Despite their loathing for Dick Cheney, most of America’s foreign policy elite — regardless of political party — are gripped by the same neurotic fear of the outside world that the former vice president possessed. It is the much-maligned President Donald Trump who is attempting to shake the foreign policy establishment from its anxiety and return U.S. foreign policy to a more rational, responsible, and restrained place. Giving into fear is not what statesmen do. It’s ironic that the brash, non-politician, real estate mogul from New York has a more statesmanlike foreign policy than the professional politicos who have run U.S. foreign policy for decades.
“As Tallyrand said of the Bourbons, our neocons have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Today these same “intellectuals” advocate more expansive forms of humanitarian warfare. Everywhere from Syria to Nigeria is a potential target for American militarism. It’d be laughable if it weren’t for the fact that the neocons remain hugely influential not only in Washington, D.C. generally but even within the Trump Administration.”
“But, because George H.W. Bush was more concerned with playing petty politics based on short-term assumptions, rather than acting boldly and taking the licks for his decisions. Even his actions in Desert Storm were indecisive, which created many more problems for the United States in the long-run than there otherwise would have been. This is why George H.W. Bush’s presidency was an unmitigated failure (to say nothing of his domestic failures).”
“The Americans and British judiciously used time, geography, and force to their extreme advantage during World War II. In Afghanistan, however, the United States never took the time to analyze the situation from a strategic view. Rather than recognizing how America’s partners, such as Pakistan, could have fully assisted the war effort (had we simply made a deal with the Taliban, Pakistan’s client in Afghanistan) and remained tightly focused on al Qaeda, who knows how differently our history would have turned out?”
“For the United States, it needs to not only temper its expectations (and therefore slow down the tempo of its intervention in the region generally, but specifically in Syria), and start focusing on larger geopolitical concerns. Obviously, the United States cannot (and should not) simply abandon the region, as many on the Far Right insist. But, we must be willing to give greater levels of support–and responsibility–to our local allies. That is our only hope for not breaking the American military in the quicksand of Mideast politics (which we presently are in danger of doing).”
“Basing our foreign policy on hard-to-discern ideals–or conflating the ideals that must define the American citizens’ relationship with his government with the kind of brutish action that is often necessary to preserve the national interest abroad–is idiotic.”
“The president’s options on North Korea are bad. However, the president must make a choice. This is the sad world we currently live in today. It’s a simple lose-lose calculation: do we lose little by dictating the course of conflict with preemptive strikes before North Korea gets fully functional ICBMs, or do we lose big by suffering a mass casualty attack and, potentially, being forced out of the Asia-Pacific entirely?”
America doesn’t–and shouldn’t want to–fight long wars. The immense failures of the Global War on Terror prove why.
The defeat of the Islamic State will create several knock-on effects in the Middle East. Namely, the Kurds will likely renew calls for their independence. The U.S. should support these claims.
As the 14th anniversary of the Iraq War passes us by, I reflect on the geopolitical implications of the ill-fated war over at American Greatness.