While there are clear differences between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on national security, as president both would face the same constraints on resources as they attempt to address a multitude of global threats.
The disparity between resources and commitments will require “unbelievably hard choices,” Jim Thomas, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said during a panel discussion Tuesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
In addition to spending caps, a Trump or Clinton administration would share other constraints, including Congress, existing treaties and international pressures.
“There’s always going to be hard limits as to how far [a new president] can go” in changing national security strategy,” Thomas said.
“We’re coming up on some really big, fundamental questions and I don’t think that either candidate so far has even begun to address them,” he added, reported National Defense magazine.
Differences in the candidates’ strategic views on the use of the military are stark. Trump would adopt a unilateral stance for the nation’s foreign policy that calls for dominating through trade negotiations and increasing technological competitiveness and nuclear deterrence forces, said Alex Ward, associate director for the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.
Clinton likely would continue the global engagement strategy she promoted as secretary of state, relying on allies to support U.S. objectives.
Ward summed up the gulf between the two candidates: “Trump will have the political backing and desire to increase military spending for a military that he doesn’t want to use, and Clinton is going to have the desire as well to increase the military spending, but won’t have the political backing for a military she definitely will use.”