Devon Minnema: Need for a coherent foreign policy
After the attacks in Paris, one might have thought that the imperative for action of some type was strong enough to force our middling president to present a plan for dealing with ISIS, but that apparently wasn’t enough. The shooting that occurred in San Bernardino last week has been revealed as an ISIS-inspired act of terrorism and serves as yet another reminder that we need to put together a coherent foreign policy.
The more interesting element of these stories is that no one is really sure what our seemingly despondent president has in mind as a strategy. Or if he doesn’t have one and hopes to dump the problem on whoever gets elected next year. At this point, there are only two paths which we could take that would genuinely protect the safety of American citizens.
The first would be to attack ISIS wholeheartedly. We would have to restore sense to our rules of engagement and let the military do the two things militaries do best; kill the enemy and break things. Laying siege to territory held by ISIS would delegitimize their delusions of establishing the Khalifate written about in the Koran and, in doing so, put a halt to recruiting efforts by exposing them as barbarians rather than righteous servants of Allah.
War, however, is not pretty and it is unlikely that Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton would actively pursue this option as it would require accepting the concept of “acceptable casualties” — a horrible but realistic aspect of war.
We could bomb them into the stone age, not that they have to go very far, but taking off the kid gloves with the air strikes and carpet bombing ISIS strongholds could be effective. The eight strikes a day we are doing now is simply unacceptable, as we have seen. In the first Iraq War, the U.S. carried out thousands of airstrikes per day and guess what? We won the war and we brought our soldiers home.
Whether war is waged from above or from the ground, we need to have a declaration of war that has been voted on by the cowards in Congress. A declaration is Constitutionally required, yet one has not been issued since Vietnam. This is because legislators don’t want to be caught voting for a war that eventually becomes unpopular.
Also we would need an exit strategy. Perhaps we simply leave when ISIS has collapsed and let other countries deal with it, but power vacuums always get filled and another terrorist organization would likely fill it. Or we could stay for generations, fighting insurgency after insurgency, bankrupting ourselves to the delight of the military contractors, and placing one puppet government in charge after another only to watch them wither from being chosen by the big bad Americans.
So what is the second option? Well you won’t hear it from a general on cable TV because it’s simply not sexy and it would require a massive policy shift and require many government contractors to shift their focus completely.
A near total withdrawal from the Middle East, meaning closing bases except for the select few that would be bolstered greatly.
There are currently 44 or more U.S. military bases throughout the Middle East, while there are 27 in all of Africa, an entire continent more than twice the size in land area and far larger in population. The South Pacific, the epicenter for the bad blood between the U.S. and China, has six to eight permanent bases.
Shrink the Middle East’s count down to eight or nine and stay out of countries that frequently double-cross us, like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates who are all technically our “allies” yet give billions of dollars to extremist terrorist groups like ISIS, Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda, and Boko Haram every year. We would then bolster the remaining bases to be damn near impenetrable and capable of defending themselves.
Then reestablish American economic dominance by unleashing American industry from it’s regulatory choke collar and let the free market grow and grow. Use a portion of the savings from not having to fund all those bases to bolster defense systems that protect the homeland, expand the Coast Guard to protect our shores, and put a realistic effort into defending our southern border from infiltration units. The rest of the money can go towards reducing the actual number one threat to America; our deficit.
What about ISIS? Well for one they will eventually collapse under their own weight. We are already seeing the stress lines as more and more secular or semi-converted members join. The end is being eroded by people who are only interested in the means. Additionally, our complete commitment to not getting involved will force Saudi Arabia and the other rich oil countries to face their monster just like Dr. Frankenstein. When ISIS finally collapses, the resulting internal fracas will result, most likely, in a small rogue nation being born and being controlled by a fanatical dictator, most likely Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi or one of his lieutenants.
Yes, a fanatical dictatorship. That’s nothing new in this world …
Perhaps it’s a trained instinct for me at this point to say, “Not our problem,” but the reality is that we are not the only country on this planet. There are plenty who will face the problem if we stop getting involved in every scrum on the globe. President Obama has had the military drop bombs on 7 countries and run extensive air operations over another, while our international standing only continues to deteriorate.
The concept of non-interventionism may seem old-fashioned, but government is old. The concept of the nation is ancient, as well as the concept of the empire. But every empire has eventually crumbled. Perhaps we can be honest with ourselves and simply thrive as a nation.
Devon Minnema is a Woodland College student and fourth generation California farmer. He lives in Dixon.
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User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
I was a Republican for decades. The party chased me out with ideology that was good for the Republican Party but very bad for our country.