Washington Times on March 28, 2018 published a commentary by Lt. Colonel L. Scott Lingamfelter on the necessary shift in United States foreign policy. Excerpts below:

Mr. Trump [early on] understood the importance of Saudi Arabia in not only reshaping the Middle East but in dealing with the emerging threat Iran poses to regional and world peace. Indeed, Mr. Trump is a practitioner of realpolitik. In that regard, his selection of former Ambassador John Bolton, who adheres to that philosophy,…represents a profound fulcrum shift in the crafting and orchestration of Mr. Trump’s foreign policy agenda.

Mr. Bolton’s arrival could not be timelier. Here some context would be illustrative. Consider the diametrically opposed foreign policy views of Mr. Trump and his predecessor, Barrack Obama. President Obama drew “redlines” in Syria as a warning to Damascus to refrain from chemical warfare, a threat he failed to keep. Mr. Trump attacked the Syrian regime with 60 cruise missiles for using those chemical weapons, even while having dessert with the president of China.

Mr. Obama was caught off-guard by the rise of ISIS. Mr. Trump destroyed them mercilessly. Mr. Obama placed U.S. and world security at risk by agreeing to a horribly constructed Iranian nuclear deal. Mr. Trump is poised to abrogate it. Mr. Obama continued the legacy of effete diplomatic efforts to contain North Korea’s nuclear and missile ambitions. Mr. Trump is moving to end it. Mr. Trump’s practical view of the world stands in stark contrast to the disoriented approach by Mr. Obama.

Indeed, the distinction between these men is further apparent in the difference between the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy (NSS) Document, the road map for achieving…vital national interests,…Under Mr. Obama, the NSS read like a community organizer’s handbook. His NSS was filled with lofty nostrums about leadership, keeping “pressure” on the war on terror (as opposed to destroying it), and of course, climate change.

…Mr. Trump has taken a decidedly realpolitik view more appropriate for the challenges before us. His strategy is based on four pillars: (1) Protect the homeland, the American people, and the American way of life, (2) Promote American prosperity, (3) Preserve peace through strength, and (4) Advance American influence.

Mr. Bolton’s clear-eyed view of the world will be additive to the president’s instincts to see things as they are, not as he would wish them to be, which is why Mr. Trump has tapped him for the job. The former U.N. ambassador knows firsthand the nature of today’s international actors — some who are quite malevolent — in the multi-polar world we live in.

Mr. Bolton will be a wise and patient counselor in helping the president realize the foreign policy objectives that are clearly articulated in his NSS.

Indeed, Mr. Bolton’s arrival is a fulcrum shift…And there is much to do. The war on terror, the nuclear threat from both North Korea and Iran, the revolution in Syria and the military ambitions of China all pose profound challenges to the vital interests of the United States. None may be more exigent than a resurgent Russia in the hands of Vladimir Putin.

Here the weight of Mr. Bolton’s expertise is precisely what is needed to help the president navigate very turbulent waters.

Comment: Lt. Colonel Lingamfelter in the article above well describes the importance of a realist view in foreign policy.

Russia in the heartland of Eurasia and China as well as Iran/Persia are the present challengers to the United States and the rest of the West.

Russia under Putin has a strong military and the Russian president has shown willingness to use that force against neighbour Ukraine.

The goal of China is to surpass the United States as world leading power and with that the risk of military aggression in the South China Sea and in the rest of the Pacific. Both China and Russia have a tradition of centralized political authority based on what Karl Wittfogel (1896 – 1988) in his important book “Oriental Despotism” described as “hydraulic bureaucratic despotism” based on irrigation in agriculture. This tradition of despotism was brought to Russia by the Tartars in the Middle Ages and continued in Czarist Russia and now under Putin’s rule.

Iran (Persia) is a classical challenger to the West. Much of the present chaos in the Middle East is a result of Iranian intervention. Like in other cultures in the area Iran accepts and even values conflict, conspiracy and war. Muslim rulers have for a long time and are still relying on psychological warfare, espionage and subversion in the search to weaken the influence of Western civilization. Iran is supporting terrorist organizations in Lebanon and Gaza and is a constant threat to mainly Israel but also the rest of the West.

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