But statements such as these — as well as Cruz’s modest proposal to surveil Muslim communities — are hurting the United States’ image in the international community. According to Secretary of State John Kerry, the rhetoric surrounding this year’s GOP race is putting world leaders on edge.
“Everywhere I go, every leader I meet, they ask about what is happening in America,” Kerry told CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday. “They cannot believe it. I think it is fair to say that they’re shocked. They don’t know where it’s taking the United States of America. And to some degree I must say to you, some of the questions, the way they’re posed to me, it’s clear to me that what’s happening is an embarrassment to our country.”
Although Kerry didn’t refer to anyone by name, Trump and Cruz are the two candidates with the most overtly “shocking” policy proposals, and even some of Trump’s less-horrific ideas are unprecedented. For instance, in a lengthy interview with the New York Times about his foreign-policy agenda Friday, Trump told reporters he’s “not isolationist,” but he’s “America first.” “We will not be ripped off anymore,” he said of his pronouncement that U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia should pay to keep American forces on their soil.
He would also like to end other agreements and organizations he deems “unfair” such as NATO, China’s access to American markets, and oil purchases from Saudi Arabia. Japan and South Korea, he said, should be allowed to build up their nuclear arsenals rather than rely on American weapons. And our “one-sided” security pact with Japan ought to be scrutinized as well.
Stances such as these “upset people’s sense of equilibrium about [America’s] steadiness, about our reliability,” Kerry said. In other words, even if Trump isn’t elected, his statements on the campaign trail might be enough to change America’s relationship with foreign countries. At least we’ll always have Canada.