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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Baffled In the Bubble -- or -- How Dishonest Can A Pundit Be

In Politico Magazine, self proclaimed foreign policy expert Aaron Miller calls President Trump's foreign policy "baffling".  Then he goes on to say that Trump is following the policies of Obama and the Republican establishment.  As Miller puts it,

In abandoning almost every foreign policy campaign pledge, President Trump has hewed preternaturally closely to the policies of his Democratic predecessor and the Republican establishment, even while his unsettling personal style, impulsiveness and bracing tweets gives those centrist actions a still impermanent and unpredictable cast.

It's amazing that this supposed "expert" who teaches at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton doesn't see the obvious.  If Trump's foreign policy is baffling, but it follows extraordinarily closely the policies of Obama and the GOP establishment, then our "expert" is saying that Obama's polices were baffling.  He would, no doubt, be horrified at even the suggestion that his hero Barack had a confused foreign policy.

The truth is that professor Miller may be baffled, but it is a bafflement of his own making.  Trump's foreign policy is quite clear.  In two words, it is "America First".  Miller understood that to mean the USA would withdraw from the world and move towards isolationism.  After all, in the 1930s, there was an America First Movement that supported isolationism.  But so what!  That is not what Trump was ever aiming to accomplish.  His foreign policy is designed to put the needs of the American people first.  The USA will act in the national interests of America and Americans at all times.  That does not mean we will withdraw from the world.  Nor does it mean that isolationism will prevail.  It only means that American interests are of primary concerns.

A good example of this policy in action was the missile attack on the Syria air base after the Assad forces used sarin gas on civilians.  It is in the interests of the American people to dissuade any country or group in the world from using chemical weapons.  Those weapons might have hit a village in Syria a month ago, but they could easily hit the New York City subway system in the future.  It is in America's interest for there to be an international consensus that any such use is a war crime immediately punishable by a strong response.  That is part of America First, not contrary to it.

Another example is the response to the North Korean crazy dictator and his missile/nuclear program.  Right now, Kim Jung Un doesn't have the means to launch nuclear armed missiles at Los Angeles or Seattle.  Trump and his spokesmen have made clear that the USA will not accept the NKs ever having that capacity.  Trump could have continued the Obama doctrine of "strategic patience" which is the diplomatic name for kicking the can down the road.  It would keep more harmony among the world's nations and decrease the possibility of war right now.  It would also, however, bring ever closer the day when the crazy man in Pyongyang could incinerate entire American cities with the push of a button.  America First requires action now.

Indeed, while we are at it, let's also make clear that the "expert" professor Miller obviously did not bother to consider Obama's supposed foreign policy before announcing that Trump is following it closely.  When Assad last used sarin gas during Obama's days in the White House, we got to see the Obama policy on that subject.  It consisted of three parts:  first we got dithering.  Obama couldn't decide whether or not to take action.  He didn't even limit himself to dithering in private; his indecision was on full display to the media.  Second, we got Obama running for cover.  He made a deal with Russia and Assad that was clearly designed only for cover.  At the time, any rational observer knew that Assad was going to cheat.  He would never give up all his chemical weapons.  Obama, however, just couldn't bring himself to act.  Third, we got the quintessential policy prescription of the Obama years:  lies and more lies.  Obama and his people told the USA over and over that Assad had given up all his chemical weapons.  For the last year of Obama's term, Assad dropped chlorine gas on civilians across Syria, but Obama and his people just ignored that and kept telling us that Assad had given up all his chemical weapons.  Clearly that was a lie.  Assad even had sarin gas which he used (and then got a real response from Trump.)  It is hard to image two policies more different from each other than Obama's and Trump's.  Inside the bubble, though, professor Miller is just baffled -- or maybe not.  It is possible that Miller understands the actual truth and is just telling lies to cover for his hero Barack.  It doesn't really matter which it is, though.  Miller's opinion is total nonsense. 

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