Two Foreign Policy Directives That Make More Sense Than Appeasing The Taliban
Yesterday, President Trump signaled further his desire for United States troops to withdraw from Afghanistan. This comes months after signing a peace deal with the Taliban.
This is foolishness of the highest order. I understand the motivation to bring our soldiers back home, but a move like this would invalidate all that our soldiers fought for since the war started. This perspective has become fashionable among isolationists on the right who like to shout “ENDLESS WARS” and pretend that intervening overseas has no impact on ourselves. It is accompanied by an apathy toward the suffering of people who do not live within our borders.
Every time the United States retreated from the world stage. it came back to bite us in the ass. WWII, 9/11, ISIS, etc. Sometimes preventative action is necessary. It will always be more effective than the fingers-in-your- ears policy of leftwing and rightwing isolationists alike. They would have us believe that intervening in foreign conflicts is a new phenomenon when the US has been doing such since its founding.
President Trump has been fairly successful with regard to foreign policy, but that was going against his more base isolationist urges. I am thankful for those policies, and still intend on voting for him in November. Though I must point out the short sightedness of these actions.The Taliban is a terrorist organization. We can’t just shake hands with them and pretend they are suddenly our friends.
I was similarly critical of Trump’s approach to North Korea. President Trump believes that everybody thinks like he does. That if he’s nice to Kim Jong-un, then Kim will be nice to him back. This is reminiscent of Obama’s disastrous approach to Iran.
Trump leaving Afghanistan would look a whole lot like Obama leaving Iraq, except there would be more predictable negative results. We left a vacuum in the early 2000s, that led to ISIS. We know the Taliban will take back everything if we leave. The right was united in being ticked off when Obama freed five Taliban prisoners for Bowe Bergdahl. We should be equally upset when there’s talk of inviting these terrorists to Camp David. It almost happened last year. On the week of the anniversary of 9/11 no less. So instead of making unwise spur-of-the-moment foreign policy decisions, why not focus on prescriptions that are simpler and can actually do some good?
First on the table should be designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. The Muslim Brotherhood is affiliated with several extremest groups worldwide and is currently designated as terrorist organization in Bahrain, Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. There was a bill sponsored by Mario Diaz-Ballart, in the House, and Ted Cruz, in the Senate, requiring John Kerry’s State Department to explain what criteria hasn’t been met by the Muslim Brotherhood for such a designation. This bill was co-sponsered by the current Secretary of State, then Representative Mike Pompeo.
In the early days of the Trump Administration, the White House was closely considering designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, along with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran. The IRGI was designated in April of last year, but there has been no movement on the Muslim Brotherhood.
There is no reason not to follow through with this while the GOP still has the executive branch as there is no guarantee Republicans will retain it in 2020. At least in the earlier batch of President Trump’s foreign policy team, you could argue that the likes of Rex Tillerson and his people were more of the old-guard mindset, friendly to legitimizing the Muslim Brotherhood. But with Mike Pompeo running the show, there’s no excuse not to follow through while Republicans still have the cards.
The same goes for making a further step on the Jerusalem front. President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and officially moved the US embassy there from Tel Aviv in May of 2018. This was a fantastic move that took guts and deserves all of the praise it’s gotten. That said, there is still one small issue that the Trump Administration could clear up rather easily.
US citizens born in Jerusalem still cannot have Israel printed on the date of birth area of their passport. This is ludicrous on its face and makes even less sense after the US’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital.
In 2002, Congress unanimously passed a law that would require passports to print Israel, with Jerusalem listed, at the request of a citizen or legal guardian. The bill was signed, but this part was rejected by then President George W. Bush, who added a signing statement, arguing that Congress didn’t have the power to interfere with the president’s authority to recognize foreign states under Article II.
Several years later, the Zivotofsky family (who had a child shortly after the bill was signed into law) sued the Obama State Department for the ability to have Israel be printed on their son’s passport due to the 2002 bill. Ultimately, it was struck down by Anthony Kennedy and the leftwing justices, who argued that the president has the sole authority to recognize foreign sovereignty.
Senator Tom Cotton spoke about this case following this decision in 2015, and how he believed it was wrongly decided. Senator Cotton is largely regarded as one of the most pro-Israel senators, along with Ted Cruz. Both Senator Cotton and Senator Cruz recently urged the Trump Administration to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the the Golan Heights. It did so in March of 2019.
The Zivotofsky case could conceivably be revisited now that the court’s composition has changed, but there isn’t much of a reason to go through such an ordeal when President Trump could go through the motions himself.