In forming a conservative foreign policy leadership, you need to hear two words: “More” and “No.”
It appears these are the words President-elect Donald Trump wants to hear as he puts together the team that will defend the United States over the next years.
More defines our defense capability. You cannot have too many guns. You cannot have too many ships and planes and tanks.
Ronald Reagan did not win the long struggle against Soviet communism alone, of course; there was Lech Walesa and John Paul II, there were the freedom fighters in Budapest and Berlin, Cuba, Central America, the Hindu Kush, the savannahs and bush across Africa who resisted the totalitarian imperialism. Often they resisted successfully, with or without our help. Sometimes we let them down, misled them, betrayed them even, and we cannot forget these failures.
All great nations make terrible mistakes of statecraft. The betrayal and abandonment of South Vietnam was about as bad as it got. Ronald Reagan made some whoppers, but he kept remembering those two words. And applying them. Then he said four. “We win. They lose.”
By the evidence of rumors, which admittedly is not what you should call accurate journalism, the boss has got his sights on a “more” man for defense, the Marine Corps’ fighting general, James Mattis. He already has said he would nominate another one, Army general Mike Flynn for National Security Advisor. Gen. Flynn is a redoubtable hard-nose with a record of calling the Islamic assault upon the West by its proper name. His deputy would be K. T. McFarland, another hard-nose who has served at or near the highest sub-cabinet national security posts in past Republican administrations, notably Reagan’s.
This would be a good tandem, because while surely a president does not want yes-men (and women) in his Cabinet, on the contrary he must seek out a team that will offer assessments that clash with his own as well as their colleagues’, you do not want such a clash in the office of the National Security Advisor, which already must help the president mediate between Defense and State, CIA and Treasury, and other members of the National Security Council.
With Mattis at Defense, it seems almost any choice for State would work, from among the available candidates. American diplomacy is weakened when our military establishment is frayed. But with a Secretary of Defense for whom American preponderance-of-power is axiomatic, the striped pants set will be in a far better position to work for order and peace in the world instead of appeasement and anarchy.
John Bolton, hardline ex-State Department official and no-fudge UN envoy, would be the man to add the “no” to the “more.” The United Nations? “No, and goodbye.” The Iran nuclear deal? “No, and get real.” You see the idea: an American secretary of state who, miracle, has gone native — native American, that is. Not good for us? Just say no.
You would be amazed at how quickly this will bring adversaries (and alleged allies) to their senses; they will come back to the table and ask us what we want. “No” is the strongest bargaining word in English: and the freest, most dynamic nation in the world, you may be sure, stands to suffer much less in a crowd of no’s than all the others combined.
With Gov. Nikki Halley heading the U.S. mission to the UN, where she will be a voice for freedom against cant and meanness, as were Jeane Kirkpatrick and Daniel Patrick Moynihan before her, Bolton could take Claudia Rossett for his assistant secretary for international organizations. This most learned and intellectual of reporters knows the score as well as anyone else on the UN and Iran, the two top “no” issues on the new Secretary’s agenda. She would back up our mission to the UN while leading a review of our entire “yes” diplomacy.
This is the neurotic diplomacy of “give ’em what they want and they’ll love us.” It defies human nature and basic statecraft.
Moreover, it substitutes what we think they ought to want with what they really want. While the hare brains at the State Department’s “nation-building” bureau, USAID, are promoting transgender rights in Afghanistan, the stone-age locals are dreaming of bridges and roads (USAID’s original, long-forgotten mission) and child rape. Observe that what they want is none of our business, unless it crosses what we want. Why should the U.S. taxpayer be funding Afghan graft and pervs?
Other names have been mentioned besides John Bolton’s, including Governor Mitt Romney’s, whom the Wall Street Journal favors. The great New York paper’s argument is a good one: Romney’s nomination would send a powerful message to the bureaucracy in Washington, as well as to friend and foe alike abroad, that we Americans are not political thugs, we forgive and move on in the interests of the Republic.
Good point, though it will not bring joy to Trump voters and supporters who remember what the gov said about their man during the campaign, which, curiously, echoes what the gov’s father — who also was a gov, which makes it still curiouser — said about Barry Goldwater back in the mists of conservative time.
Nor is it certain that Romney, with his history of shifts on issues to suit the fashions of whatever group is he aiming to please, would sail well between the treacherous Washington shoals. An ambassadorship might be more appropriate — France for example, whose most famous diplomat observed that language was given to man to conceal thought. The gov speaks passable French, but I speak it better, so even though he probably hates my guts, I volunteer to accompany him as special aide. I will play tennis with him at the Racing Club for the duration, as well as accompany him to gallery openings. That is really all we need to do in France.
In fact, that is par for what most ambassadors ought to be doing. Sometimes they have real jobs, in countries desperately fighting for their lives. But this brings to mind another issue for the appointee. Just as there are too many agencies tripping over each other and, at best, boondoggling at the taxpayers’ expense, there are too many ambassadors. The new secretary could save the American taxpayer money by cutting back, drastically.
Rudy Giuliani’s name has been mentioned. According to most conservative observers, he would be an excellent choice. He got plenty of foreign policy experience simply by being mayor of New York. This would serve him well if he moves to Washington; Foggy Bottom is foreign territory; as used to be said, it would be well if there were an American interests section there.
Giuliani already knows this. If the choice is between him and John Bolton, the nation can count on winning.