Some fundamental questions will need to be addressed. (Updated.)
In a Realpolitik view of the world, the world is seen as it actually is — not viewed through a utopian lens.
The Obama administration (including during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State) coordinated, abetted, and funded huge weapons flows into the conflict in Syria. Whatever the initial intentions, most of these arms and munitions ended up in the possession of anti-Assad jihadists. As grim evidence now attests, jihadists of various stripes perpetrated the genocide of ancient Christian communities, as well as unorthodox Muslim sects. Without the multinational covert military operation to overthrow the Assad regime there would have been no refugee crisis, Europe would not have been destabilized by the unprecedented exodus of refugees, and Syria would have remained the same as what Iraq would have been without the U.S. intervention — a despotic regime of no threat to the USA. Most significantly, hundreds of thousands of Syrians and Iraqis would still be alive. Their nations would not have been reduced to rubble.
This is what comes of the delusional humanitarian aspirations of regime change and nation building.
In the summer of 2013 Obama refrained (at the last conceivable minute) to escalate this commitment to regime change by using direct, overt U.S. bombing or missile strikes against Assad. That would have spiraled into an even more uncontrollable Holocaust, with escalating risks including but not limited to a possible inadvertent military confrontation with Russia.
At a minimum tens of thousands, more Syrians would have been killed. The only beneficiaries would have been the Islamists, who as we have seen eventually morphed into ISIS. It is truly sobering if not outright terrifying to contemplate just how close the USA came to providing the air force for ISIS. Yet this is exactly what was being vociferously advocated at the time by Republican senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte, as well as Secretary of State John Kerry, among others.
The Roman historian Tacitus had something to say about such adventurism: “Where they make a wasteland, they call it peace.”
Obama’s rhetoric may have sometimes implied a policy of keeping Americans out of unilateral military adventures, but his actions belied it. The earlier sustained bombing of Libya and subsequent violent regime change showed no such restraint. His meddling in the ouster of Egypt’s Mubarak on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood showed no such restraint. His subsequent arming of the Syrian “rebels” showed no such restraint. Obama was “all in” on the globalists’ reckless, hubristic policy of regime change and nation building — which in reality amounts to regime change and nation annihilation.
The bipartisan foreign policy of the recent quarter century (since the collapse of the Soviet Union) has essentially been a policy of America Last. It’s been Globalist Utopians First. The American people have been led astray by four successive administrations (Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama) in headlong, reckless, disastrous wars which have not advanced the national security of the United States at all. In fact, these policies have done the opposite. They have squandered trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives (our very best fellow citizens in uniform).
Simultaneously this cabal of elitists have left our own borders wide open so that today thousands of jihadists are imbedded in thousands of ethnic enclaves across the county, with more arriving every day thanks to the Sleeper Cell Assembly Line, otherwise known as the Visa Waiver Program and Refugee Resettlement. Lest we forget, the infamous Tsarnaev brothers arrived as refugees from Chechnya. The FBI does not have the manpower or resources to keep up with this burgeoning Fifth Column.
Until Trump, American policy had gotten everything exactly backwards: foreign military adventures under the guise of high-minded rhetoric which deposed dictators only to engender havoc, chaos, death, and destruction — while simultaneously doing nothing effective to protect our own borders, our own homeland, or our own people.
There’s nothing smug or detached about a sober assessment of the real world. Sending armies abroad in search of monsters to destroy is the definition of hubris. It’s a lesson that’s been learned and relearned a thousand times over, from the dawn of history.
Among my favorite Edmund Burke quotes are these:
“No war can be long carried on against the will of the people.”
“A conscientious man would be cautious how he dealt in blood, he would feel some apprehension at being called to a tremendous account for engaging in so deep a play, without any sort of knowledge of the game.”
“I cannot conceive any existence under heaven (which in the depths of its wisdom, tolerates all sorts of things), that is more truly odious and disgusting, than an impotent, helpless creature, without civil wisdom or military skill, without a consciousness of any other qualification for power but his servility to it, bloated with pride and arrogance, calling for battles which he is not to fight, contending for a violent dominion which he can never exercise, and satisfied to be himself mean and miserable, in order to render others contemptible and wretched.”
And finally this one, perhaps most applicable to the U.S. invasions and occupations of both Afghanistan and Iraq:
“The use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment, but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again; and a nation is not governed, which is perpetually to be conquered.”
Over the course of the eighteen months of the presidential campaign, Donald Trump criticized the failed interventionist policies of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, indicating he was open to the possibility of a new relationship with Russia. For this, he was excoriated by the corporate media, the Democratic Party and the usual Republican hawks Lindsey Graham and John McCain. Tellingly, even after an unusually harsh indictment of George W. Bush’s Iraq policy, South Carolina’s conservative voters gave Trump the primary win. Daring and provocative as his debate statements were, Trump was in synch with Republican voters across the country, who had already moved beyond the clichéd arguments of the past and were ready for radically new leadership and new ideas — who were yearning in fact for a foreign policy tethered to America’s own national security.
Before this week is over, President Trump will have met Vladimir Putin for the first time. It is hoped that some of these fundamental questions will be uppermost in his mind and on his agenda:
Is there any natural hostility between the Russian and American people?
Does the Russian regime threaten the USA? If so, how?
What do Russians most fear about the USA?
What do Americans most fear about Russia?
Where do the interests of the Russian and American people collide, if at all?
What measures can be taken by both countries to avoid conflict?
What measures can be taken by both countries to build trust, confidence, and cooperation?
Is there a way for Russia and the USA to join forces in the war against the Global Jihad?
These questions must be answered first, before seeking specific solutions in Syria, Ukraine, or anywhere else. Otherwise, the tail wags the dog. Otherwise, third parties interfere or undermine the process, entangling the major powers in their own regional feuds. Which is exactly how major wars are started. The relationship between the USA and Russia is too important to be defined or delimited by Poroshenko, Assad, Erdewan, Merkel or anyone else. It should be established by Trump and Putin. Once established, genuine problem solving can begin.
It took half a century for the Soviet Union and the USA to incrementally back away from the precipice of nuclear war. President Ronald Reagan, the ultimate anti-Communist, never hesitated to meet with Soviet leaders who were much more of an existential threat than Russia is today. If we are bold and President Trump seizes this moment, we can envisage a world in which the two great nuclear superpowers find ways of working together for both peace and prosperity. This is not wishful thinking or naïve rhetoric. Had Hillary Clinton prevailed last November, this would not be even a remote possibility. With Donald Trump, we can at least try.