Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Operations
Published October 13, 2018 in The Hill
America cannot be great if no one takes us seriously. The good news is that President Trump is making other countries respect us again, which is why leaders from around the world, allies and competitors alike, are lining up to negotiate with him. On Friday, a Turkish court freed American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was arrested two years ago in a government crackdown that followed the 2016 coup attempt. His release is a direct result of the strength forward foreign policy approach of President Trump.
President Trump set out to rebuild our national reputation abroad, which involved undoing the disastrous legacy of President Obama. Before President Trump, American global leadership was eviscerated and squandered. Leading from behind set us back. Barack Obama began his presidency with an apology tour that displayed weakness and submission. This signaled to our enemies a green light to challenge peace.
In 2012, President Obama drew a “red line” in Syria over the use of chemical weapons, a line that he then subsequently neglected to enforce, completely undermining his word and the word of the United States. When a chemical attack in Damascus the following year killed more than 1,500 people, President Obama did absolutely nothing. His inaction on his own “red line” sent a message to power hungry tyrants.
Countries such as North Korea saw this American apathy as an incentive to continue building nuclear missile programs, while Iran played President Obama by getting him to agree to a disastrous deal that President Trump called a “waste” of paper. Meanwhile, ISIS in its rise in 2014 conquered a vast portion of the Middle East, while massacring innocent people and terrorizing communities. The group laid waste to ancient historic sites and brought economic ruin to the region. It happened all because President Obama ignored ISIS, wishfully calling it a “junior varsity” team.
Before the 2016 election, the world had been filled with uncertainty and new threats based on the feckless approach that President Obama took on world affairs. But President Trump put a stop to this cycle of American cowering and capitulation. He is rebuilding American global posture with a bold new foreign policy. When President Trump was told that war with North Korea was inevitable, he asked if President Obama had spoken to Kim Jong Un. Of course the answer was no. So that is exactly what President Trump did, leading to his historic negotiations with Kim Jong Un on denuclearization and peace for the Korean Peninsula.
On the other side of the world, President Trump is making it clear that other countries will not take advantage of American generosity. When he called out our NATO partners for not paying their fair share, he stood up for the American taxpayer, forcing our European allies to show the rest of the world a greater commitment to their own defense, thereby reunifying our allies and putting an unprecedented amount of pressure on Russia. His national security team is now leading NATO to reinventing and modernizing the alliance to be more effective in the 21st century.
Finally, the power of the American economy under President Trump has proven to be the ultimate weapon in bringing rogue nations to heel. The world is reacting affirmatively, not out of fear as much as respect. With President Trump at the helm, our future in the world will remain bright. His vision for the future of American foreign policy is not complicated. It is based on common sense, putting American interests first, and using military strength and economic leverage as sticks and carrots.
Peace through strength is his mantra and leadership by example is his path. Both are working. We should all be grateful that President Trump has kept his pledge to rebuild American leadership on the world stage. This is a crucial step in ensuring American greatness for decades to come.