We opted to avoid triumphalism and in fact called upon some Soviet satellites to remain in the Moscow orbit (remember the “chicken Kiev” speech urging Ukraine not to declare independence?).
You may recall that President Bush the 41st refrained from declaring victory, and that subsequently President Clinton announced that, henceforth, “war” would be waged with economic weapons, not military ones. That produced 8 years of declining military budgets, and failed efforts at détente with Iran and Russia.
In other words, the United States, despite becoming the world’s lone superpower, deliberately weakened its military strength, and attempted to negotiate friendly relations with its former archenemy and the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism.
Obama later did all these things again and called them “new.”
I think it’s fair to say that the global templates were inevitably going to shift after the fall of the Soviet Empire, but the United States’ decision to withdraw from crucial areas of the world was probably surprising to most people. To be sure, it’s the way we are.
Americans may be the only people in the world who believe that peace is normal, while war’s an aberration, and just as after the first two world wars of the 20th century, our presidents—Bush first and then Clinton—underwrote The Great Retreat. I seem to remember Bill Clinton bemoaning his bad luck—nothing big happened on his international watch, so he couldn’t show his geopolitical smarts.
Actually, Clinton was very lucky; he had the chance to reshape the whole world by advancing the cause of democratic revolution. But he wasn’t interested in that, nor in going after Al Qaeda, even though our Justice Department had indicted bin Laden et. al., and Al Qaeda had launched its first attack on the World Trade Center. I did a little book about it all.
Whereupon we elected George W. Bush, who ran a campaign bereft of any interesting ideas about foreign policy or national security. His foreign policy would likely have been basically a continuation of Clinton’s, had it not been for the 9/11 attacks. Which is in keeping with the pattern of our geopolitical action for at least a full century: our enemies get us involved.
So it was with Bush, who seemed to understand we had to wage a war against the Terror Masters, but then failed to take action against the Iranian regime that gave more support to the terrorists than any other regime on earth.
Then came Obama, who was and is convinced that the United States was the cause of most of the world’s problems, and set about to reverse our alliance structure by ruining relations with numerous allies and seeking rapprochement with several of our worst enemies.
Superficially, Obama’s strategy looks like a replay of the Clinton version, but in truth it has been very different. Most pundits have still not grasped the gravity of this transformation. They still do not see that Obama has forged a strategic alliance with Iran, arguably our worst enemy, and as a result of the Iran alliance, we find ourselves in cahoots with the Russians.
Anyone looking honestly at the world today must conclude that Obama wants Iran to win. He supports their policies in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. He arms them. His special forces fight alongside them, a true horror. Not so long ago, Iran was on the verge of losing Syria; the mullahs were saved by a combination of Russian and American military power. Today, nobody expects the Iranians to be driven out of Syria and/or Iraq, but they have lost thousands of fighters and invested billions of dollars (of our money, lest we forget).
Enter Trump. What does he want? I think the best way to answer this question is to look at the people he has chosen to deal with our national security. Generals Flynn, Mattis and Kelly, and Representative Pompeo, are all hawks on Iran. All have been outspokenly critical of the Iran Deal, and all have said they would like the United States to be tougher on the battlefield. I believe all would favor efforts to support regime change in Tehran. I don’t think Trump would have appointed such men if he didn’t agree with them. So I think we will see open criticism of the Islamic Republic from our top policy makers, and very likely from the new president as well.
If that happens, America can resume its rightful role as the world’s premier revolutionary nation. The radical Muslims have had lots of opportunities during the last eight years, and they have botched almost all of them. An amazing chunk of Islamic countries now openly yearn for America’s assistance and friendship. You don’t hear all that malarkey about how the “Arab street” hates America very much nowadays, do you?
I think Donald Trump may be a lucky man. He comes to office as our worst enemies face daunting internal and foreign crises, and he comes with exactly the words our allies and would-be allies most want to hear from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. They too want America to be great again.
Life is full of surprises. It's our revolution the world yearns for. Maybe we'll do it.
This article was published on Forbes.com