What history may tell us about Donald Trump’s views on foreign policy

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He was a well-known businessman who became a politician. He was almost universally hated by the politicians he worked with and the citizens that he would be sworn to serve, and he was especially known for his lack of tact, his lies, his bullying, his corruption, and his incapability of seeing other viewpoints.

And he ultimately helped to lead Germany into World War II.

Now, when you read that first paragraph, you might have been thinking about Donald Trump. At least, I hope you were, as that is the parallel I am attempting to create. But the man I am referring to is Joachim Von Ribbentrop, who is infamous for his tenure as Foreign Minister for the NSDAP (Nazi Germany) from 1938 to 1945.

Ribbentrop, by almost all accounts, was an extremely insufferable and incompetent man. As foreign minister, his bullying tactics caused him to he hated by the diplomats he worked with, and made Germany even more of an isolated country. He was described as “the leading Nazi that all other Nazis hated.” Joseph Goebbels, who was the propaganda minister for the Nazi regime, said that “Von Ribbentrop bought his name, he married his money and he swindled his way into office”, which was an accurate assessment. Ribbentrop’s private home was even used as a base for the meetings for the planning that would put Adolf Hitler in office, which is one of the reasons he became a leader in the Nazi party.

If Donald Trump were to become President of the United States (which, at this point, is a very real possibility), we would potentially have another Ribbentrop on our hands. From demanding that Mexico build a border wall, from praising Vladimir Putin for his abuse of journalists in Russia, to generally acting like a one-man army who wants to kick ass first and take (pre-moderated only, please) questions later, Donald Trump is basing his potential foreign policy on pretty much what Joachim von Ribbentrop has already done. Which was a nationalistic foreign policy based on acting unilaterally, with no regard for sovereign rights, while disregarding current and historic spheres of influence.

Ribbentrop, after Germany’s defeat in 1945, was captured by Allied forces and sentenced to death for his knowledge and participation in the Jewish Holocaust atrocities. Even on his deathbed, he said that “even with what (he) already knows, if Adolf Hitler was to come to (his) cell and say do this, (he) would still do it”. Needless to say, he died an unrepentant man, and was the first Nazi leader in a long line of many to  be executed by Allied forces.

There is, of course, one fundamental difference between Ribbentrop and Trump: Ribbentrop was put into power by his peers in a dictatorship, while Trump may become president due to the votes of U.S. citizens. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen, but history should make us cautious enough to be wary of the consequences.

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