President Trump’s Foreign Policy Wisdom

One of the greatest speeches ever given on U.S. soil was President George Washington’s Farewell Address in 1796.  The speech itself was written by Washington, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton.

While it covers many themes, two of those themes are particularly relevant to today -- the problems inherent in political parties to the national interest and the danger of foreign entanglements. 

It was that second topic that really animated much of the speech, with over 1700 words dedicated to it.  This speech was Washington’s last opportunity to provide advice to future generations of Americans before retiring from public life for the good of the nation.   

Washington warned America to “steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world,” while Thomas Jefferson’s inaugural pledge was “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations -- entangling alliance with none.”  

They were not isolationists, but believed the political and military foreign interventions should be defined solely by the national interest and be extremely limited in scope and duration.  Foreign relations should be defined by commercial relations of common interest.  Our Founders were the original make and keep America free and great crowd.

We have completely abandoned the wisdom of the Founders, which is why President Trump’s announcement that he was pulling troops out of Syria was met with such a chorus of horror and disbelief from his own bureaucracy and the media. 

But President Trump is doing exactly what he promised, which is to end forever wars that are not in the national interest while building a strong military to act as a deterrent force.  It is a long overdue return to a foreign policy grounded in the national interest and is in line with his campaign slogans to make and keep American great.     

The media trumpeted that he was acting against the advice of his own State and Defense Department officials, as if that was bad.  The truth is that any president ever pulling U.S. forces back from anywhere must have the moral fortitude to do just that.   

The bureaucracy is completely wedded to permanent interventionist foreign entanglements.  The State Department is loaded with bureaucrats who care far more about the region or country they are assigned to work than U.S. national interests.  Sadly, so is the Defense Department.

Again, Washington had some important advice.  He warned against “imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists” that would force the U.S. into “quarrels and wars” that were not in its interest. 

As Mollie Hemingway noted, there is a “grotesque overrepresentation of a certain foreign policy approach in our pundit class and in our newspapers.”  There is an establishment foreign policy consensus that favors indefinite adventurism all over the globe.  Everyone is pushing the same drug. 

President Trump, as he often does, did the right thing despite fierce opposition from an establishment that thinks it is in charge.  In the latest whistleblower nonsense, note that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who appears to have a strong allegiance to Ukraine, believed the president was subverting U.S. foreign policy.  That’s impossible.  The elected president sets foreign policy.  But, the unelected bureaucracy believes the president works for them and not vice versa. 

While officials like to drone on about exit strategies, we never have one.  It is simply a term used to justify intervention with no real intention of ever leaving.  There is always a reason to stay.  We brag about having U.S. troops in hundreds of countries as if that is a good thing.  It is hard to find many examples where the U.S. military intervened and we have actually completely left.  Vietnam is a rare exception, and Americans are now warmly welcomed there.    

We still have significant forces in Germany, Italy, Korea, and Japan despite the fact that most of the veterans from the great generation who fought in those wars have passed on.  These large troop concentrations cause constant problems.  The situation with Syria and Turkey was complicated by the huge troop presence we have in Turkey. 

But, we blundered the worst in the Middle East and Africa.  We have spent trillions of dollars and many American lives to often act as a force for instability.  We maintain significant forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, and across the Middle East.  We also have a growing footprint across Africa. 

What has that massive investment bought us?  Afghanistan is still a failed state, Iraq is brutally persecuting religious minorities, and Libya is now a failed Islamist state.

We went into Iraq with the belief that we could turn tribal Islamists into liberty-loving Jeffersonian Democrats.  We can’t even accomplish this in America, where the academia-brainwashed younger generation is increasingly pining for tribalism and socialism.

After two decades of active interventions, American political culture has moved more in the direction of the countries to which we are sending our troops than the reverse.  In today’s America, religious freedom is under assault, urban areas are decaying, tribalism is on the rise, government officials have established a de facto two-tiered justice system, and corrupt officials believe they are entitled to power for life.   

