The Knoxville News Sentinel included Rich Pacelle, head of the Department of Political Science, and Krista Wiegand, associate professor of political science and national security expert at the Baker Center, in a story examining what the administration of president-elect Donald Trump’s administration would look like.
Pacelle said the debate over Supreme Court nominees was the most important part of the election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to even hold hearings on nominee Merrick Garland was a “brilliant strategy” in hindsight, he said. However, Trump’s alternative would not necessarily tip the ideological balance of the court because Justice Anthony Kennedy, though a conservative, has voted with the panel’s liberal bloc on abortion and gay rights issues. The real fight, he predicted, would be over a second Trump nominee if a justice retires.
Wiegand stressed that on international issues Trump seems to be focused on economic, rather than military interests. His beef with NATO seems more rooted in who pays for defense and not in military necessity. The same could be said for his idea to remove the U.S. military presence from Japan and South Korea, leaving those allies to provide for their own defense. “I think Congress will balk at that and I think the Pentagon, the Department of Defense, will balk at that,” she said.
Trump has talked about renegotiating or withdrawing from international commitments, but Wiegand pointed out that the globalization genie was out of the bottle. “We can’t be an isolationist state,” she said. “We just can’t. This is the 21st century, not the 18th.”