By Walid Phares and J.D. Gordon
Donald Trump has earned far more votes than anyone this presidential cycle. That’s because he’s made it abundantly clear that he will put America first. Finally, someone brave enough to do what most Americans view as common sense, but terrifies the establishment.
No more Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton-John Kerry world tours of apologies. No more losing on trade. No more humiliating disasters like in Benghazi.
He’s often said that we’re $19 trillion in debt and ought to focus on rebuilding our own country. As one of the world’s most successful businessmen, he knows every dollar must count.
And Washington has been wasting it.
Under the leadership of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, America spent trillions on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even more tragically, we’ve seen over 6,800 of our military men and women killed in those conflicts which weren’t even strategic victories by the U.S. or our allies.
Are those places much better off today? Are we any safer? Nope, not so much.
Iraq is a disaster. Through brute force of fanatical terrorists who filled the power vacuum when our troops left, it’s been essentially divided into three mini-states: a weak central government led by Iranian-backed Shia militias in the center and south; the self-proclaimed Islamic State, a Sunni terror network in the west and north; and an expanded Kurdish enclave in the northeast. Yazidis and Christians have faced genocide in their ancestral homelands.
Afghanistan would be toppled once again by the Taliban, or a rival jihadist movement like the rising Islamic State, if and when U.S. troops pull out fully as Obama envisions. An Iraq redux.
Fortunately, the Trump vision for the Middle East is far different. And it’s a win/win for America and our allies.
Gone would be the fools’ errands of nation building and picking sides back and forth in ancient ethnic, sectarian battles. Let’s recall that roughly 99 percent of American deaths in Iraq were during the re-construction phase after Saddam was toppled, targeted by both Sunni and Shia jihadists. And the country quickly fell apart once we left.
Instead, the focus will be restoring Middle Eastern stability and prosperity based on three main pillars: (1) Destroying ISIS; (2) Stopping Iran from going nuclear; and (3) re-building alliances.
When Mr. Trump says he’ll “knock the hell out of ISIS,” he means it. A tough military response, in close cooperation with our Arab and European allies is long overdue. That doesn’t mean “carpet bombing” like some other presidential candidates have called for, since it would indiscriminately kill civilians and just create more terrorists. And it certainly doesn’t mean underestimating jihadist networks as “junior varsity” like Obama has done. And more importantly, beyond ISIS, we’ve got to tear up the roots of the ideology of Islamism, both Khomeinist and Salafi, that’s creating jihadist networks in the first place. Defeating political correctness globally and working on the right problem are the first steps.
Mr. Trump has also stated that the Iran nuclear deal was the worst in history. That’s because he knows that it just buys Iran time to get the bomb, and meanwhile gives them $150 billion to keep exporting terrorism and purchasing even more devastating weapons. Any deal that allows regimes to enrich uranium means they’ll have the ability to go nuclear. It’s time to re-negotiate that deal, and work with our allies to pressure Iran both military, diplomatically and economically. All options must be on the table. As President Reagan once said, “when they feel the heat, they will see the light.” So true. And when he took office, Iran’s regime released 52 American hostages held for 444 days during the Carter years. We need to be respected like that again.
On working with allies, Mr. Trump understands from the corporate world that you must have reliable business partners. While he knows America is paying too much and will get better deals, he also recognizes that our allies have been thrown under the bus by Obama, Clinton and Kerry. Their terrible decisions throughout the Arab Spring led to hardline Islamists taking over several former allied countries, rise of jihadist terror networks, failed states and outright civil wars in Syria, Libya and Yemen. He’ll support moderate Arab allies like in Egypt, Jordan and Bahrain… those who have been pushing the hardest against the forces of radical Islam. And restore better relations with Israel, which have hit rock bottom under Obama.
Bottom line, he’ll overhaul Washington’s policies in the Middle East. Common sense solutions are long overdue.
Dr. Walid Phares is a Middle East and terrorism expert who has written 14 books on the subject. He serves as a Foreign Policy Adviser to Presidential candidate Donald Trump. He was the National Security Adviser to Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
J.D. Gordon is a retired Navy Commander and former Pentagon spokesman who served from 2005-2009. He has served as a Senior Fellow to several think tanks, and a Foreign Policy Adviser to Presidential Candidates Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee and Herman Cain.