Wednesday, 24 August 2016

What Trump’s Foreign Policy Gets Right - WSJ

This is interesting from John Bolton. 
Hillary better get a skedaddle on to work out a foreign policy which differentiates from the soppy-floppy Obamism. 
Something perhaps like the proposed Clinton Foreign policy speech suggested by Sam Harris in a recent post. []
Not holding breath on that though. She seems blind (willfully?) to certain realities especially the Islamic one.
Full text below the fold...
Had one of Donald Trump 's Republican opponents during the campaign for the GOP nomination given the same speech on combating global terrorism he gave last week, it would have raised few eyebrows. Naturally, competing candidates would have disputed particular points—some vigorously—but the speech's overall analysis fits well within mainstream conservative and Republican thinking.
Some Trump opponents and supporters alike will be distressed by this news, but the speech visibly sharpens the contradictions with Hillary Clinton, who clearly would continue President Obama 's nonstrategy concerning radical Islam—now confirmed to include paying ransom for hostages. More broadly, the speech underlines why terrorism and other grave national-security threats should take center stage in the presidential race.
Mr. Trump rightly sees an ideological war being waged against the West by a hateful, millenarian obsession targeting core American constitutional and philosophical principles. From that assessment flow several policy consequences, most important the imperative to destroy the terrorist threat rapidly and comprehensively before it kills and maims more innocent people. Mr. Trump correctly argues that, in combating Islamic State, al Qaeda and others, "we must use ideological warfare" as well as stronger military and intelligence operations, and be "a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers." This strategy is entirely consistent with what Jordan's King Abdullah II and other Arab leaders characterize as a civil war within Islam.
In contrast, Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton still believe terrorism is a law-enforcement issue. They fail to grasp the ideological war we are in and therefore refuse to combat the enemy effectively. There were once those who did not see Communism as an ideological threat. They played down their views publicly because U.S. public opinion was overwhelmingly contrary, as Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama are doing now regarding terrorism. Mr. Trump should emphatically move the debate about radical Islam into the campaign spotlight. Let's see who stands where.
Mr. Trump's speech also demonstrated his willingness to face the hand dealt an incoming president, rather than following ideological abstractions, as Mr. Obama has consistently done. Although Mr. Trump restated his opposition to President George W. Bush 's 2003 invasion of Iraq and overthrow of the dictator Saddam Hussein, he nonetheless argues correctly that Mr. Obama's "reckless" withdrawal of U.S. forces in 2011 rested on an "election-driven timetable" that "surrendered our gains in that country and led directly to the rise of ISIS," thereby constituting "a catastrophic mistake." 
The wider implications of Mr. Trump's speech were apparent in the subsequent commentary on two points: The GOP nominee's immigration views as they intersect with terrorism, and his disdain for "nation building." Let us take them in turn.
Mr. Trump correctly identified the terrorist threat as fundamentally ideological. It would be inexcusable for America not to combat that ideology in multiple ways, both offensively and defensively. Countering Islamic State's successful propaganda and recruitment efforts, especially digitally, and exposing them for the barbarians their conduct proves them to be are critical elements of a winning plan. 
Confronted with ideological threats, America is entirely justified in raising appropriate immigration protections, which is neither unprecedented nor contrary to existing law. Even now, a central statutory requirement for U.S. naturalization is that applicants be "of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution . . . and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States." That sounds very much like Mr. Trump's speech, and hardly earth-shaking. Whether existing authorities suffice or whether new legislation is needed is unclear, but the broad policy isn't.
On nation building, the debate is confused, with many advocates mistakenly conflating it with "intervention." The two are different. President George H.W. Bush 's November 1992 decision to intervene militarily in anarchic Somalia, and his successor Bill Clinton 's far-different policies, highlight the distinction. 
Agree or disagree with President Bush's Somalia intervention, he precisely defined his limited objective of opening channels for humanitarian supplies. Although the military operations were blessed by the United Nations Security Council, Mr. Bush was always clear that they would be under U.S. command. So fixed was Mr. Bush on the intervention's limits, he showed remarkable deference to President-elect Clinton by offering to withdraw all American forces by Jan. 20, 1993.
But Mr. Clinton had much grander objectives, namely practicing "assertive multilateralism." Somalia was his chosen vehicle for nation building. Mr. Clinton's ambassador to the U.N., Madeleine Albright, praised Security Council action endorsing the president's nation-building project, saying, "With this resolution, we will embark on an unprecedented enterprise aimed at nothing less than the restoration of an entire country as a proud, functioning and viable member of the community of nations." 
Disaster soon followed. And subsequent American nation-building efforts in other countries fared little better. Although bilateral financial, technical and military assistance can advance U.S. foreign-policy objectives, the local peoples themselves must know what they are about. We can't do it for them and shouldn't pretend otherwise. 
This foreign-policy reality has been clear since the Marshall Plan. Following World War II, Washington provided assistance in various forms but insisted that European states conduct nation rebuilding, relying on existing legal, political and cultural foundations far stronger than those prevalent in less-developed regions. Mr. Trump isn't committing heresy by saying America's recent attempts at nation-building haven't ended well. He's telling the truth.
More important, whether Mr. Trump is "interventionist" or "noninterventionist" in his proclivities is really a nonissue, as are academic flights of fancy such as characterizing U.S. "multilateralism" positively and "unilateralism" negatively. These are essentially word games about tools rather than policies, like asking in the abstract "do you favor using a knife or a spoon?" Obviously, the critical question for real policy makers is "to do what?"
National security should be central to the 2016 presidential contest. Mr. Trump's speech is a serious contribution to that end. He needs to maintain his focus and discipline, and by so doing compel Mrs. Clinton to defend her intention to continue President Obama's failed polices.
Mr. Bolton is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad" (Simon & Schuster, 2007).

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