Issues & Insights

The Empty Absurdity Of The Democrats’ Dangerous Foreign Policy

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

I&I Editorial

Part 2 of 2

The next Democratic president is likely not only to neglect or ignore national security threats requiring military assertiveness; he or she will subordinate U.S. interests to the will of foreign political elites and use American military might to promote socialism abroad.

Foreign policy has not been a great focus of the Democrats running for president, but that doesn’t negate the party’s increasing radicalism on defense.

Despite continuing to post strong polling numbers, even as his edge begins to weaken, Joe Biden, as he shows his age and continues his gaffes, cannot be expected to take the nomination. But if he were to be elected, expectations that he would conduct foreign policy like Presidents Bill Clinton or Barack Obama are misguided.

While boasting in the CNN debate this month that he’s “spent thousands of hours in the Situation Room” in the White House, Biden as he pushes 80 would be dominated by a young crop of advisers, and considering the state of the Democratic Party’s base it would be a bad bet to imagine that the likes of relative moderates such as current Biden advisers Nicholas Burns and Tony Blinken would be able to hold sway.

But what does the most likely nominee right now, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have in mind? During July’s CNN debate, she sent the unsettling signal that the U.S. “is not going to use nuclear weapons preemptively, and we need to say so to the entire world.” According to Warren, uncertainty about U.S. first use of a nuke “puts the entire world at risk and puts us at risk.”

Quite the contrary.

Warren Collapsing Our Nuclear Umbrella

It may shock many Americans to hear it, but, as Fred Kaplan, author of the forthcoming “The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War,” writer for Slate, and no conservative, recently pointed out, “from the dawn of the atomic age until now, U.S. policy has explicitly stated that we would use nuclear weapons first, if some crisis called for it … The threat of nuclear first-use — the assurance that we would risk New York for Paris, or Washington for London — lay at the heart of the U.S. security guarantee for the NATO alliance. It was — and still is — called ‘extended deterrence’ and the ‘nuclear umbrella.’”

This U.S. policy prevented nuclear war over the course of decades and restrained the expansionist Soviet Union until its collapse. As Kaplan put it with the plainest clarity, “you have to make adversaries believe you’d actually push the button, in order to keep them from getting too aggressive.” And as Kaplan further noted, “the Russian military now has a doctrine of using nuclear weapons first if NATO troops make incursions on Russian territory — mainly as a way of countering America’s supremacy in conventional arms.”

Even Obama decided not to commit never to use nuclear weapons first, although he reportedly came quite close.

But none other than Biden took a position close to Warren’s just days before Trump was inaugurated president, asserting that “deterring — and if necessary, retaliating against — a nuclear attack should be the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.” At the same time, however, Biden conceded, regarding Russia, that “while we have shifted our security doctrine away from our nuclear arsenal, they have moved to rely more heavily on theirs.”

In other words, we’ve weakened ourselves.

The same speech also contains one of Biden’s worst gaffes, be it an entirely unreported one: “Over the past eight years” of Obama-Biden, he said, speaking of what he called the “fatalism” of believing it inevitable that there would always be adversaries possessing nuclear weapons (a viewpoint grounded in realism), “we have rejected inevitabilities.”

That smacks of Gerald Ford contending “there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration.” One can reject a frightening reality as much as one wants, but disbelieving the inevitable doesn’t make it less inevitable.

As to deploying our conventional military, Warren in the last debate, throwing red meat to the party base, let it be known she believes “I don’t think we should have troops in the Middle East … There is no military solution in this region.”

AOC: America Perpetuates ‘The Cycle Of Terrorism’

Then there is the pressure coming from even further left in the party. The colorful and powerful freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who recently flexed her muscle by endorsing Sen. Bernie Sanders (the socialist who calls himself a socialist) over Warren (the socialist who calls herself a capitalist), has her own ideals for a progressive foreign policy.

“Republicans and corporate Democrats seem to find the cash to fund a $1.1 trillion fighter jet program or a $1.7 trillion-dollar nuclear weapon ‘modernization’ program,” AOC scoffed on her campaign website. “The costs are extreme: the Pentagon’s budget for 2018 is $700 billion dollars, all to continue fighting an endless War on Terror and re-fighting the Cold War with a new arms race that nobody can win.”

According to Ocasio-Cortez, the U.S., in its role as the world’s lone superpower, is “in the business of destabilizing countries. While we may see ourselves as liberators, the world increasingly views us as occupiers and aggressors … we must end the ‘forever war’ by bringing our troops home, and ending the air strikes that perpetuate the cycle of terrorism throughout the world.”

Got that? AOC says U.S. military activity is what is responsible for “terrorism throughout the world.”

As Vanderbilt law professor Ganesh Sitaraman wrote this year, “the new progressive foreign policy is highly skeptical of military interventions, and opposed to democracy promotion by force.” A Warren adviser anonymously told the Brookings Institution’s Thomas Wright in September in the Atlantic that “Warren sees force as a last resort, and that when it is employed, she believes there should be an exit strategy, it should be limited, and it should be multilateral, preferably through the United Nations.” The same adviser also told him that Warren “would be taking a close look at the U.S. military footprint in the Asia Pacific. Economic competition would be Warren’s primary focus with regard to China.”