We have little national interest in nation building across the globe, particularly when so many of our own areas are decaying to the point where they resemble the places where we are doing nation building. 

So much of the #NeverTrump energy is animated by neoconservatives who never saw a potential war they didn’t love.  Max booted from their positions of influence by a much wiser president, they are babbling inanities into their echo chamber.        

U.S. foreign policy descended into insanity by the time we intervened in Libya, where we started justifying interventions by arguing that there were no discernible U.S. interests.  America’s Founders would not have been able to conceive of an argument so foolish.  

The result of that intervention was fully predictable to anyone who paid even the slightest attention to the preceding failed efforts.  In Libya, there was a secular dictator, Moammar Gaddafi, who had given up weapons of mass destruction and was acting far more responsibly.  We rewarded that good behavior by enabling his Islamist opposition to kill him in the most brutal way imaginable.     

It was this great success that inspired the smug evil witch to proclaim, “We came, we saw, he died!”  In one fell swoop, we ensured that no other dictator would ever willingly stop pursuing or give up weapons of mass destruction.    

If we aided the removal of Bashar Assad, the result would be just as predictable.  Syria would become another hostile and very dangerous Islamist state that acts against our interests.   

The absurdity of the foreign policy establishment’s priorities could be seen by their obsessing about a Syrian-Turkey border on the other side of the globe while showing no interest in securing our own border here at home, a border on what is increasingly a failed state in our own backyard as Mexico descends into chaos

The Mexican government has lost its monopoly on military power, as was recently witnessed when the military was defeated by a drug gang.  That is a direct threat to U.S. national security and will result in an increased flow of people and violence across the border. 

President Trump’s foreign policy looks to the past.  It is a return to the wisdom of our Founders who understood that subordinating U.S. national security interests to foreign countries or foreign bodies was not in our interest.  If he succeeds, it will be against the wishes of most of the political and media class. 

Fletch Daniels can be found on twitter @fletchdaniels.    

One of the greatest speeches ever given on U.S. soil was President George Washington’s Farewell Address in 1796.  The speech itself was written by Washington, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton.

While it covers many themes, two of those themes are particularly relevant to today -- the problems inherent in political parties to the national interest and the danger of foreign entanglements. 

It was that second topic that really animated much of the speech, with over 1700 words dedicated to it.  This speech was Washington’s last opportunity to provide advice to future generations of Americans before retiring from public life for the good of the nation.   

Washington warned America to “steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world,” while Thomas Jefferson’s inaugural pledge was “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations -- entangling alliance with none.”  

They were not isolationists, but believed the political and military foreign interventions should be defined solely by the national interest and be extremely limited in scope and duration.  Foreign relations should be defined by commercial relations of common interest.  Our Founders were the original make and keep America free and great crowd.

We have completely abandoned the wisdom of the Founders, which is why President Trump’s announcement that he was pulling troops out of Syria was met with such a chorus of horror and disbelief from his own bureaucracy and the media. 

But President Trump is doing exactly what he promised, which is to end forever wars that are not in the national interest while building a strong military to act as a deterrent force.  It is a long overdue return to a foreign policy grounded in the national interest and is in line with his campaign slogans to make and keep American great.     

The media trumpeted that he was acting against the advice of his own State and Defense Department officials, as if that was bad.  The truth is that any president ever pulling U.S. forces back from anywhere must have the moral fortitude to do just that.   

The bureaucracy is completely wedded to permanent interventionist foreign entanglements.  The State Department is loaded with bureaucrats who care far more about the region or country they are assigned to work than U.S. national interests.  Sadly, so is the Defense Department.

Again, Washington had some important advice.  He warned against “imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists” that would force the U.S. into “quarrels and wars” that were not in its interest. 

As Mollie Hemingway noted, there is a “grotesque overrepresentation of a certain foreign policy approach in our pundit class and in our newspapers.”  There is an establishment foreign policy consensus that favors indefinite adventurism all over the globe.  Everyone is pushing the same drug. 

