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August 16, 2016

Trump calls for end to nation-building with national security plan

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Essential question

How does a presidential candidate’s stance on foreign affairs influence how voters cast their ballot?


With just over 80 days left until Election Day, the candidates continue to trade criticism and suggest the other is unqualified for the presidency.

Presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump made the rounds in battleground states this week while discussing foreign policy and national security.

On Monday in Youngstown, Ohio, Republican nominee Trump outlined his plan to make the United States safer by becoming less involved in conflicts overseas.

“If I become president, the era of nation-building will be brought to a very swift and decisive end,” Trump said.

Trump also said he would partner with any nation fighting the Islamic State — including Syrian President and U.S. adversary Bashar al-Assad — and develop a new system of “extreme vetting” to background checks for immigrants in order to prevent radicals from entering the country.

Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign continues to use Trump’s past remarks on foreign policy against him by suggesting that his brash style would make him an undiplomatic choice.


Key terms

battleground state — another term for swing state, a U.S. state where the two major political parties have similar levels of support among voters, viewed as important in determining the overall result of a presidential election

nation-building — constructing a national identity using the power of the state

Warm up questions (before watching the video)
  1. What key issues are likely to comprise a presidential candidates’ national security plan?
  2. What do you think the term “nation-building” means?
  3. What do you know about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s national security plans?
Critical thinking questions (after watching the video)
  1. Presidential candidates put out platforms on key issues like foreign policy and the economy. What are some ways you can make an informed decision regarding whose policy you support?
  2. Trump’s foreign policy plan envisions the U.S. becoming more aggressive in the fight against ISIS but generally less involved overseas. Is it possible to do both? Explain your answer.
  3. Do you think Clinton’s capitalizing on Trump’s lack of foreign affairs’ experience will help her to gain voters? Explain.
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