Artificial Intelligence

Outside the Box: How Offensive Can Presidential Candidates Get? Part I

Our weekly feature “Outside the Box,” allows us to toss impertinent questions at ChatGPT as we seek to better understand not only how AI “reasons,” but also what its artificial reasoning reveals about our own culture. This time, I asked the machine to tease apart Nikki Haley’s bellicose rhetoric and the still more shocking media silence about it.

Air defense system of USA. Rockets as metaphor for air defense system. America USA flag. Develops next to missiles. American rockets are aimed at sky. Air Defense United States of America. 3d image. © FOTOGRIN /

October 30, 2023 03:05 EDT

At a moment when the US has become involved in two startlingly violent and dangerously ambiguous wars,  Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley announced a major innovation in the executive branch if elected. “It’s not going to be the Department of Defense (DoD); it’s going to be the Department of Offense.”

My first reaction was to think this was a joke, some form of self-parody. But apparently it isn’t. Nikki Haley earnestly wants the populations across the globe to understand that the US is out to conquer you, whoever you are. Perhaps she was inspired by the verse in the final stanza of the Star Spangled Banner: “Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,/And this be our motto — ‘In God is our trust.’”

My many conversations with ChatGPT taught me that this large language model usually tries to steer clear of taking any discernable position on contemporary political issues. But when I asked Bing’s ChatGPT4 this question —  “What does Haley’s proposed renaming of the DoD tell the electorate about the kind of foreign policy she intends to implement?” — the answer was insightful and balanced.

This statement suggests that Haley intends to implement a foreign policy that is more aggressive, interventionist, and unilateral than the current administration. She may seek to use military force as a first resort, rather than a last resort, to deal with threats and challenges around the world. She may also disregard the opinions and interests of allies and partners, and act independently of international institutions and norms.

Haley’s foreign policy vision is consistent with her previous statements and actions as the UN ambassador and as a presidential candidate. She has been a vocal critic of the Biden administration’s policies on Iran, China, Afghanistan, and other issues. She has also advocated for increasing defense spending, strengthening the US nuclear arsenal, and expanding the US military presence in Asia and Europe.

My next question focused not on Haley, who after all has little chance of winning, but on what this tells us about the American electorate. “Can this be an effective strategy? Does this aggressive stance reflect the mood of the US electorate?” Here is the response:

Haley’s foreign policy approach may appeal to some voters who are dissatisfied with the current administration’s perceived weakness or indecisiveness on the world stage. However, it may also alienate or alarm other voters who are wary of the costs and consequences of military interventions, or who value multilateral cooperation and diplomacy. Haley’s foreign policy stance may also affect the US’s relations with other countries, especially those that are opposed to or skeptical of US hegemony and interventionism.

According to some surveys, Haley’s aggressive stance does not reflect the mood of the majority of the US electorate, but it may resonate with some segments of it. Generally speaking, Americans want a less ambitious and less aggressive foreign policy than the US has pursued since the end of the Cold War. They prefer to focus on domestic problems rather than overseas ones, and they favor multilateral solutions over unilateral ones. However, there are some variations among different groups of voters, based on their party affiliation, ideology, age, education, gender, race, and other factors. For example, Republicans tend to be more hawkish and isolationist than Democrats, while younger and more educated voters tend to be more internationalist and multilateralist than older and less educated ones. Therefore, Haley’s foreign policy stance may appeal to some voters who share her views or concerns, but it may also alienate or alarm others who have different preferences or priorities.

I followed up with another question. “Would it therefore be reasonable to assume that Haley is focused on getting the Republican nomination but realizes this will weaken her chances in the general election? If so, what could her strategy be?” and received this coolly analytical response:

It may be reasonable to assume that Haley is focused on getting the Republican nomination, but it is not clear if she realizes that this will weaken her chances in the general election. Some possible explanations for her strategy are:

·       Haley believes that her foreign policy stance is popular among the Republican base, and that she can win the nomination by appealing to their preferences and concerns. She may also think that she can persuade or mobilize enough voters in the general election by emphasizing her leadership qualities, her experience, and her contrast with the current administration.

·       Haley is aware that her foreign policy stance is unpopular among the general electorate, but she is willing to take the risk because she thinks that foreign policy will not be the decisive factor in the election. She may also hope that she can moderate or adjust her positions after winning the nomination, or that she can compensate for her weakness on foreign policy by choosing a running mate who has a different or more balanced approach.

·       Haley is not concerned about winning the general election, but she is using the presidential campaign as a platform to advance her agenda and influence the public debate on foreign policy. She may also have other political or personal goals, such as securing a position in a future administration, building a loyal base of supporters, or enhancing her reputation and visibility.

At this point, I decided to go a bit further and address what I felt was the real issue. “All that sounds credible. What seems less credible is that the media has not reacted to the enormity of Haley’s proposal. In every other country of the world, the idea of a powerful country having a Department of Offense or even expressing the intention to have one would brand it as a dangerous fascist regime to be wary of. Does the indifference of the media mean that they don’t take Haley’s discourse seriously? Or does it mean that US media unquestioningly accepts the premise that the US military is an offensive force?”

ChatGPT offered three complementary interpretations, all of which made sense.

The media reaction to Haley’s proposal for a Department of Offense has been varied, but not very intense. Some possible reasons for this are:

·       The media does not take Haley’s discourse seriously, because they think it is a rhetorical device to appeal to her base and to differentiate herself from other candidates. They may also doubt that she can implement such a radical change, even if she wins the election.

·       The media accepts the premise that the US military is an offensive force, because they are used to the US being involved in wars and interventions around the world. They may also share Haley’s worldview and ideology, or they may fear losing access or credibility if they criticize her too harshly.

·       The media is distracted by other issues, such as the pandemic, the economy, the environment, or the social movements. They may also have limited resources or interest to cover foreign policy issues, especially when they are complex and controversial.

At this point, I found myself becoming convinced that, while AI cannot pretend to rival human intelligence when it comes to disentangling the complexity of real social and political issues, it may be well worth consulting to get a better understanding of the issues that will be deliberately distorted in legacy journalism. I asked a simple question and got a clear explanation of why I should not trust the media. This was refreshing.

But the exploration of the topic wasn’t complete. I wanted to dive deeper into the multiple personal, political, cultural and military facets of this topic. I”m reserving that for another installment, which will appear tomorrow.

Just to give you a preview, here is the next question I asked ChatGPT.

“Given that Nikki Haley has grown rich through her relationship with the military-industrial complex, through investment, speaking fees and advocacy, shouldn’t people be shocked by her radicalism?”

The sequel will appear tomorrow, October 31st. Given the fear this topic should inspire, it seems to me perfectly appropriate for Halloween.

*[Artificial Intelligence is rapidly becoming a feature of everyone’s daily life. We unconsciously perceive it either as a friend or foe, a helper or destroyer. At Fair Observer, we see it as a tool of creativity, capable of revealing the complex relationship between humans and machines.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.


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