Now that the most wanted man in the world finally has been dispatched to his rightful place in hell through the heroism of human and canine alike, all Americans have reacted with unrestrained applause at both the practical and symbolic meaning of the demise of Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi. That is, all Americans other than impeachment-obsessed Democrats still trying to remove the Commander-in-Chief from office and now forced to put themselves on the record for all to see.
While it is tempting to spike the ball and declare victory, as this daring raid reasserts America’s unparalleled military might, and then move on, it is important to pause for a moment and note that the operation to decapitate the decaying remnants of the ISIS snake holds a far greater significance when considered in the context of President Donald Trump’s multiple initiatives in that tinderbox region in recent days.
In fact, we may have just experienced a textbook trifecta of Trump’s America First policies: first, remove our forces from danger when vital national interests are not in play; second, negotiate a peace deal; third, search for and destroy America’s terrorist enemies.
But more importantly, this moment may represent nothing less than a watershed, perhaps even a turning point or an about-face, in the entire American foreign policy mechanism of the last 75 years.
First, Trump made a decision based on a pivotal question: Should the U.S. involve itself in the middle of an imminent region-wide conflict in northern Syria involving Turkey, Russia, Iran, their respective proxies and associated terrorist organizations, and possibly even China? Up until this president took office, the decision would almost certainly have been to keep America’s troops in harm’s way due to larger geopolitical concerns, fear of angering our allies – and, of course, the biggest reason of all: oil.
But as we have learned in most vivid fashion over these last three years, Trump is anything but a typical president. He is serious about keeping his campaign promises, often while damning the torpedoes aimed at his heart from the left. And while immigration, jobs, and the economy were at the heart of his 2016 campaign, a promise of at least equal if not greater weight was Trump’s stated commitment to end the cycle of foreign entanglements that have exacted a cost in talent and treasure that is no longer acceptable to the American people — if it ever was.
Trump was clear as a candidate and as president that he would follow what can best be described as a “Jacksonian” foreign policy. Named for the other most renowned populist in the roster of American presidents, Andrew Jackson, it advances the belief that the U.S. must project extreme military strength but use such might only when absolutely necessary to protect demonstrably vital American interests. It is not dissimilar to the foreign policy of President Ronald Reagan, who like Trump pushed through a massive rebuild of a diminished U.S. military and yet ensured the demise of the Soviet Union without firing a shot.
But Trump was just as unambiguous, though more understated, in his commitment to one of the most overlooked items on his agenda that would render involvement in the Middle East unnecessary: energy independence. It means no more foreign wars fought over oil. And with the fracking revolution unleashed over the last decade and an administration committed to radical deregulation, we are by most measurements at least 90% of the way to self-sufficiency. Think about the enormous ramifications of no longer relying on unstable and corrupt regimes halfway around the world for our everyday energy needs.
Indeed, we are living through an extraordinary era. The voters of 2016 had reached a state of disconnection with and repulsion at the political establishment of both parties so intense that they were willing to reject the establishment hacks they had been dealt for all time and roll the dice on the quintessential joker in the deck named Trump. It was a result that would have been unthinkable at any other juncture in American history. And there may be no greater disconnect between the people and the politicians than on this central question: For what causes are American lives worth sacrificing?
There is simply no way the American people support our involvement in a war thousands of miles away to protect people nobody knows or cares about and involves almost every major adversary or enemy on the planet. To what end? And when does it end? Is this a permanent presence? Was the message from voters in 2016 not crystal clear on the matter of foreign entanglements and quagmires such as the one involved in this 20-mile stretch of sand in northern Syria?
And yet Trump was broadly condemned not just by Democrats and leftists performing an about-face on their historical pacifism, but by neoconservative establishment Republicans, typified by Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), accustomed to flipping the power button on the war machine at the first sign of trouble.
But then, as the hysteria in the encrusted and entitled foreign policy establishment rose to a fever pitch, Trump announced a five-day ceasefire and then a “permanent” ceasefire, while tamping down expectations that anything in the Middle East is actually permanent.
