Some American Presidents have shown that they are big talkers, but not big doers. President Trump has shown until now that he is both a big talker but and a big doer. And, in case you have any doubt where he stands on an issue, just look at his twitter feed. Will he allow Iran to continue to test his patience and bully Iran’s neighbors in the Persian Gulf? Odds are that he will threaten, threaten a little more, and then really threaten the Iranian regime that he means business. But it seems that he will continue to put the economic pressure on for a while before he makes a decision to engage with the military. But is he willing to use the military if necessary? We should hope so. Isolationism sounds more reasonable than it has proven to be in the past.
Isolationism and Drawn-Out Conflicts
The two most dangerous pitfalls that a foreign policy of the United States should avoid are isolationist tendencies and military involvement in long,drawn out conflicts. Both are extremely dangerous for opposite reasons. But they lead to similar results. The key to an effective future foreign policy should be based on the United States sticking it’s nose into conflicts across the Atlantic and Pacific. One of the most important lessons of World War II is that we can not afford to ignore massive changes that go on in Europe or Asia. The Atlantic and the Pacific are indeed huge. But they do not protect us hermetically from threats from Asian or European based dictators with imperialistic dreams. Had we not joined the fight with Churchill and Stalin, German U-boats would have certainly threatened cities in the United States. This is not mere speculation. It actually was in the process of happening when we engaged the German machine guns on Normandy. Yes, Germany had no realistic chance at conquering America. But it did have the ability to bomb Washington, New York, and Florida and wreak havoc to warehouses near the shores. Tens of thousands of lives in mainland America were at stake.
Today, we live in an era of ballistic missiles, and some intercontinental ballistic missiles. Iran does not pose an existential threat to the United States nor to Europe. But, they most certainly do pose a threat. They need to be deterred, or else we will have another rude awakening like 9/11. If economic pressure does not do the job, then a forceful, surgical or non-surgical military strike will be needed. But, President Trump should avoid any form of an occupation force in Iran. That is not necessary like it was in Germany after World War II. Boots on the ground may be necessary, but only for a short amount of time – days or weeks – to clean out a threat. But American lives do not need to be risked for an extended period to contain the threats from a rogue regime like Iran.