After the last decade and half, this apparent push toward a more restrained foreign policy that avoids reckless interventions and fruitless nation-building commitments is a welcome word from the incoming president. If Trump makes good on these moves toward prudence, he stands a real shot at inaugurating the “new era of peace, understanding, and goodwill” he promised in Cincinnati to create.
The American people naturally want a say well before their military is deployed overseas to participate in a conflict and before billions of their taxpayer dollars are allocated for that purpose. The only way they are provided that power, though, is through their elected representatives -- a group of lawmakers that, over the past decade, have chosen to take the path of least resistance, steering clear from any political controversy that could occur after a war vote. It's no wonder why Congress hasn't broken a 25 percent job approval rating since December 2009, a trend that is as much about accountability as it is about productivity.
Pending her confirmation by the Senate, Haley will soon occupy one of the hardest jobs in the U.S. foreign policy bureaucracy, but she can make it a little easier on herself by remembering these guidelines.
The direction that U.S. national security policy takes over the next four years will help determine whether the United States gets stuck with problems that it cannot solve or steers clear of making ambitious commitments that it cannot keep. Here are three concepts President Trump should keep in mind as he fills out his staff and prepares for the weighty responsibility of taking over the nation's foreign policy machinery.
Ultimately, the accession of Montenegro is less about NATO and more about the European Union (EU). Montenegro applied to join the EU in 2009 and has been in negotiations with the European Commission since 2012. Montenegro’s prime minister (and former president), Milo Dukanović, claims that NATO membership is "one more important step towards Montenegro's full membership in the European Union." But Montenegro’s candidacy for membership in the EU – which is more about trade and economics – isn’t a compelling reason to make it the 29th member of NATO and is not vital component of either European or U.S. security.
Although we still don't know who Donald Trump will appoint to be his Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, or National Security Adviser, the direction that U.S. national security policy takes over the next four years will help determine whether the United States gets stuck with problems that it cannot solve or steers clear of making ambitious commitments that it cannot keep. Here are three concepts President Trump should keep in mind as he fills out his staff and prepares for the weighty responsibility of taking over the nation's foreign policy machinery.
And as for the political establishment, let Trump’s triumph be a constant reminder of the necessity of expecting the unexpected and proceeding with due (indeed, much overdue) prudence and restraint abroad. If Washington so grossly misunderstood the direction of its own heartland—without the muddling, as in foreign policy, of massive geographic and cultural differences—how naïve it is to believe that our government can successfully play armed puppet-master over an entire region of the world.
The Europeans may be right to worry about continued U.S. commitment to their defense in a Trump administration. The United States currently accounts for almost 70 percent of NATO defense spending, and has rightly called for a more equitable sharing of the burden. If you believe Trump is about “the art of the deal,” then what he wants is a better, fair deal for the U.S. After more than 60 years of the U.S. subsidizing European security, that’s not unreasonable.
After a decade and half, this conflict has taken more than 2,300 American lives; killed unknown tens of thousands of Afghan civilians; cost trillions in borrowed money future generations will be forced to repay; and left us only with a question about what we’re now trying to accomplish. As a new Congress convenes and White House Administration begins, ending this costly, reckless, and clearly ineffective entanglement should be high on his list of priorities.
We can no longer fail to account for our fiscal constraints when developing our foreign policy; and we can no longer accept politicians’ misleading debt reduction proposals that ignore their authors’ own plans for more reckless, expensive intervention. Interventionism and debt have gone hand in hand for the better part of two decades. If we are serious about getting a handle on the $19.7 trillion debt, it is past time we call out that connection.
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.