President Trump, as he often does, did the right thing despite fierce opposition from an establishment that thinks it is in charge.  In the latest whistleblower nonsense, note that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who appears to have a strong allegiance to Ukraine, believed the president was subverting U.S. foreign policy.  That’s impossible.  The elected president sets foreign policy.  But, the unelected bureaucracy believes the president works for them and not vice versa. 

While officials like to drone on about exit strategies, we never have one.  It is simply a term used to justify intervention with no real intention of ever leaving.  There is always a reason to stay.  We brag about having U.S. troops in hundreds of countries as if that is a good thing.  It is hard to find many examples where the U.S. military intervened and we have actually completely left.  Vietnam is a rare exception, and Americans are now warmly welcomed there.    

We still have significant forces in Germany, Italy, Korea, and Japan despite the fact that most of the veterans from the great generation who fought in those wars have passed on.  These large troop concentrations cause constant problems.  The situation with Syria and Turkey was complicated by the huge troop presence we have in Turkey. 

But, we blundered the worst in the Middle East and Africa.  We have spent trillions of dollars and many American lives to often act as a force for instability.  We maintain significant forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, and across the Middle East.  We also have a growing footprint across Africa. 

What has that massive investment bought us?  Afghanistan is still a failed state, Iraq is brutally persecuting religious minorities, and Libya is now a failed Islamist state.

We went into Iraq with the belief that we could turn tribal Islamists into liberty-loving Jeffersonian Democrats.  We can’t even accomplish this in America, where the academia-brainwashed younger generation is increasingly pining for tribalism and socialism.

After two decades of active interventions, American political culture has moved more in the direction of the countries to which we are sending our troops than the reverse.  In today’s America, religious freedom is under assault, urban areas are decaying, tribalism is on the rise, government officials have established a de facto two-tiered justice system, and corrupt officials believe they are entitled to power for life.   

We have little national interest in nation building across the globe, particularly when so many of our own areas are decaying to the point where they resemble the places where we are doing nation building. 

So much of the #NeverTrump energy is animated by neoconservatives who never saw a potential war they didn’t love.  Max booted from their positions of influence by a much wiser president, they are babbling inanities into their echo chamber.        

U.S. foreign policy descended into insanity by the time we intervened in Libya, where we started justifying interventions by arguing that there were no discernible U.S. interests.  America’s Founders would not have been able to conceive of an argument so foolish.  

The result of that intervention was fully predictable to anyone who paid even the slightest attention to the preceding failed efforts.  In Libya, there was a secular dictator, Moammar Gaddafi, who had given up weapons of mass destruction and was acting far more responsibly.  We rewarded that good behavior by enabling his Islamist opposition to kill him in the most brutal way imaginable.     

It was this great success that inspired the smug evil witch to proclaim, “We came, we saw, he died!”  In one fell swoop, we ensured that no other dictator would ever willingly stop pursuing or give up weapons of mass destruction.    

If we aided the removal of Bashar Assad, the result would be just as predictable.  Syria would become another hostile and very dangerous Islamist state that acts against our interests.   

The absurdity of the foreign policy establishment’s priorities could be seen by their obsessing about a Syrian-Turkey border on the other side of the globe while showing no interest in securing our own border here at home, a border on what is increasingly a failed state in our own backyard as Mexico descends into chaos

The Mexican government has lost its monopoly on military power, as was recently witnessed when the military was defeated by a drug gang.  That is a direct threat to U.S. national security and will result in an increased flow of people and violence across the border. 

President Trump’s foreign policy looks to the past.  It is a return to the wisdom of our Founders who understood that subordinating U.S. national security interests to foreign countries or foreign bodies was not in our interest.  If he succeeds, it will be against the wishes of most of the political and media class. 

Fletch Daniels can be found on twitter @fletchdaniels.