- - Sunday, February 26, 2017


The United States needs a grand strategy to guide its foreign policy. The Trump Doctrine should announce boldly that America is back in the world leadership business and that it stands resolutely for peace. America should call out countries that threaten world peace and form military alliances with their neighbors to confront them.

America’s containment strategy during the Cold War was well-known and broadly accepted. Post-Cold War we have not had a grand strategy of comparable usefulness and broad acceptance. Today’s international relations are clearly in a state of turmoil and there is a clamor for a new set of guiding principles. President Trump should promote a new international grand strategy of American peace alliances.

The key premise for this strategy is that America clearly announce to the world that it is ready to lead again — and not from behind. It remains the indispensable nation that must always be involved in the world and lead peace-loving countries. American world leadership is perfectly consistent with Mr. Trump’s America First policy: America cannot retreat into isolationism and remain prosperous and at peace.

The objective of this policy is to preserve peace. Importantly, unlike past American foreign affairs strategies, this policy’s aim is not to promote democracy. Most of the time, America has been unsuccessful when effecting regime change to promote democracy.

Peace is the moral high ground of international relations and America must reclaim it for itself and its allies. America must lead a global communications campaign challenging the mythology of global anti-Americanism that the United States is a warmonger.

America must recruit allies among the peacebreaker’s neighbors and work with them to preserve peace. It is one of America’s greatest strategic assets that most of the world wants to be allied with it. Still, America and its allies must also announce their readiness to confront the peacebreakers by military means if necessary.

The need for alliances reflects the reality that America alone cannot be the military guarantor of world peace. On his trip to Europe, Vice President Pence reaffirmed America’s commitment to NATO but also reminded its members of Mr. Trump’s request that they pay their agreed-to contributions. Furthermore, a multi-state alliance of America in concert with the peacebreakers’ neighbors would be more persuasive and powerful than America alone. NATO is a good precedent for this new strategy. A military alliance, it was created by peace-loving nations facing Soviet expansionism in Europe. NATO never fought a war against the Soviets, but its resolute stance contributed to the ultimate dismemberment of the Soviet empire. American peace alliances might have a less formal structure and last for a shorter time than NATO. Forming alliances will be harder in other parts of the world, particularly in the Middle East.

American peace alliances would not supplant the U.N. — they would supplement it. Despite its many imperfections, the U.N. is irreplaceable in preserving world peace. The American peace alliances would invoke principles and laws agreed upon by the international community within the U.N. framework, and would attempt to engage the UN as much as possible.

An American peace alliance should be set up in the Pacific. Economically ascendant China has become more confrontational militarily. It is challenging the status quo regarding islands and maritime rights in the South China Sea, bringing it in conflict with the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brunei, Taiwan, and Malaysia. China is adding sand to existing reefs to create man-made islands on which it places military assets. To the north, China is claiming the Japanese islands and reefs of Senkaku. The Chinese navy is engaging in provocative actions to intimidate its neighbors.

In his confirmation hearing, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called these actions a threat to the entire world economy and promised that America will confront China. A helpful step in this direction would be to create a Pacific peace alliance led by America and including the above countries, plus India, South Korea, and Australia. The alliance’s members should denounce China’s peace breaking actions in a global communications campaign, hold joint naval exercises, and help each other increase their military capabilities. China would face a formidable alliance were it to continue with its aggressive actions.

The majority of the world clamors for America to lead and Mr. Trump must accept this responsibility. America and its allies must take the moral high ground and announce boldly that their preeminent goal is peace. At the same time, the combined military might of America and its allies must be so overwhelming that peacebreakers are discouraged from continuing on their course. Ronald Reagan spoke of peace through strength. It worked then and it will work again now, for both America and its allies.

• Dan Negrea is a New York private equity investor.

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