Niall Ferguson isn’t known for his love of Democrats.
The Harvard historian has been giving President Obama grief for years, both for his economic foreign policy as well as his handling of the economy. But the former adviser to John McCain’s presidential campaign probably won’t be pulling for a Republican president come November, at least if Donald Trump can clinch the GOP nomination.
During a panel discussion at the Milken Institute Global Conference on Monday, called “Global Risk: Challenges for the Next President,” Ferguson all but stumped for Hillary Clinton. After Tennessee Senator Bob Corker suggested that Trump deserved an “attaboy” for pushing for a more realistic foreign policy in a recent speech, Ferguson shot back that he thought Trump’s latest foreign policy speech was was “anything but reassurance,” and plenty dangerous.
“This is one of those speeches that contains fifty percent sense to lull you into agreement,” said Ferguson. “But when you look at the other fifty percent it still implies trade war with China, and it still implies a fundamental questioning of NATO itself.” Ferguson said that the idea that Trump would be looking to make a great deal Vladimir Putin is truly scary.
Earlier in the day, Ferguson said on Bloomberg TV that the chance that Trump will become president is the “big global risk of the U.S. election that dwarfs all other risks out there.”
Nonetheless, for Ferguson, even more frightening that a Trump-Putin partnership is the deleterious effect a Trump Administration would have on U.S.-China relations. He suggested that armed conflict between the first and second largest economies could lead to another World War One:
Where were we 100 years ago? The rising power went to war the incumbent power. What we must avoid in the 21st century is a rerun of that with China in the role of Germany and the United States in the role of Great Britain. We must ask ourselves in this election: which candidate is more likely to maintain a harmonious relationship with the second most important power in the world and which is more likely to enter into conflict in it? And I know in my mind which candidate is which.
The revulsion with which a figure like Ferguson greets a potential Trump presidency is yet more evidence that the conservative establishment will not enthusiastically support his bid for the White House, even if he is able to lock up the nomination in coming weeks.