Secretary Mattis was only in Europe for two days, a short period of time to cover some very monumental questions striking at the heart of how NATO operates. The White House, however, will have more than enough time over the next four years to begin the difficult conversations that need to happen. Call it tough love to preserve the transatlantic friendship well into this century.
Indeed, U.S. boots on the ground in Syria will likely only fan the flames of radical Islam. It would be yet another military intervention in a Muslim country—Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya previously—that would confirm the al Qaeda and ISIS radical Islamic narrative that the U.S. is waging a war against Islam. And any U.S. military action will inevitably result in collateral damage—no matter how carefully and precisely we target the enemy. The resulting deaths of innocent civilians would give Muslims more reasons to hate America.
With America’s national debt edging toward $20 trillion and Europe daunted by new challenges from Russia to refugees, Washington can’t afford to bankroll the socialist indulgences of wealthy allies anymore. The Europeans have sheltered themselves under our protective awning for long enough. As our adversaries catch up to our capabilities thanks in part to 15 years of us being overextended on failed regime change campaigns, America needs strong allies willing to stand at her shoulders.
Nobody argues unconditional diplomacy with the North Koreans will be smooth sailing. Indeed, Kim may be at a point in time where capping his nuclear program and placing a moratorium on missile launches are the only demands he is willing to concede. The nuclear-free Korean Peninsula that has defined U.S. foreign policy for decades unfortunately may no longer be possible thanks to years of failed strategy from both Democrat and Republican administrations.
On the top of the list: is the conventional concept of “winning” in Afghanistan — pulverizing the Taliban into the ground; defeating Al-Qaeda into oblivion; establishing an Afghan army that is corruption-free, independent, and strong enough to control the entire country; and constructing an Afghan government that respects democratic principles — possible to meet?
That is my takeaway from the latest Charles Koch Institute/Center for the National Interest poll of American attitudes toward foreign policy. A majority of those surveyed in late January turned out to be deeply skeptical that what American has been doing has been working. And it’s hard to argue they don’t have a point.
These poll results—and Trump reportedly loves perusing poll results—are a good place to begin: Learn from the overreach of years past. Demand the Pentagon come into compliance with its audit requirement, so Congress can better assess both value and waste in past spending and more effectively budget for the future. . Think creatively about mutually beneficial partnerships with other world powers instead of reflexively pushing toward conflict. “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship” should always be our goal in foreign relations, not war, protectionism, and entangling alliances.
While committee hearings in general provide the witnesses with time to lobby for their priorities, they are also designed for members of Congress on both sides of the Capitol dome to ask the pointed, direct, tough, and uncomfortable questions that would ordinarily be glossed over in the day-to-day beehive of Washington. Unfortunately, the recent HASC hearing itself didn’t follow in that that tradition. The Armed Services Committee failed to ask any difficult questions at all.
During the campaign, Trump said, “Decades of failure in Washington, and decades of special interest dealing, must come to an end. We have to break the cycle of corruption, and we have to give new voices a chance to go into government service.” Thus far, Trump has elevated mostly conventional candidates to senior posts. Now is the time to back up his words with actions nominate qualified “new voices” who have distinguished themselves by succeeding in non-conventional ways.The President should elevate at least some of these qualified people if for no other reason than to breathe new life into stale organizations, infuse innovation into future development, and limit the stifling influence of the defense industry
With Washington distracted by President Trump's executive orders, Iran has reportedly taken advantage of the situation by test launching its first ballistic missile since last July. U.S. defense officials told Reuters the intermediate-range ballistic missile traveled 630 miles before exploding in mid-air. In response, the U.S. has appropriately called for a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss the test—a launch that would arguably violate a Security Council resolution calling on Tehran to cease any work on ballistic missile development.
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.