The Trump foreign policy: year one
Armstrong Williams | 1/18/2018, 5:05 p.m.
As the completion of the Trump administration’s first year comes into focus, it is difficult to sift through the loud drumbeat of Russian collusion and the endless noise that emanates from the mainstream media about the shortcoming and failures of the Trump administration. Despite all the noise, false statements and reckless claims that the world is ending, the inexperienced outsider who came to Washington Jan. 20, 2017, has produced some important surprises and clear, measurable gains overseas in his first year in office. In just under one year, the president has managed to slow and ultimately halt the slide of United States’ credibility and influence on the world stage. Respect him or fear him, across the world, every national leader who matters knows there is a new sheriff in Washington, D.C.
The Russia policy arena is a good place to start, now that a bright light is shining on what the Obama administration did over the past eight years. Russia exploited the opportunities created by feckless Obama policy statements and decisions such as “leading from behind,” the Russian “reset,” the Syrian “red line” on chemical weapons and the Hezbollah drug trafficking decisions, to name just a few.
The course reversal and the display of resolve, coupled to a willingness to risk, has made Russia and other major global players sit up and take notice of this man from Queens, N.Y. The actions and results of the Trump policy changes have become impossible to ignore. In 2013 Obama ended 69 years of stability on the European continent when he reduced Americans armored combat capacity to just two armored brigades. Putin answered that foolish decision with an invasion of Ukraine, and within a year, moving a significant special forces and air combat capability into Syria, while propping up the Assad regime and cementing his alliance with Iran in the Middle East theater.
President Trump quickly moved to address the shortsighted national security decisions that provided both opportunity and advantage to Russia. Trump initiated arms shipments to Ukraine, changed the rules of engagement and force structure in the Iraq-Syria theater to counter ISIS and tilt the Kurdish balance of power in Syria. The president crafted and initiated new sanctions efforts on Russia, Putin regional allies and business contacts and Iran.
Along with these moves, the quiet change in the U.S. military rules of engagement in Iraq and Syria, coupled with a most lethal application of special forces operational capacity and increased operational tempo, resulted in the near destruction of ISIS capacity to make war. The strategic decision to arm our Syrian Kurdish allies resulted in the elimination of the ISIS capability in Syria. The defeat of ISIS in Syria, specifically in Raqqa, the declared capital of the Islamic Caliphate, barely made the news cycle in the U.S. mainstream media.
The Trump administration’s first trip abroad, to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Rome to meet with the pope, was a bold but risky step that signaled the administration’s willingness to meet directly with the leadership of the three largest religions. The predictions of calamity, broadcast by the media, and the dismissal by the Washington elites of this bold approach, was countered by Trump with blunt discussions, new ideas and positive results at every stop.