Both sides in this civil war have spilled much innocent blood; there are no good guys in this fight. That’s why U.S. foreign policy should be guided by a realistic grand strategy, not knee-jerk responses to developments on the ground. Bashar al-Assad is a brutal thug, but deepening U.S. involvement in Syria’s civil war would undermine U.S. security.
The most prudent path is the one already announced by the president: to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria’s civil war and use the United States’ unparalleled diplomatic power to pursue a viable detente in Syria. Sometimes there are no good military options, and we must opt for the least bad policy on the table.
President Trump is mulling an end to the U.S. military intervention in Syria’s civil war, commenting Thursday that U.S. troops would exit the country “very soon,” letting “the other people take care of it now.” With the Islamic State deprived of the vast majority of its land and status—the terrorist group now controls just 5 percent of the Syrian territory it had conquered at its peak—and regional powers like Russia, Turkey, and Iran invested in preventing an ISIS reprise, Trump has recognized the rationale for U.S. occupation grows increasingly thin.
Serious leadership and thoughtful initiative is needed to put our nation’s defense on a sustainable and fiscally responsible foundation, or we will be doing a disservice to ourselves and to the men and women who defend our country.
If the United States chooses to follow the counsel of Ambassador Bolton and others in the idealism-driven foreign policy establishment on NATO enlargement, we will be playing a risky game with an opponent who has stronger incentives to win on the issue—a worrying circumstance to find ourselves in. There may well be danger in the appointment of the president’s new national security advisor, but it certainly is more perilous to have an entire ruling class in unquestioning support of his most reckless policies.
American security is neither enhanced nor placed at increased risk regardless of how the Syrian war is eventually resolved. Our government’s obligation to defend U.S. interests and citizens remains the same either way, and we will continue to successfully protect our vital national interests. Leaving a residual military force indefinitely on the ground in Syria will not accomplish even partial success, and that’s okay, as long as we get out and stop risking precious blood and treasure. President Trump is right to order the withdrawal of American troops from Syria.
Peace through strength is in order, as is maintaining a tough line toward Putin. But managing Russia’s decline requires allowing Russia enough breathing room to go into the night quietly, and without a bang. Expelling diplomats is the appropriate response, but remember the long-game
President Trump has had good instincts on several foreign policy matters since the 2016 campaign. If he does indeed hire Bolton to become his next National Security Advisor, let us hope that Trump does not sacrifice his good instincts in deference to Bolton’s poor track record of advocating hawk-like impulses.
But jumping recklessly into more military commitments and wars abroad is not truly tough—and it is not putting “America first.” For Americans who hoped Trump would distance himself from the harmful foreign policy strategies of his two predecessors, the last week’s developments should be an alarming wakeup call. This is not what realism or restraint look like—and this is not how to effectively advance American interests in the world.
We must live with the Russians, whether we like it or not. As much as the U.S. and our European partners may despise Putin personally, the West has very little choice but to decide whether to work with him—or oppose him—based on a clear-eyed assessment of core interests.
The Iraq War, the war of my youth, broke my heart, damaged the republic and fractured the Middle East. So why do some in Washington insist it was a “victory”?
The White House is cloaking a policy of regime change in Syria under the guise of fighting terrorism and preventing the Islamic State from returning—a policy that the American people neither want or were consulted on. The United States is dangerously setting new missions that have absolutely no connection at all to combatting ISIS.
The senators are right in their elucidation of Congress’ constitutional war powers. Washington must recognize its support for the Saudi coalition is a counterproductive “government failure,” as the senators wrote, and it would be wise to change course. While May is busy raising concerns, Congress may finally act.
A military alliance is a commitment to another party that we will sacrifice American sons and daughters for their benefit. To make such a significant sacrifice, there must be a vital national interest at stake for America. As important, entering into an alliance requires that the other side be willing to sacrifice for our security, and that the ties result in a benefit to the United States. None of those factors exist in this case. The benefit is all to Kiev—and America absorbs risk without the potential for reward.
