Verities are being disputed
For the first time since the 1950s, presidential candidates from each major party, Republican and Democratic, are challenging decades-old American foreign policy doctrine.
Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has questioned U.S. involvement in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. He says NATO may be obsolete. He says our membership is a bad deal and wants the European countries to pay more of their promised obligations to defend themselves.
Trump also questions why America should be involved in the dispute between the European Union and Russia over Ukraine. Why don’t the Europeans and the Russians hash it out? Why is Ukraine so important to America?
Russian jets recently flew very close to a US warship in the Baltic Sea. American media reported one side of the story—Russian provocation. No one questions why this ship is part of a “U.S. European Command”—or that, although in international waters, it was very close to a Russian naval base and its cruise missiles could hit the major Russian city of St. Petersburg.
When the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union dissolved, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President George H.W. Bush (41) had an agreement that, in return for the peaceful dismantling of the Warsaw Pact between the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, NATO would not expand close to the Russian borders.
Instead, nearly all the countries in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States joined NATO, putting potentially hostile troops and missiles right up to Russia’s border. Even Turkey, a nation that has fought over a dozen wars with Russia, joined, putting NATO on Russia’s southern border.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been called a “thug,” a “bully” and worse by Republican presidential candidates—but not by Trump. Trump says he and Putin can work together.
Putin does not want to be America’s ally (not that we would ask). He does not want to be our enemy, either. He simply wants to put Russia’s interests first. Russia is wary of being fully integrated into the West, including too much involvement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Russia has its own alliances. The BRICS alliance (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) is one. Putin’s Russia looks East more than West, signing trade and security deals with China and other Asian countries.
Trump, who says he wants what is best for America, understands that Putin thinks the same way about his country. Nearly all of the other Republican candidates for president said they wouldn’t even talk to Putin, would make him “back down,” would even “punch Russia in the nose” as Governor Kasich so elegantly put it. Trump does not play by that Washington Playbook.
Neither does Sen. Bernie Sanders. In his New York presidential debate with former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Sanders brought up the plight of the Palestinian people. Bernie dug the knife in deep when he said that Clinton barely mentioned the Palestinians in her keynote speech to the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) meeting. The only Jewish candidate for President, Sanders did not attend, and his video statement was not shown.
Sanders believes the Israeli response to the Hamas rockets from Gaza, which were little more deadly than fireworks, was disproportionate in the number and type of casualties and the economic devastation inflicted on the people of Gaza. Many of our European allies feel the same. For a major party presidential candidate to say this to the former secretary of state was extraordinary. And the audience cheered!
Will this election actually help end the corrupt foreign policy consensus that has cost America so much in blood and treasure?