From the birth of the Republic until 2008, the foreign policy of the U.S. was predicated on one simple principle. Keep the citizenry of the U.S. safe in their beds at night. For well over two centuries, through two world wars and a 70 year confrontation with communism, this principle, so simple as to seem self-evident, served us well.
Enter Barack Obama, who in 2008 up-ended all previous understanding, casting our foreign policy adrift. Guided in equal measures by naïveté, an apparent belief that all the ills of the world could be traced to the misdeeds of Western Europeans and their progeny and hubris, this chaotic "Obama Doctrine" was an unmitigated disaster.
The Russians and Chinese took full advantage of the retreat of American power across the globe. In quick succession Crimea and the entire South China Sea were seized and occupied. What happened in the Mideast made all that look inconsequential.
When Obama arrived on the scene al-Qaida was battered and in disarray. It now has more members by far than it did on 9/11 and is once again threatening the homeland. It's ideological progeny, the so-called Islamic State, has set the heart of the Mideast on fire, and as evidenced by multiple attacks in the United Kingdom this spring, has spread worldwide and has the ability to stage sophisticated attacks in the heart of Western Europe and the United States.
Iran, effectively contained for decades by American policy, is resurgent and on the march from Syria to Yemen. It's creature, Hezbollah, now has military power rivaling that of many NATO nations.
The movement of Iraqi Shia militia organizations like the Badr Corps into Syria directly threatens the territorial integrity of Israel. The intent could not be more clear, as announced explicitly by Hezbollah leadership earlier this year, the next war between Shia Islam and Israel will be fought on Israeli soil.
It will take years to dig out from the damage done by Obama’s catastrophic policy. At least, now, however, we have the framework within which that repair work will be done. Call it the Trump doctrine, an explicit return to the principles of realpolitik with a clear-eyed focus, not on climate change and cultural sensitivity — but on protecting America’s national interests.
As laid out in the president’s recent speech in Riyadh, this doctrine has three key components:
First, Iran is a threat to world peace and regional stability. It is not a constructive partner on the world stage. It cannot be engaged or coopted. It must be contained, and that containment must be the work of a coalition of partners, including the U.S., NATO and the friendly Sunni states of the Mideast.
To that end, the U.S. will not spend its time moralizing, scolding, or attempting to remake other societies. It will focus on alliances, which make sense in terms of confronting the menace posed by Iran, Hezbollah, and their legions of allies and surrogates.
Second, while the U.S. will not attempt to dictate the to other nations how they run their internal affairs it will not ignore actions by Sunni Arab states, which allow or even encourage the spread of Sunni Islamic extremism. Double-dealing will not be tolerated. It is time for the Sunni Arab states, most particularly Qatar at the current juncture, to clean up their acts, shut-off the flow of cash into radical Islamic channels and pick a side. The enemy of my enemy may be my friend. By the same token the friend of my enemy is most certainly my enemy.
Third, United States allies are expected to pull their own weight by financing their defense, and by putting their own boots on the ground. Saudi Arabia, leading the coalition of Sunni states assembled in Riyadh to hear Trump’s views, observed those expectations with a massive purchase of defense materiel and training.
The Kingdom is already battling Iran’s proxies in Yemen and is fighting alongside Americans in combat in Syria. Earlier this week we saw as well Saudi Arabia and Gulf states take decisive action against Qatar based on concerns that nation was too cozy with Iran and Sunni extremists.
Trump’s announcement of this doctrine, maybe the single most important foreign policy speech in a decade, was largely panned by the liberal media in the United States. The reason is predictable enough. This same press largely stood by silently while President Obama watched the world go up in flames. It would be exceedingly awkward to now confront the scope of that disaster and attempt to explain where they have been for years. Better just to look away.
The fact remains, the significance of this speech and the policy changes it portends, would be difficult to overestimate. After years of drift and impotence, the U.S. has returned to the world stage with its old assertiveness, vigor, and resolve.
No longer will we watch helplessly as Tehran wages war on Sunni Islam. No longer will we turn a blind eye to the actions of supposed allies who are working against us behind our backs.
To our friends we say — you could not possibly have a more powerful or resolute ally. To our enemies we say — you could not possibly have a more powerful, resolute, or decisive enemy. Consider your next moves carefully or face the consequences.
Charles "Sam" Faddis is a Veteran, retired CIA operations officer, Assistant Attorney general (Wash.) and published author. With degrees from The Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland Law School, he is a Senior Contributing Editor for Homeland Security Today, contributor to sofrep.com, Newsmax, and The Hill among others. He regularly appears on many networks as a national security and counter-terrorism expert. Sam is the author of "Beyond Repair: The Decline And Fall Of The CIA" and "Willful Neglect: The Dangerous Illusion Of Homeland Security. "To read more of his reports, Click Here Now.
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