President Trump shocked the world with the announcement that he would personally meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Fortunately, he has so far resisted numerous calls to use military force, and this move now opens the door to potentially solve the nuclear dispute short of war. Hopefully Trump’s actions will cool the war-talk advocated by some in Washington.
hat to make of President Donald Trump’s acceptance of a face-to-face meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program?Before answering, it’s important to remember what’s most important for the United States: To make sure that North Korea never uses its nuclear weapons. Thankfully, our overwhelming conventional and nuclear deterrent ensures America’s security.
Seoul, not Washington, must now work with Beijing and Tokyo to solve the problem. For Washington, step one is to signal American support for President Moon’s initiative of an inter-Korean dialogue.
Moon is right, in the long run, about “a need for talks between the United States and North Korea,” but conversation between the two Koreas is more achievable and more likely to be effective in the near term. If Seoul is willing to talk to Pyongyang, Washington must get out of the way.
It’s long past time to pay attention to the world as it is. This much is certain, after 16 years, when no sector of even Kabul is safe, and U.S. operations have drifted to bombing obscure Chinese separatists, it is time to immediately explore extricating the U.S. from this entire endeavor.
The latest two-year budget deal that skyrockets Pentagon and domestic spending by at least $320 billion is laying the foundation for a major economic disaster for our future. Perversely and counterintuitively, the spike in defense spending won’t solve the military’s readiness problems.
President Trump took to Twitter Monday morning to hype the plan’s release, and he chose to do so by contrasting this program with the reckless spending of the past 17 years of U.S. foreign policy. “This will be a big week for Infrastructure,” the president wrote. “After so stupidly spending $7 trillion in the Middle East, it is now time to start investing in OUR Country!”
The U.S., however, cannot let fear overtake logic or insist on goals that are unnecessary and simply not possible, at least in the short run. Washington’s national security community should push for an honest, inter-agency debate about the reality in front of us. A nuclear North Korea has been deterred for the last 11 years—there is no evidence it won’t be deterred far into the future.
The security of Europe simply cannot matter more to Washington than it does to the people who live there. Changes are both appropriate and necessary with regard to the obligations of our NATO allies.
Engaging with North Korea in a productive manner is essential. The more we directly interact with them on our terms, and on U.S.-friendly territory, the better. The 2018 Olympic games have presented us with that opportunity. Let’s hope all U.S. representatives use it to the advantage of the American people they are sworn to represent.
It is long past time to stop believing in surges, leadership changes, and other tired old approaches from the interventionist Washington elite. In Afghanistan policy there is, truly, nothing new under the sun.
President Trump and members of Congress should give substantial and sober consideration to the risk they would be taking with the health of the U.S. military before ordering any ground action—including the so-called “bloody nose” option—on the Korean peninsula.
A budget impasse doesn’t have to mean that government stops working. The alternative is a continuation of the status quo through an “automatic continuing resolution.” If appropriations legislation can’t be agreed to, programs would simply carry on as before.
It’s time for hard decisions and realistic analysis. The U.S. military may have already accomplished all it can (and needs to) in Syria. It is now wading into treacherous waters as the mission expands to countering Iran, forcing a diplomatic solution in Geneva, and quietly nation-building in the northeast. The U.S. may, understandably, desire all of those things, but none rank as truly vital national security interests worthy of hefty military investment. Realism demands the U.S. weigh the immense commitments with the paltry plausible payoffs.
The U.S. should always be vigilant in protecting Americans from terrorism. If the U.S. intelligence community discovers an imminent plot being planned in Afghanistan, Syria, or anywhere else, it should take action and do so without apology or reservation. U.S. officials, however, will have to apologize to the American people if they continue to implement the same basic strategy, supported by the same stale assumptions, with the same overzealous goals, delivering only repeated failure.
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.