Source: Politico Magazine | Susan Glasser | February 13, 2017
For the second episode of Politico Magazine’s Susan B. Glasser’s new podcast, The Global Politico, she sat down with Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A transcript of Glasser and Corker’s conversation, and the podcast, follows:
And I was thinking about that on the way up here to Capitol Hill on this beautiful morning that,
Hello, I’m Susan Glasser. Thank you for joining us again on The Global POLITICO. I’m absolutely delighted to have Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as one of our very earliest guests on this podcast. He is someone I’ve been wanting to speak to during this three weeks, which seems in many ways like three years, of the Trump administration.
One of the missions of The Global POLITICO is to take people behind the scenes and into the stories that are driving global politics, but from people who are sitting in the chair, who are not just pundits, who are not just analyzing things. And I can think of few people in Washington who both have this global view that Senator Corker has, but also are really watching this transition actually happen in real time.
And I was thinking about that on the way up here to Capitol Hill on this beautiful morning that, you know, in the Obama era it meant one thing to be the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Republicans controlled the Senate and you were in a way, sort of a key interlocutor between this Democratic administration and the Republicans who run things up here in the Senate.
Now, in the last three weeks, we’ve seen, of course, a Republican takeover of all the branches of government and yet the job in some ways has changed significantly, especially since we’re all still trying to figure out what exactly is the Trump administration foreign policy.
Glasser: So much to discuss. Senator Corker, thank you so much for being with us this morning. Let’s just jump right in. An “America First” foreign policy, that’s what President Donald Trump promised us. We don’t really know what it means exactly yet in a practical sense. You have a Republican majority here on your committee and in the Senate overall, but on Russia, on NATO, on trade and various other issues, it seems to me that Trump and the Senate Republicans couldn’t in some ways be farther apart. How does the circle get squared?
Corker: First of all, thanks for having me, and I appreciate you doing this. I think it’s a great public service to talk with people in this manner. So look, I have foreign leaders in my office every day, multiple folks in yesterday, and they’re all trying to discern that too. They’re here to understand what their relationship is going to be with the United States and this president and this administration.
And so here’s to me the best and most healthy way of looking at it. There are nuggets in each of these statements and proclamations that have a root that is real. Just like with NATO—I spent yesterday with my counterpart from Germany and a couple days ago the foreign minister from Germany. And I’ll be in Munich next weekend at the Munich Security Conference.
But with NATO, there is an issue there. And we have countries that we’ve had a relationship with for a long time that are not contributing the amount that they’re supposed to contribute to NATO. So, that nugget has been there. Madeleine Albright has been before our committee complaining about it. I complain about it every year. And finally, there’s a president that’s making a big deal out of that. I actually think that’s a healthy thing, as long as we continue to understand the strong importance of the NATO alliance, and what it means to our own security. What it means to the world’s security.
So, in each of these cases, what I see happening is an evolution. OK? Where you have someone who was, you know, on a campaign trail. His focus group was these rallies that were taking place. He heard himself say things, and he could see the crowd respond. And in many cases there was again, that nugget that is a root of something that’s real. But over time it can be refined and evolved into something that actually creates a good policy. So NATO would be an example.
You know, the trade issue—I traveled with him one day for reasons that you’re aware of, and you know, in trade, look, we have 4½ percent of the world’s population in America. We’ve got 22 percent of the world’s economic output. And if we want the standard of living for Americans to continue to grow we’ve got to do business with people around the world.
And so to me, trade is an important thing. At the same time, are there some anomalies that exist? Look, we recruited a lot of car manufacturing to our state. We are aware that in some cases we’re competing directly with Mexico for lots of reasons, whether it’s a tariff reason or a labor reason. There’s no question that our state’s resources have been spent in incentive agreements and other kinds of things to overcome those things.
So, there is a little bit of a something there that needs to be addressed. I think we’ve got a president in Mexico that’s willing to address that. And I had the Canadian foreign minister in yesterday—