Judd Gregg: Peace in our term

Judd Gregg: Peace in our term
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It is difficult to believe that this administration could do worse than it has already done in foreign policy, as it heads into its final year. But it seems intent on doing just that.

Consider the record. It is abysmal.

First there is the focus — or the lack of it. This White House has not concentrated on keeping the United States as the primary force in the world for protecting and promoting the hard-won victories of the last century. 

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Two world wars and a massive confrontation with communism during the twentieth century produced a clear winner. That winner was the U.S. itself and, more broadly, the American ideal of democratic rule and market economics.

These core principles do not seem to have been absorbed by the people who populate the Obama administration. Rather their worldview — to the extent that it can be defined at all —  seems to display a deep ignorance of the renewed threats to these principles. 

Russia has been allowed to willfully challenge and undermine the freedom of the Eastern European nations. Georgia, Ukraine, Moldavia and the rest of eastern Europe now looks at the Bear farther east that enslaved them for half a century and sees little or no counter-force from the West to give them solace.   

A great deal of American blood and treasure was expended in the twentieth century to bring freedom, democracy and market economics to this region. It is beyond comprehension that this administration has frittered this sacrifice away, preferring to avert its eyes from renewed Russian aggression. 

We have not yet seen the full cost of this malfeasance but it will come. It will not just be unpleasant; it will be dangerous. 

China is building a military capability that will easily rival ours — and do so soon. It is defining its sphere of influence in a manner that clearly is meant to send the message that they are serious.

This is occurring at a time when we still hold most of the cards in this relationship. Without American markets, there is no way that the Chinese government can generate the economic growth and job creation it needs to maintain its massive population. The vibrancy of the Chinese economy is its leaders’ key to political stability and they know it. 

We have the opportunity to develop a clear partnership with China on strategic issues using our leverage to drive the process. But it takes clarity of purpose and engagement to do so. Neither exists in the muddled thought processes of this administration. 

As a consequence, China policy stumbles towards unnecessary confrontation rather then towards solidifying a partnership that would benefit both of us.

Canada, our closest friend and economic partner, is treated with open disdain. The Keystone XL pipeline is gratuitously rejected. Irrational environmental extremism becomes the animating purpose.  

This is a distraction from the vastly more important process of joining Canada in the fight to intercept international terrorists trying to transit into the United States to do us harm.  

The idea that by killing the Keystone pipeline there will be less use of carbon-based energy is so absurd it sets a new standard of inanity. The oil will be produced and it will be used. But we have insulted a critical ally, whom we need, for the sake of a cheap headline. 

Then there is the Middle East. There, it is hard to know where to start in pointing out the absolute disasters that bear this administration’s stamp.

Obviously, there are no simple pathways forward in the region. But some things are clear. We have friends there. We have enemies there. We also have strategic necessities.   

Fundamentalist, radical Islam is our enemy. The primary purpose of those who ascribe to that ideology, whether they are nations or asymmetrical terrorist groups, is to do harm to us and our friends, both Israeli and Arab.

The abandonment of Iraq, after such an arduous American effort there, will go down as a decision that dramatically worsened the region’s stability.    

Allowing ISIS to arise and to set up a working political state has made it a beacon to all the fanatical forces across the region and  beyond.  

This administration has missed the point of the threat of ISIS. Its existence as a functioning state is the threat.  

Most disastrous and dangerous is the nuclear agreement with Iran. Not since Neville Chamberlain went to Munich has an agreement by democracies with an aggressive dictatorship — in this case a theocracy — been entered into that will so obviously lead to the empowering of that autocracy and its military expansion. 

This agreement guarantees that the religious fanatics who control Iran will get a nuclear weapon. They will use this military capability once they acquire it. This administration will leave office with “peace in their term.” Its legacy will be the potential for violence that will rival the atrocities of Nazi Germany.

This is not a world that countenances naivety in foreign policy. This administration has set us on a dangerous course across the globe in its failure to face up to reality.  

The next president will have an incredibly challenging course to follow in order to get us back to policies that make this world safer for democracy generally and for the United States specifically.

Judd Gregg (R) is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations subcommittee.