So now, based on the decisions of this president, we have American troops removed from the line of fire, a cessation of hostilities in the region, and the demise of the world’s most wanted terrorist. Time to congratulate the president on a job well done, right? Of course not.
Credit Where It’s Due
The naysayers have warned us of many dangers we never were apprised of in the wake of President Barack Obama’s takedown of Osama bin Laden. First, ISIS fighters will be awfully upset that the U.S. killed their leader and will seek reprisals. Second, it doesn’t really matter because our allies in the region will never count on us again after our “abandonment” of the Kurds, a group of people entirely unknown to the vast majority of Americans. Third, the president did not inform Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) or other Democratic leaders about the raid. (Could it be that Trump might have believed the Dems would undercut the operation? What could possibly lead him to believe such a thing?)
If ever there was a single moment, among many, that revealed the true motives of leftists, their willingness to attack Trump for anything, and their total disconnect from ordinary Americans, it was the immediate aftermath of this triumphant takedown of an evil terrorist kingpin. After airing their complaints, Democrats only begrudgingly admitted under klieg light-style questioning that Trump deserves an ounce of credit. And that night, Trump was greeted with a deafening chorus of boos and chants of “lock him up” at the World Series in the home of the Washington Nationals, now enshrined as MLB’s deep state franchise.
A New Relationship
This moment in time beckons us to reconsider our relationship with the rest of the world, much of which continues to criticize us while relying on us for protection and stability. We have troops stationed in more than 100 countries three-quarters of a century after the end of World War II. In the years following the war, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed to coordinate and collectivize Western defenses against the Soviet threat. Since that threat ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union three decades ago, what exactly is the present purpose of this organization? And since the E.U. was formed to compete economically against the U.S., have not the terms of engagement altered to the point of being virtually unrecognizable in their original form? And yet, when Trump refused to take up arms against a fellow member of this long-cherished 28-nation NATO alliance, Turkey, he was condemned by the same crowd that attacked him for daring to hold these allies — finally — to their agreement to pay their fair share of the common defense.
Trump’s America First policies have resulted in our withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, globalist schemes typical of the longstanding foreign policy elite and typically incompatible with American sovereignty. He has at last made good on repeated promises by previous presidents to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. He has eschewed multilateral negotiations in favor of direct discussions with reviled dictators who previously were isolated from the world, most notably Kim Jung-Un of North Korea.
And then there’s Russia, still cited by Democrats as colluding with Trump despite a two-year fishing expedition by Trump-hating investigators that proved the opposite. The president has poured tens of billions of new dollars into our military, gone directly after European energy markets dominated by Russia, struck Russia’s Syrian allies with a devastating air attack, imposed sanctions on them, and expelled their diplomats, among other things. Are these the actions of a Russian asset? Through all of this, few seem to acknowledge or even realize that Russia is no longer a superpower or even a true world power. Its economy is about one-third the size of that of the United States, it no longer ranks even among the world’s top ten economies, it is dangerously reliant on the single commodity of oil, and it is in no position to pose an existential threat to anyone.
The National Interest
But this is the ultimate question that begs an answer: Now that Trump has broken the mould of reflexive support for military operations deemed vital by the foreign policy elites, can we ever go back? Now that the toothpaste out of the tube, can it ever be put back in? Will the American people ever again, or at least for the foreseeable future, support the reversal of Trump’s policy and the deployment of American troops for purposes not widely considered vital to our national interests?
The elites — our betters, the “best and brightest” sent to our nation’s capital — have been entrusted with decisions on war and peace for as long as we can remember. The voters’ judgment is that they have failed. And with Trump uniquely positioned to upset the elitist applecart, they have been presented with a challenge they could never have expected until Trump famously descended that escalator in Trump Tower.
This is what real change looks like. This is what ending endless wars looks like. This is how it looks to remove the power of life and death from the hands of those who have proven unworthy of it and return it to those who have the interests not of the globe but of America at heart.