American foreign policy desperately needs a show of party unity—not the political chaos that’s currently on display. On the one hand, you have the Democrats who insist we fight the Cold War all over again; they remain fixated on Russia despite overwhelming evidence that that the flawed authoritarian state is more focused on combating ISIS and Islamic extremism than on seriously undermining the United States. On the other hand, you have the Republican non-interventionists who insist we are committing ourselves to a 20-year war every time America refuses to capitulate to rogue nations.
As this on-going disunity festers, Iran continues to be an existential threat to both the United States and Israel, even after the assassination of their top terrorist general, Qassem Soleimani. And it’s not the only one: we’re facing threats at our borders and around the world.
Thankfully, President Trump is not a foreign policy ideologue. His voice and his actions remain in remarkable synchronization as he pursues a policy that is neither isolationist, nor Wilsonian. It’s an America First platform that recognizes that there are and will be exceptional times when America needs to exercise its military strength beyond its borders.
THE CREATIVE DIPLOMACY OF DONALD J. TRUMP
True, President Trump ran for office on an somewhat isolationist platform; he promised to draw down America’s military presence around the world. Once elected, however, he did not hesitate to use military force against foreign enemies when their actions have demanded it—all while scoring creative diplomatic victories against rogue states like North Korea.
We could well have been heading in that same paralyzed direction recently as pro-Iranian militants temporarily occupied the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad—but it didn’t happen that way. Donald J. Trump was in the White House.
In other words, our President, ever the realist, has opted for effective policy decisions instead of ideologically uniform ones. Although strict non-interventionism remains weak within the conservative movement—its most notable spokesman being Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)—there is an increasing desire to avoid any foreign entanglements and focus inward. At the tail end of a failed two-decade state-building project in Afghanistan, this sentiment makes sense. Even pundit Ann Coulter (whom I’ve always considered more of an entertainer than political theorist) suggests that we should be more concerned about Mexican drug cartels than a potentially nuclear-armed Iran.
President Trump agrees with Coulter on the threat posed by Mexican paramilitary forces; he wants to designate the cartels as terrorist groups. But the difference is that his vision does not end at the border. He understands American security requires deterring or diplomatically pacifying all of our enemies—Iran among them.
Left to its own devices, Iran will continue working towards nuclear capability; it not only wants to dominate the region, but has unequivocally declared its desire to destroy our closest regional ally, Israel. Their rhetoric demonstrates that they do not understand or entertain old world diplomacy. Iran does not really care about belonging to the community of nations; they are a bully that deals in the language of force, and President Trump understands that and treats them accordingly.
The president also remembers what happened in 1979 when Iranian students occupied the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, seizing 52 hostages. Even before the birth of 24/7 cable news, the image of screaming, sign-waving Iranians assaulted ordinary Americans’ sense of well-being and the world witnessed a United States that appeared helpless and inert.
We could well have been heading in that same paralyzed direction recently as pro-Iranian militants temporarily occupied the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad—but it didn’t happen that way.
Donald J. Trump was in the White House.
A BETRAYAL OF ESTABLISHMENT THINKING
The Democrats and some willfully naive Republicans are not prepared to give this one to President Trump, but he deserves it. The retaliation Iran threatened in response to President Trump’s decisive action turned out to be all bark and no bite. Their bloated rhetoric about a supposed bloodbath turned out to be little more than fireworks.
The reality is that President Trump is consistently exhibiting another side to his inventive foreign policy. There is no one better qualified to detect corruption in Ukraine.
Instead of acknowledging this, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) continues to blather on about how he believes President Trump put personal gain ahead of the country, and even suggested on the Sunday talk shows that a “humiliated Iran is more dangerous” than one left unchecked.
And while the Senate impeachment trial has forced our attention on Ukraine and the issues of foreign aid and burden sharing, it’s important to note that from the beginning, the White House has insisted we assess these policies in the light of current reality—not political ideology.
The reality is that President Trump is consistently exhibiting another side to his inventive foreign policy. There is no one better qualified to detect corruption in Ukraine. As someone who thrived in the private sector as a real estate developer in the jungles of New York City, Donald J. Trump had to deal with political corruption, indolent and dishonest contractors and organized crime. That’s exactly the sort of environment that infects Ukraine.
To suggest that the executive cannot attach strings to foreign assistance is not only naive, it is destructive. It hamstrings the creative diplomacy that has kept America safe since President Trump took office. It is a bankrupt policy that ladles out aid dollars when there is no guarantee that the money will even benefit the interests of security—that of the recipient or the United States.
True, it is not isolationism—its realism. And it is nauseating for Democrats like Schiff and others to suggest for a minute that it represents a betrayal of any kind—except perhaps of stagnant, establishment thinking.