Election 2016 Round Table Discussion: Foreign policy has steadily and dangerously regressed and eroded under the leadership of both President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. What has to occur concerning foreign policy to turn the tide in understanding the issues that America faces, whether in a Trump or Clinton administration?

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-If elected, Clinton will probably maintain the policies begun during the Obama administration and give us more of the same unsteady world leadership. She may surprise the world by veering off course from her script while Secretary of State, but the safe bet is she will not change dramatically from her leadership style on display since she was FLOTUS.

Trump appears ready to barge his way onto the world stage and attempt to bully every world leader he meets into either submission or tacit compliance with his demands. The biggest danger of that strategy is the potential to engage in a war of words and have it escalate into an armed conflict. And with Trump as Commander in Chief, he will attack aggressively and with massive force, if only to make his point that he wants to be top dog.

What needs to happen concerning foreign policy is a middle ground. America must announce to the world that it will no longer play the role of policeman to the world. We should begin a slow, gradual withdrawal of troops from our dozens of international bases, while at the same time filling that void with promises of maintaining or increasing economic opportunities, communication, and peaceful dealings with the countries from which we are departing.

Concerning the international conflicts we’re involved in such as Syria, Iraq, and combatting ISIS, we should honor whatever commitments we’ve made. From now on, we should give hard departure dates to the warring parties and cease all military commitments to any country that is not being directly attacked by a country with whom we are engaged in a declared war. Wars should only be declared by Congress, not de facto wars facilitated by open-ended “Authorization to Use Force” resolutions.  This may lead to other powers stepping in to fill those voids, but the U.S. is bankrupt and risks imploding if we get to the point where the world stops accepting our credit card and funny money. If the U.S. decides to mind its own business, other countries may follow suit. The actual, local warring parties (regional tribes in the case of Iraq) may sue for peace once their military funding dries up and they run out of bullets and weapons.

Going forward, we should offer military assistance only to those countries who are willing to pay enough for us to make a profit. Any personnel sent should be volunteers who go at their own personal risk and are free to negotiate salary and benefits as they see fit. We must maintain a defensive force second to none so we can deter any aggression against our shores, but our focus should be ninety-five percent on promoting peace, freedom, and economic opportunity for the entire world.

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-The United States has got to stop trying to be all things to all people. We can’t be the enforcer in the Middle East, while also being the breadbasket and the open wallet.  We can’t continue to do Europe’s job of protecting its own territory at the cost of billions of American dollars.  Since the end of World War II, the U.S. has footed the bill and staked the lives to protect our European allies from first a Soviet and now a Russian threat.  What have we gotten in return?

In Asia, we pussyfoot around with the Chinese while playing hardball with North Korea.  That’s like ignoring the ax-wielding maniac while drawing a gun on a babbling toddler.  North Korea can attempt to launch all the missiles it likes. In the end, it’s half-starved populace and moldering military is incapable of mounting much in the way of an assault on anyone.  The Chinese, on the other hand, have tremendous technological and industrial might, and their military is fast rising to match that strength.  If we go to sleep at the switch, someday soon we’ll find ourselves having to get Chinese permission to cross the South China Sea.

I’m not suggesting we completely withdraw our support for our allies or go to war in Asia, but we have got to restore American credibility in the world. If we draw a line in the sand, there needs to be an iron fist on the other side of it. If we see a country as an imminent threat, action should be taken. But if borders are peaceful and communication is flowing, there’s no need for military posturing.  The economic and societal benefits of reestablishing America’s reputation worldwide will be, to borrow from The Donald, huge.

 

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-In order for foreign policy to reflect the issues that America faces, whether in a Trump or Clinton administration, the real issues confronting America must be brought to bear.  They include a true and clear understanding of foreign policy issues and just who is allied with America, who is not, and exactly what can be done to bring about a direct focus to stable policy creation.

Foreign policy must address the issues facing America in the world today and they include strengthening the country through peace, lessening conflicts throughout the world and mutually understanding the varying differences and disputes with other countries.  Formulating and negotiating for agreed upon alliances and policies that benefit America and her allies is a plan of action that will ease tensions as well as give standing to America’s allies. Capitulation to and acceptance of terrorist regime dogma and coercion and persuasion by terrorists is a dangerous and destructive political stance to allow in any foreign policy strategy.

Our allies must come to a consensus concerning their own vulnerabilities in relationship to radical Islam and the movements that have spread within their own established political systems, governments and way of life. Judicious recommitment by America to its allies is a vital part of a healing process from the detrimental effects of the Obama years, and our closest allies must be returned to the fold in order to achieve the goals of a America First structure, though Donald Trump has seriously reiterated that our allies must reciprocate and return what American has so charitably given in the past to seal and reconfirm those relationships.  Trump will negotiate with NATO countries and will motivate the organization to share in the costs and become less accustomed to relying on America. That begins with joint efforts, rather than the United States footing the bill for every engagement and international incident that occurs across the world.

Donald Trump has put forth in his foreign policy plan a number of steps to rebuild foreign policy through renegotiation of foreign trade deals, with no apology tours attached, as well as new budget proposals that would eliminate the sequester on defense spending that would include increasing military spending as well as troop levels, ships, aircraft, armaments and the United States missile defense systems along with the enhancement and improvement of intelligence and cyber capabilities.

These proposals are aimed at preparing America for the present and future threats that it faces. As Trump stated in a speech to the Union League of Philadelphia, “History shows that when America is not prepared is when the danger is greatest. We want to deter, avoid and prevent conflict through our unquestioned military dominance,” and he further vowed to offset any increased defense spending through “seeking payments from countries where America has military bases (Germany, Japan and Saudi Arabia). Other offsets would come through common sense reforms to eliminate government waste and budget gimmicks.”

Other steps in foreign policy proposals include ending nation-building, regime changes, defeating radical Islamic ideology, establishing a commission on radical Islam, suspending (temporarily) immigration from the volatile regions of the world, as well as securing the American people from the dangers of unchecked refugee resettlement. In addition, the establishment of safe zones for refugee resettlement has also been suggested as a means of protecting Middle Eastern citizens from their own terrorists as well as the citizens of America from possible terrorist intrusion.

Further Middle Eastern foreign policy proposals include: working with allies in the region to fight ISIS, pursuing joint  military operations to destroy ISIS, gaining international cooperation to limit ISIS, increase intelligence sharing and cyberwarfare to incapacitate online propaganda and terrorist recruitment.

There has to be firm intention to make America safe again and with constructive foreign policy principles in place and the right negotiators at the table whether in the Middle East, China, Mexico, or other countries, it will be made clear that America reserves the right to formulate a foreign policy that benefits America and sends a clear message to anyone opposing new and fresh deals that they better coalesce around the policies or be left more vulnerable to the world at large.

The national interest of America must always be placed first as well as the stabilization of regions outside of America. Tensions throughout the world must be put into balance and eased. Only then can real foreign policies take hold and become effective.

 

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