May 19, 2024

in Retreat

Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
America in retreat
By Douglas Cohn
          WASHINGTON — America is in retreat and not only in Afghanistan. My book, “The President’s First Year” is subtitled: “None were prepared; some never learned – why the only school for presidents is the presidency.” The book was written before the presidencies of Donald Trump and Joe Biden, but they followed suit.
          Trump immediately took the nation out of the Transpacific Partnership, a trade agreement among Pacific Rim nations intended to isolate China. Emboldened, China struck its own deals with some of those nations while simultaneously turning the South China Sea – where one-third of the world’s sea commerce passes – into a Chinese lake, building military base after base on every real or artificial island, rock, or outcropping it could find and without regard for other nations’ claims.
        America’s response: the U.S. 7th Fleet ran and continues to run freedom-of-navigation operations through an increasingly shrinking gauntlet of water, causing America’s long-time ally and communist opponent, Taiwan, to shudder.
        Trump also initiated his “America First” policy, a euphemism for isolationism, causing NATO nations such as Germany to make overtures to Russia.
        Trump also vowed to take our troops out of Afghanistan, a nation we had helped free itself of the Taliban, the Islamic fundamentalists who housed the al Qaeda terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attack on America.
        Enter the Biden presidency, and we are witnessing a doubling down of Trump’s errors. U.S. troops were abruptly pulled out of Afghanistan, leaving that nation open to a resurgent Taliban, only to act shocked that those jihadists were quickly overrunning the country. True, the Afghan government is corrupt, so we can justify a pullout as zealotry fights greed – which, of course, is nothing more than a rationalization for retreat, a rationalization that ignores the plight of the Afghan people and threat to global security posed by a jihadist theocracy that is the Taliban.
        Such events reverberate, and the Taiwanese can only look upon the United States as an unreliable ally. Without firing a shot, China is advancing – even making nice with the Taliban – on several fronts, not the least of which is the South China Sea as well as the East China Sea, a combination that encompasses Taiwan. Already, what was once a small pro-unification movement in Taiwan, is now gaining strength in its push to join (surrender to) China.
        What, then, can prevent both the fall of Afghanistan and Taiwan? Certainly not a continuation of America First isolationism. Afghanistan can be saved in the same manner the Obama administration saved Iraq from ISIS jihadists through a redeployment of military force. This would require a bold admission of error by Biden. After all, he was not elected to be reelected; he was elected to govern with judgment and courage. And the corrupt Afghan government can be heavily influenced and bypassed, with aid going directly where it is required.
        And Taiwan? The U.S. needs to team up with the other nations claiming portions of the South and East China Seas such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. In concert, these nations need to emulate China’s strategy of occupying or creating islands in the region, all under the protection of the U.S. 7th Fleet.
        In short, the United States needs to reinitiate the policy of reassertion begun by Pres. George H.W. Bush, when U.S. and allied forces saved Saudi Arabia and Kuwait from Iraqi aggression. That highly successful operation – Desert Storm – brought America back from the retreat in Vietnam. Pres. Obama’s later intervention in Iraq against ISIS continued that policy. But what is going on in Afghanistan and the South and East China Seas threatens to once again undermine America’s peace-through-strength moral and military superiority. America cannot survive in retreat.
          Douglas Cohn’s latest books are World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers) and The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency.
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2021 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

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