Endless Wars And Endless Election Campaigns - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Opinion

Endless Wars And Endless Election Campaigns

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Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2019 1:13 pm | Updated: 12:28 pm, Mon Oct 28, 2019.

Watching the latest Democrat debate, I thought for a moment that I was watching one of the opening political skits on Saturday Night Live. There was Joe Biden having multiple senior moments when he couldn’t seem to remember what he was trying to say or had just said. Elizabeth Warren did a hilarious impersonation of Claude Raines’ character in “Casablanca” when she feigned shock at the notion that “anyone thinks she’s punitive.” And there was Bernie Sanders, more animated than ever, to demonstrate that he was still alive and ready to fight for socialism. The campaign has over a year to go and already it seems like it’s been going on forever.

We spend far too much time on politics and political campaigns. Meanwhile, the country seems preoccupied with the impeachment charade which is a huge distraction from what should be serious debate over the important issues that divide us and a directionless foreign policy that appears to be guided by amateurs who refuse to listen to those with experience in these matters.

President Donald Trump’s precipitous decision, after a phone call to Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to pull American forces from northern Syria raised concerns among our allies as to the value of an American commitment or promise. It was widely viewed as abandoning the Kurds who were our allies in the fight against ISIS. It also creates a vacuum which Russia, Iran and Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, will gladly fill, the latter causing grave concern to our most important ally in the region, Israel.

It isn’t the first time that our commitment and resolve to see a conflict through to a satisfactory conclusion has been questioned. We used to fight to win. The Korean Conflict stalemate ended that, followed by Vietnam when lack of support from Congress and the media and public fatigue over the lengthy conflict and mounting casualties caused us to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and abandon our South Vietnamese allies. And instead of removing Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War, we declared victory after liberating Kuwait, only to decide later that we had to return to finish the job, but only after a premature drawdown. The Obama Administration drew a red line in Syria over Bashar al- Assad’s use of chemical weapons and then ignored his crossing of that line. We remain bogged down in Afghanistan after two decades, America’s longest war, with no end in sight. Have we forgotten how to win? What happened to the policy of not committing to foreign wars without a clear exit strategy?

We have also sometimes failed to back allies under pressure. We shamefully withdrew diplomatic recognition from the Republic of China (Taiwan), a democracy, under pressure from the People’s Republic of China, a totalitarian communist state that treats dissent harshly as we are seeing in Hong Kong and elsewhere in mainland China.

Does an American commitment mean anything anymore or should it contain a disclaimer that the commitment may expire with the next election or perhaps even sooner in the event of a divided U.S. government. This can greatly reduce our ability to influence world events to our advantage. We need to figure out a way to provide our remaining allies with credible assurance that we will keep our commitments to them in spite of changing administrations and the public mood at the moment or we will find ourselves with no allies at all.

Would we, for example, use military force to protect, say, Estonia, a tiny country bordering Russia which could be overrun by Russian tanks in a matter of hours. Estonia is a member of NATO as are we. An attack on any member state is considered an attack on all members and an act of war, committing us to its defense. How about Israel or Taiwan? We have defense agreements with both. Would we stand by them or would that depend on who’s in the White House? Exactly what is our policy on these matters or do we even have a clear one. Shouldn’t the people know what we are committed to?

Part of our problem, I am convinced, is that we are much too pre-occupied by political campaigns which take up far too much time. A presidential term of only four years means that an incumbent spends about a third of his or her first term campaigning for re-election. For members of the House of Representatives, the term is two years and they are campaigning for re-election throughout their entire term. This is bound to be a distraction and is a colossal waste of money and time. A single term of six years would be so much better. Perhaps it would even result in more stable foreign policy. Meanwhile, our allies would be well advised to rely only on our commitments that come in the form of treaties ratified by the U.S. Senate and not just rely on our word which is perishable and may have a very short shelf life.

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