(AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE) -- The Trump administration’s national security strategy was supposed to refocus the U.S. military’s efforts on great power threats from China and Russia. However, like the prior Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia,” the Trump policy has been shipwrecked on the ever-demanding shoals of the Middle East.
For example, sources at the Pentagon admit that despite Trump’s national strategy and his pledge to terminate “endless wars” in the greater Middle East, General Mike Milley, his new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is emphasizing Iran and Syria. Furthermore, instead of drawing down American forces in the region, the administration has sent 14,000 more troops to the Persian Gulf since May, including more than 3,000 to Saudi Arabia. In addition, President Trump has twice ordered American forces to be withdrawn from Syria, only for that order to be first ignored by the military and then largely offset by the hasty infusion of heavier forces to “guard” Syrian oil. Such backsliding in the Middle East is due to the administration’s hazy strategic focus.
The emphasis of Trump’s national security strategy on the great powers is commendable. However, that priority has not been implemented on the ground. With a $23 trillion national debt, the United States can no longer afford to police the globe. It must choose to let regional allies take up the slack in certain areas. Trump’s lack of experience in foreign policy, and the fact that our national security bureaucracies are still mired in Cold War thinking 30 years after the Berlin Wall fell, have led to muddled implementation of the strategy.
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