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OPINION | Gorka: America is back with the first 6 months of Trump

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Donald Trump won the presidential election against Hillary Clinton with a very simple message: I will fix the economy, build the wall and destroy ISIS.

In this, he channeled the simplicity of Ronald Reagan’s own election platform. Then-Gov. Reagan promised to restore Americans’ faith in our nation, to fix the economic “malaise” of the Carter years and to defeat the Soviet Union once and for all.

For the Trump campaign, and now the Trump administration, our approach is summarized under the “Make America Great Again” motto, or #MAGA.

{mosads}However, winning an election is not the same as governing or implementing a policy agenda once in office. Bumper stickers saying MAGA make for effective political communication, but do not automatically translate by themselves into policies or grand strategy.


Now, as the Trump administration marks six months in office, observers, allies and enemies are asking: How does the MAGA message translate into American foreign and national security policy under America’s new commander in chief?

Soon, President Trump will issue America’s new national security strategy. But given the very high operational tempo of the last 25 weeks, thanks in large part to the challenges and outright threats we inherited, the key principles of the Trump foreign policy have already been laid down.

The first principle of our administration is plain for all to see. America is back. And under President Trump, so is American leadership. American influence is a global good and this recognition is a first step toward advancing our leadership, which in turn can help set the conditions for the security and prosperity of the United States and its allies. The era of apologizing for America is over.

We have openly rejected the passive and reactionary ideas central to the Obama years, especially “leading from behind” and “strategic patience.” It is our key assumption that a world without American leadership, in which the president does not forcefully stand up for the eternal truths upon which the republic was founded, is a very dangerous world. And the last eight years proved us right.

When America withdraws from the world, and when we apologize for our civilizational values and our culture, those who have other values will step into the vacuum and eventually endanger us and our allies, undermining peace globally. That is why the Obama years saw the invasion of Crimea, the collapse of the Middle East and the rise of ISIS, the use of chemical weapons in Syria, an increasingly belligerent Iran, and China spreading its military, political and economic influence worldwide.

The international system created after more than 60 million souls perished in World War II was shaped by the influence of our great nation. That system may have been far from perfect, but it prevented the global spread of communist dictatorship and nuclear war between East and West. We cannot solve all the world’s ills, and it is not the president’s mandate to do so, but when our influence is not felt, the influence of others is, others who wish to destabilize and ultimately undermine what we have achieved.

President Trump is not, however, interested in being an interventionist commander in chief. Nor are we interested in fighting other people’s wars for them. But, that does not automatically mean we are isolationists. We do not believe in extremes.

“America first” does not mean “America alone.”

This brings us to the question of America’s alliances and international partnerships after Jan. 20, and to the second principle upon which all our strategies are built: In order to respond to threats, we must first name them truthfully.

In Warsaw, the president not only reasserted American leadership, he also reminded the world what makes America and her allies special. We believe that the values of our founding are not based on some cold utilitarian calculation, or on a subjective interpretation of “right and wrong.” America’s values are based on objective truth — the truth we have inherited as part of our membership in Western civilization.

Before becoming the most powerful man in the world, President Trump was a highly successful businessman. As such, ideology had no place in his world. What mattered was the truth — the true state of the world — not the ideological color of any lens imposed upon it. His administration reflects this approach. We look at the world as it is, not as we would want it to be. At the same time, we will stand shoulder to shoulder with any nation, for example Poland, which shares the values that made the West great and is prepared to defend them.

We are only one-half year into Donald Trump’s presidency. In that very brief period, we have seen the nation’s economy re-energized, illegal migration plummet, the NATO alliance revitalized, and the president order new measures to secure America from terrorists.

Most striking of all is what President Trump has managed to achieve in just 25 weeks with regard to the totalitarian menace that is the Islamic State.

When the administration came into office, ISIS held territory in multiple countries in the Middle East, with fully functioning affiliates in more than a dozen countries. On the territory of the physical “caliphate,” Abu Bakr’s deadly cohorts were running actual slave markets, selling women and children into sex slavery, and had even established their own system of “caliphate taxation.” Now, with the liberation of Mosul, the death knell of the caliphate is being rung, and ISIS is on the run. All this thanks to our replacing a strategy of attrition with a strategy of annihilation.

Just as America was crucial to the defeat of the totalitarians of the Third Reich, and to the ideological defeat of the communist threat posed by the Soviet Union, we will defeat the newest totalitarian threat to the West, radical Islamic terrorism under the leadership of the current American president. This is but the beginning of translating MAGA onto the global stage.

Sebastian Gorka, Ph.D., is deputy assistant to President Trump in the White House Office of the Chief Strategist. Follow him on Twitter @SebGorka.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags America Donald Trump Donald Trump economy Hillary Clinton Hillary Clinton National security presidential election Terrorism White House

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