Editor’s Note: The Axe Files, featuring David Axelrod, is a podcast distributed by CNN and produced at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. The author works for the podcast.
President Donald Trump has weakened our national security and endangered US troops with actions that are “un-American, anti-American and very dangerous,” charges former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
“If this … anti-immigrant rhetoric and the executive order that came out was supposed to protect us, it has done the opposite,” Albright told David Axelrod on “The Axe Files,” a podcast from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN. “Frankly, it’s a great recruiting tool for ISIS.”
By targeting Iraqis on whose help American troops are relying in the battle against ISIS, Albright said, Trump has created a disincentive to cooperate. And the ban will make it more difficult to collect intelligence from all of targeted countries, she said.
In an unusually harsh broadside, Albright, who served as America’s top diplomat under President Bill Clinton, condemned Trump’s nationalist, America First approach, which she predicted could do lasting damage to the country.
“Our way of life is totally dependent on having partners in other countries,” she said. “By saying that we’re going to pull up the drawbridge and be hostile towards those that are different … has been very shortsighted. And we will suffer, our economy will suffer, our capability of competing in a number of different ways, and of being leaders.”
Albright said that the rocky implementation of the January 27 travel ban, which created turmoil at airports around the globe before being blocked by the courts, reflected a lack of knowledge and experience in the White House.
“It … was rolled out in a way that showed the complete lack of understanding of the US government by the Trump administration in terms of no coordination,” said the former secretary of state.
Albright had just returned to Washington from Europe, where she attended the Munich Security Conference, at which several top officials of the Trump administration spoke. The mixed signals from the Trump administration regarding NATO have left America’s European allies concerned and confused, she said.
“Even though Vice President (Mike) Pence came and (Defense) Secretary (James) Mattis was there saying that we were committed to NATO, people would come up to me and say, ‘Well, fine words, but what are the actions? What’s really going to happen here?’ ” she said.
Albright charged that the President and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, are hostile to the European Union and share with Russia a desire to see the EU dissolve.
“I think what Vladimir Putin wants is to make sure that the European Union falls apart, that there is a zone of influence for Russia in Eastern Europe,” she said. “I think that whether Trump knows it or not, his approach to Europe is similar to Putin’s.
“Trump identifies in some ways with the nationalist kind of identity issue that Putin has done in Russia, and he wants to emulate that. But I do find it weird, I have to say.”
A strong supporter of Hillary Clinton’s during the 2016 presidential campaign, Albright listed several reasons for Clinton’s loss, including flawed polling, depressed turnout and an over reliance on what worked in the past.
“One can’t look at models that worked in a previous election,” she said.