For every big-ticket weapons sale to Taiwan, the United States bears a political cost with China. The weapons transferred must therefore contribute to a sound defensive strategy and deter rather than invite armed conflict. By empowering Taiwan to properly defend itself, the U.S. can dodge the politically treacherous question of just how far it is willing to go in Taiwan’s defense, and incentivize China to seek a peaceful resolution to the Taiwan question.
President Trump claims he doesn’t want a war with Iran, but rather a negotiation. This is a welcoming and promising goal. But if the president actually wishes to put this goal into practice, he needs to stop heeding the advice of his more hawkish national security advisers who are guiding him into a very treacherous spot.
Instead of automatically selling more offensive weapons to governments in the Middle East, Washington should deliberate with the utmost seriousness whether the U.S. arms export in question is in the U.S. national security interest. Does it help a partner balance against a peer competitor? Or does it only convince the competitor to acquire ever-more high-caliber weapons in fear of being vulnerable?
Now, America has a choice. It can either continue to languish in an ineffective occupation that bleeds the U.S. military and taxpayer, with no chance for additional gains for America, in the hopes that the Taliban and the Afghan government surprise us all and seek peace in a good-faith manner—or it can accept its done all it can and leave. As far as American interests are concerned, exit is clearly the best option. It’s past time Washington acknowledge that reality.
Washington should continue to encourage Europe to meet its defense spending obligations under NATO, but America should also not stand in the way of a unified European military. The United States should welcome European allies that are reasonably strong, autonomous, and capable of both defending themselves and assisting America abroad.
More broadly, there is no windfall to be had for Iran or Russia in Syria beyond helping wind down a sectarian civil war — a grim payoff in the best scenario. Contrary to the report’s reasoning, helping to govern impoverished territory riven by sectarian violence cannot propel a state to regional dominance or global gains.
This Memorial Day let us truly consider the terrible price thousands of service members and their loved ones have paid in recent wars. The best way we can honor them, and the survivors, is to ensure we don’t unnecessarily sacrifice one more Service Member unless it is absolutely necessary to our security. They deserve nothing less
With no security concerns and no direct interests at stake, the best thing the United States can do for the people of Venezuela—and for Americans—is to abandon regime change, help relieve the humanitarian crisis, encourage all parties to resolve their disputes according to their own laws and constitution, and engage in regional diplomacy with other like-minded countries. There is no “quick fix” for Venezuela’s problems. Any use of American military, regardless of how much it may satisfy a yearning to “do something,” will turn a crisis into a tragedy and likely plunge the U.S. into another endless nation-building mistake.
Each of these obstacles—bad advice in Washington, needless and even counterproductive maintenance of stalemate, and strategically reckless mission creep—can and must be overcome if Trump intends to make good on his promises of a new direction for American foreign policy, including an end to the war in Afghanistan. There is no military solution to be had here; it is time to simply come home.
Syria carries unique escalation risks. U.S. forces could be pulled into war with Syrian government forces, Iran, Russia, and even Turkey. Nothing that U.S. forces could accomplish there justifies such risk. The persistence of terrorist outrages is, if anything, evidence of the futility of making war on it. Attempting to manage civil wars with U.S. troops in the name of counterterrorism is a bankrupt idea.
This evacuation gives us an opportunity to recognize that however well-intended, U.S. military intervention in Libya has done more harm than good. Prolonging this forgotten war further will not balance those failures and in fact stands a real chance of exacerbating them. The Trump administration should seize this moment to give Pompeo’s rejection of a military solution some real heft. Let us lead by example and bring U.S. troops home from Libya for good.
Trump’s decision to veto the Yemen bill lost him an easy political win and the chance to execute a significant and necessary shift in U.S. foreign policy with relative ease. But it is not too late to make that change directly from the Oval Office, which is exactly where this misadventure began under the previous administration. The president can end U.S. support for the Saudi coalition any time he wants, ceasing America’s participation in Yemen’s misery.
Perpetually threatening Venezuela, North Korea, or Iran with military intervention to demand they adhere to our preferred policy outcomes—while closing off or severely limiting our diplomatic engagement—will ultimately harm, not help, our national security. If we don’t want Russia meddling in the Western Hemisphere—and we don’t—we need to jettison our permanently militarized foreign policy for one that elevates diplomacy.
A clear-eyed view of the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela demands recognition that the Maduro regime is condemnable—and that there is no wisdom in advocating U.S. intervention, especially when Russia is involved. To give the Venezuelan people their best shot at a more free, peaceful, and prosperous future, Washington’s main job is to leave well enough alone.
Now it’s time for the region’s governments to finally step up and do right by their people. A strategic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria is the only appropriate move, and it also decreases the risk of major conflict. Anything less will only delay the moment when Arab leaders take the initiative to fight the illness that feeds the tumor that is terrorism.