Glimmer of hope
With Donald Trump’s dismissal of John Bolton, a glimmer of hope can be seen in the conduct of foreign policy. Of course, there is always Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to push the hardline particularly against Iran. But, at least, Trump had the will to get rid of Bolton who even his boss claimed waned to go up against the world.
But, although Bolton is gone, his spirit lives on, pushed predictably by Lindsay Graham and Democrats. Regarding the Ukraine which Congress awarded 250 million dollars in military aid, Democrat Dick Durbin in concert with Graham pushed Trump into releasing the money. Trump reluctant to intervene wisely held the aid back. After all the Ukrainian and Russian governments struck a deal on prisoner exchanges without American interference. Democrats, ever eager to discredit the president, joined hawkish Republicans.
Indeed the zeal in which both parties want to saddle Trump with a foreign policy he does not want is intense. This same coalition that gave us Iraq and a never ending war in Afghanistan, seemingly desires to continue these disastrous policies in perpetuity. Trump eager to find a way out finds fewer takers in Congress. So much for change in 2018.
It is understandable that some Republicans are reluctant to give up their hawkish ways, but Democrats are harder to fathom. They have no alternative, if they came to power they will probably bring back James Mattis or some H.R. McMaster knockoffs. No wonder they do not discuss foreign affairs in their debates — because they have nothing but a neo-Conservative, pardon me, neo-Liberal version. What ever it is, it is not new.
Same for tariffs on Chinese goods, Democrats agree in principle but they disagree in detail or so they claim. Much like the Republican criticism of President Harry Truman, they applaud the war in general but wanted “to win.” Not much to extract from that position. So Bernie Sanders in essence agrees with Trump but, also jabs at particulars regarding Chinese trade. And of course they all want to jump on the Hong Kong issue — even Trump correctly avoids referencing the dispute.
So where did Democrats have disagreements with Bolton? Despite all the remarks belittling him, the Democrats defended him after he was relieved.
Well, Bolton wanted to stay in Kabul and Trump did not, that broke the tie on whom Democrats disliked most.
As the historian T. Harry Williams once observed about Huey Long’s opponents which was their inability to recognize when he was right instead of reflexively disagreeing.
Has Vietnam and the Iraq War taught us anything?
Providing that Trump does not yield to pressure and start a war — he could very well win on issues of war and peace. So far, he has not knuckled under to the national-security state. Indeed, he has been impressive in an unprecedented resistance to the so-called experts.
Anytime Trump tries anything original he manages to forge or help to forge unusual coalitions.
As with President Dwight Eisenhower, Trump has tried to “thaw” the new Cold War. But as Eisenhower found with Hungary and Suez in 1956, it is hard to resist the intervention’s. However, so far he has. Let’s hope the continues to resist.