This is remarkable because even George Soros, the deep-pocketed far-left donor, recognizes the seriousness of China’s threat, warning in his Davos speech early this year that if the Beijing-controlled global companies Huawei and ZTE “came to dominate the 5G market, they would present an unacceptable security risk for the rest of the world … The reality is that we are in a Cold War that threatens to turn into a hot one.”

It might grab the party’s base if Warren altered her slogan to “Dream bigfight hard, stay left of Soros.”

Wright further disclosed that “Matt Duss, who serves as Sanders’ foreign-policy adviser, told me that Sanders is ‘against large-scale military interventions or the threat of them …’” (emphasis added).

The Brookings scholar ultimately identifies a fundamental absurdity at the heart of this new progressive foreign policy: Warren and Sanders “would both slash the defense budget and switch the topic away from geopolitical rivalries and toward inequality, economic policy, and democracy. This sets up a fundamental contradiction: Sanders and Warren will be forced to choose between waging the struggle against autocrats and cutting the defense budget and de-emphasizing military power.”

And as Wright points out, “escalating political warfare while pulling back militarily could create an incentive for America’s rivals to test the United States.”

Socialism At Home Is The Best Defense

Another key clue to Warren’s thinking was found in her Foreign Affairs magazine article last November outlining her big ideas about the world. “Inequality has grown worldwide, contributing to an unfolding nationalist backlash that seeks to upend democracy itself,” Warren contends.

Two takeaways here: she believes nationalism is bad; and capitalism is imperiling representative government.

To Warren, even communism is actually capitalism. In mainland China, “corporations that answer to the state make billionaires out of Communist Party elites.” Meanwhile, in Russia, ex-KGB officer Vladimir Putin’s “real power derives from the careful intertwining of his government with state-run corporations conveniently overseen by friendly oligarchs.” Warren views state-managed entities in China and Russia as if they are a manifestation of the free market, and her solution is that we need more state management of business — within America and abroad.

In sync with that, she conjoins her domestic socialist agenda with future U.S. foreign policy, arguing that “actions that undermine working families in this country ultimately erode American strength in the world.” According to Warren, our “singular focus on counterterrorism … has dangerously distorted U.S. policies.” But, somehow, spending tens of trillions of dollars on socialized medicine, college debt forgiveness, and prohibiting the use of fossil fuels will stun our adversaries in the world into inaction — as Warren reduces military spending to “sustainable levels,” using the money saved “to fund other forms of international engagement and critical domestic programs.”

“The Pentagon’s budget has been too large for too long. It is long overdue for an audit,“ she says.

As Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy outlined in his recent manifesto on a new U.S. foreign policy (an article that pretty obviously doubles as a job application for secretary of state in a Warren or Sanders administration), Warren would “reprioritize diplomacy and reinvest in the State Department and the development agencies.” She complains: “The United States spends only about 1% of its federal budget on foreign aid.”

More disturbing still, nearly six years ago Warren gave a major foreign policy speech focusing on the matter of civilian deaths in U.S. military operations, and asserted that “tracking civilian casualties from the first day of any conflict … and making those data publicly available will help us make the best decisions here at home and demonstrate to the world that America takes civilian casualties seriously.”

The loss of innocent bystanders is, unquestionably, one of the most lamentable of the many costs of war, but bending over backward to publicize it is not quite how World War II was won; one thinks of Hiroshima and Dresden.

Van Jackson of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington illuminated another disquieting idea underlying the thinking of politicians of the left such as Warren. “A standard of military sufficiency — as opposed to superiority — is both analytically plausible and more morally congruent with progressive principles,” wrote Jackson last year. “Military sufficiency potentially ties the hands of future presidents, making them less able to launch unilateral wars, and simultaneously increases the likelihood that any conflict involving large numbers of U.S. troops will be multilateral and cooperative. It would also befit the analytical claim — which some on the left already make — that the world is less dangerous than the Pentagon supposes, implying that a posture of military sufficiency would not hazard any great geopolitical risks.”

Considering the fact that the U.S. hasn’t been winning conflicts despite a military vastly superior to any other in the world — witness Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam — to supplant superiority, and have a leftist president’s underestimate of military sufficiency become the new standard, would be the blueprint for a disastrous future of grave U.S. vulnerability.

Condemned To Repeat Bloody Lessons of The Past

The Democratic Party, now more left than ever, has learned nothing from being on the wrong side of history during the Reagan Era. In the course of that climactic chapter of the Cold War, Democrats assured us that Ronald Reagan was a warmonger; his defense build-up was overkill that might well entice a massive Soviet pre-emptive nuclear strike; his vision of a missile defense against atomic attack amounted to, as the much-lionized Sen. Ted Kennedy put it in 1983, “misleading Red-scare tactics and reckless Star Wars schemes.”

The history of that time proved what previous history had already proved: It is weakness, not preparedness, that provokes war. The military superiority of the free world keeps the peace, not multilaterally managed imagined sufficiency, as assessed by politicians eager to raid arsenals for trillions to funnel down the black holes of their discredited domestic schemes masquerading as new ideas.

In a century when weapons are deadlier than ever, the many millions who make up the Democrats’ leftist base, a great deal of them young and mal-educated by our public school system, seem to be begging to be taught the brutal lessons of history by experiencing the bloody mistakes for themselves.

— Written by Thomas McArdle

Read Part 1 of The Empty Absurdity of The Democrats’ Dangerous Foreign Policy.


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