Things happen in cycles. Society shifts from conservative to socialist, from freedom to totalitarianism, from faithful to secular. We are experiencing a similar shift now — from attempting to impose democracy in the world where we had no business doing so, to rationalizing our ability to impact events globally, and applying our limited resources as effectively as we can.
The Bush administration did incredible damage to the country. President Trump is right. We spent trillions and thousands died. If I were a father of one of those who died in the Iraq War, I would be incredibly angry. What did they die for? For the Islamic State to take over the region? The invasion of Iraq was based on faulty intelligence; but it was also based on arrogance. Now Iran has a Shia land bridge from Tehran to Damascus; how is that helping America? Mr. Bush was warned that Iran would take advantage of Saddam Hussein’s overthrow, and they ignored it. That “promoting democracy” in the Middle East didn’t turn out so well.
Of course, America should stand for freedom in the world. However, the world needs to recognize that the United States has to take care of itself for a while. We have massive problems with our own freedoms being eroded in our country, and our financial resources have to be restored to a manageable level. In short, the world needs to take care of itself.
Donald Trump is also right regarding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. What is NATO for? This month, Germany refuses to send additional forces to Syria. The biggest economy in Europe can’t do its part? “Let the Americans waste their blood and treasure!” Berlin said. In other words, we have allies closer to hot spots in the world than our forces. Why can’t they handle things in their own backyard for a while? For God’s sake, Germany is even making itself dependent on Russian gas.
It looks like Europe is now developing its own defense structure. I think that is a good thing and we need to let it happen. Of course, knowing the Europeans, the response to aggression will be ineffective and eventually require American assistance, but hey, we can be optimistic, maybe I’m wrong.
Donald Trump is also correct in his quest to develop workable relationships with repressive governments. Mr. Trump seems to think he can sway dictators with his personality to make decisions which are in America’s interest. So far, he has been correct. The next president most likely will not have those skills, so we’re hopeful Mr. Trump can make great progress in national security issues during his two terms. (Yes, he will be re-elected.)
A perfect example of the geopolitical view I am discussing is the current crisis in Georgia, where civil unrest has resulted from pro-Russian actions by the government. Moscow has implemented economic reprisals, significantly harming the Georgian economy.
Yes, we should support Georgia from a standpoint of promoting democracy in former Soviet-controlled areas. However, Georgians should realize the fiscal and military limitations of the United States. Today as we speak, Georgian leaders are calling for American assistance.
Tbilisi has already suffered a conflict where they lost territory. Realpolitik would suggest that the United States should work to have the two regions solve the situation by themselves. I don’t believe Georgia joining the NATO alliance is a credible option. That is just reality. NATO is becoming too big, an alliance formed of countries that do not hold our values of freedom. Just look at Turkey as an example.
Yes, things are shifting from the Bush “democracy for all and we’ll pay for it” to “take care of yourself and you have our moral support.”
However, the Trump administration also just approved long-requested Javelin anti-tank missiles for the Georgian army — another fantastic example of realpolitik in action.
• L. Todd Wood is a former special operations helicopter pilot and Wall Street debt trader, and has contributed to Fox Business, The Moscow Times, National Review, The New York Post and many other publications. He can be reached at LToddWood.com.