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Presidential Foreign Policy Mistakes

November 3, 2019

Only Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, among recent Presidents, brought extensive experience and interest in foreign policy, and though Nixon made few strategic mistakes, he failed to understand that his principal foreign policy advisor, Henry Kissinger, was skeptical of the ability of the United States to win in a contest with a totalitarian USSR.

Kissinger just lacked the common sense and optimism of his fellow American citizens.

And both Kissinger and Nixon were “Internationalists” who sought resolution of conflict in “international” law, organizations and agreements.

Gerald Ford wasn’t in office long enough to make mistakes in foreign policy, but had he not been defeated, Ford would share the Kissinger/Nixon policies. Jimmy Carter, also an “Internationalist” could not bring himself to take decisive action and assured the  survival of Islamic radicals in Iran. Bill Clinton involved us in Bosnia–of all places–and George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush made mistakes with respect to Iraq for which we’re paying a blood price today.

With no government experience and only a showman’s marketing ability, President Trump brings no strategic views to American foreign policy, in the absence of which he utilizes a “Like” test.

If a leader “likes” Trump, he’s a friend.

Kim Jong-un of North Korea, Erdogan of Turkey, Xi Jinping of the PRC, and Putin “like” Trump and are “strong” which, for a President who admires strength, is a plus.

Three years into Trump’s first term, our principal adversaries–Russia, the PRC and Iran–have sized-up this President’s weaknesses and are preparing to advance their national interests.

Russia will seek to occupy Ukraine, the Mullahs in Iran will exploit their ability to control supplies of oil and the PRC will weaken America’s ties to South Korea, take control of the Republic of China on Taiwan and plot revenge against Japan for what they did to China in World War II.

If we ask, whom can we turn to for a better, strategic, foreign policy, the answer is no one.  We’ll simply have to take our lumps as we have since Pearl Harbor, Korea and Vietnam and respond as best we can.

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