Germany and the other NATO countries need to take primary responsibility for defending Europe, not just because that is their obligation to the alliance, but because it is their obligation to their own peoples. As Secretary of Defense Mattis told the other members of the alliance last year, “Americans cannot care more for your children’s future security than you do.”
If we are to avoid making Saturday’s scare come true, the Trump administration must learn from recent foreign policy failures to pursue a prudent course of de-escalation with Pyongyang, trusting that America’s diplomacy is part of her might, and that war is not the only, first, or best option in our toolkit of defense.
In placing the war-making obligation in the purview of Congress, the Constitution provides a check on the rush to war. It is intended to provoke deliberate public decision making that engages a country’s citizens, instead of keeping them in the dark. The Constitution makes the burden of war a shared and purposeful task.
War is an inherently messy, complex, bloody, and unpredictable business. With so much at stake on the Korean Peninsula, those arguing for a limited strike on North Korea must think long and hard about how quickly things will go wrong after the first bombs are dropped. The bloody-nose option is so ridiculously naïve that, if executed, would go down in history as the most mindless foreign policy decision in America’s history.
Defenders of U.S. treaty and trade commitments, supporters of international organizations, advocates of Congress’ Article I powers, and critics of executive overreach each have a stake. As for advocates of expansive presidential powers, Senate support for updating our international commitments would boost the legitimacy and durability of changes.
President Trump’s National Security Strategy, as critics note, doesn’t seem to match Trump’s views. But it does reflect his policies, which adhere far more closely to establishment foreign policy view than he or they like to admit. That includes a refusal to prioritize. Because resources are always limited and goals inevitably compete, U.S. national security policy can’t entirely avoid such choices. But without a true strategy that guides those decisions, they’re likely to adhere to the overreaching status quo, abrading the simple goals this document aims to serve.
Perhaps none of President Trump’s tweets have put as much distance between shock and surprise than his Jan. 2 declaration that his “nuclear button” is “much bigger” than North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s nuclear button—“and my Button works!”
It is time to redeploy U.S. military forces and adopt a new, effective strategy that focuses on U.S. interests, rather than spreading democracy and occupying ungovernable spaces. The people of Afghanistan and those of the region who will have to live with the results are the only ones with the cultural understanding necessary to find a negotiated end. It is they, and not the U.S., that will find a sustainable settlement—and U.S. military power can re-focus on security threats instead of peripheral nation-building missions.
Given that President Trump subsequently signed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act–authorizing nearly $700 billion for DoD and that the Pentagon has an estimated $2.4 trillion in assets––an audit is long overdue.
The latest dustup in the world of foreign policy gurus occurred when a memo—written to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by Brian Hook, an influential policy aid—was leaked to Politico. The memo was written in May 2017, weeks after Tillerson made a speech where he called for the U.S. to balance the pursuit of our values overseas with our interests. “It’s really important that all of us understand the difference between policy and values,” Tillerson said.
To inform citizens, thought leaders, and policy makers of the importance of a strong, dynamic military—used more judiciously to protect America's narrowly defined national interests—and promote a realistic grand strategy prioritizing restraint, diplomacy, and free trade to ensure American security.