US Foreign Policy And The Long Game

A couple of weeks ago the lovely Miss Puddy accompanied me to our downtown club for dinner and a talk by Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report.  Mr. Cook gives an insiders view of Washington DC.  His current view of the situation is that none of Trump’s agenda is going to get through congress.  The fact that he has never held a public office helps him with his base but does not help him with getting his agenda through the congress.  Only 9% of his appointments have been approved but only 13% of the possible appointments have been submitted. Trump’s approval rating is around 45% which is quite low for the honeymoon period when he should be getting his agenda pushed through.


If Mr. Cook is indeed correct than there is a chance nothing will really happen until after the mid term elections.  Depending on how those go nothing may happen for the entire 4-year term.


One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a US president is for his domestic policy to be thwarted by congress and then he shifts focus to foreign policy where he has more latitude to implement policy unhindered.  Add to that the 4th turning (from the book “The Fourth Turning by Strauss & Howe) and a major war could be forthcoming.  The cycle is here and it appears the table is all set for major war(s) in the coming years.


Richard Mabury is delighted with this gridlock in government and sites several instances in his latest newsletter where congressmen brandished firearms in 1836; and where Senator Summner was severely beaten on the Senate floor in 1856 and the full on brawl by 30 congressmen in 1858.  Maybury is delighted that the federal government is no longer working together as in most of the 20th century when explosive government growth took place.  He reflects that as long as the federal government is in gridlock they will be irrelevant while the private sector can flourish and the citizens will be able to enjoy more freedom.  I can only hope that he is correct.


When the US government goes abroad with a big stick beating other governments over the head they do not endear themselves to others.  Fear perhaps but not endearment.  China on the other hand seems to be playing a long game and is busy working deals and strengthening economic ties with its Eurasian neighbors along the “one belt, one road” trade corridor as well as other places around the world.


The department of defense should be re-named the department of offense, as there does not seem to be much defense involved.  Political correctness seems to be threatening the US Navy more than its actual enemies abroad.  The latest carrier, the USS Ford just launched and was put into service last month without urinals anywhere onboard the ship.  It also has a new state of the art catapult that has yet to launch or recover an airplane.  To date only helicopters have landed on deck.  The magnetic launch system has a few glitches that the old steam catapults had solved years ago.  A little magic needs to be invented and then it should work perfectly.   Other than the fact that this aircraft carrier cannot launch airplanes its most noteworthy attribute is the cost overruns from 10 billion to around 13 billion (it might be more than 13 as the catapult does not work yet and there is no telling what that “magic” might cost).  There will come a time when we no longer can afford to pursue our post WWII foreign policy.


Earlier this summer we heard an IDF General speak at a small gathering.  His opinion on the Middle East was the Shias in Iran were at war with the Sunnis in Saudi Arabia.  Iran was backing Hezbollah in Lebanon and Israel was quite concerned with all their rockets in Southern Lebanon pointed at them.  He said that all homes built in Israel since the mid 1970s have been required to have a safe room constructed in the middle of the house that can withstand indirect rocket attack and chemical attack.  With their early warning system he felt that the majority of their population could easily survive a conventional attack.  When I asked about China’s OBOR (one belt one road) economic plan through the Middle East and their long-term game plan he said it was not their immediate concern.  He did state that he had visited China on many occasions and that the Chinese government was greatly at odds with the US concerning their long-term goals.


It is hard to say but perhaps the Chinese have already beaten us economically in Eurasia and maybe even Africa too.  Economic ties through trade and then a common currency make for strong friendships and alliances with close by neighbors.


Perhaps our foreign policy should start to stress stronger economic ties with our own North and South American neighbors.  Perhaps start with high-speed rail from Alaska and the Canadian Northeast all the way down to the tip of South America.  We could encourage travel to start with and then encourage friendship and trade.  Wars rarely break out between trading partners.  It just makes so much more sense to work in our own backyard instead of the other side of the world.   We should not abandon trade with Eurasia but we should be realistic and recognize that the Chinese have beaten us at many levels thus far.  We should double our efforts to reach out to our neighbors as respected equal trading partners instead of 3rd world protectorates and work hard to establish travel and trade and friendship throughout North and South America.

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Elizabeth LaBorde

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