“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction”
Ronald Reagan, 1911 – 2004
I am now cautiously optimistic about President-elect Donald Trump. He was not my first choice among the Republican Primary candidates nor did I even vote for him on November 8th. However he is a change agent and our country badly needs change. A big problem is that he praises Russian President Vladimir Putin and says that NATO is “obsolete.” I have learned not to take Mr. Trump literally but, nevertheless, I am still concerned. I have long been a fan of the Russian native and former world chess champion, Garry Kasparov, who is now the Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation in New York. He is the author recently of “Winter is Coming: why Vladimir Putin and the enemies of the free world must be stopped.”
Here is an outline of Mr. Kasparov’s recommendations for confronting Mr. Putin:
Isolate dictatorships that exploit engagement to support oppression of their own people.
Keep human rights and the value of human life as the backbone of foreign policy.
Defend Ukraine as if it shares a border with every free nation in the world. It is easier to take a stand now over Ukraine than to let it go and then have to worry constantly about our commitment to the Baltics and Poland who are NATO members.
Europe gets a third of its energy from Russia but Europe buys 80% of Russia’s energy exports. This provides the NATO Allies with great leverage especially considering the export potential for U.S. oil and gas.
Maintaining a robust American security umbrella is much safer than encouraging military proliferation by shrinking that umbrella.
Appeasement reflects the overall climate not just the personal weakness of specific leaders.
Conclusion. Russian aggression under Vladimir Putin is now the biggest threat to world peace. It is critical for incoming President Trump to act firmly with Mr. Putin.
The lead story in yesterday’s New York Times, “Experts Explain How Global Powers Can Smash ISIS,” starts out “Much of the world agrees that the Islamic State needs to be crushed. But how can that be accomplished?” Here is the strategy espoused in the NYT article and also by Garry Kasparov, writing in the Wall Street Journal:
Assad must go. “For the U.S. and the West to ally with Iran, Russia and the Assad regime in Syria would be morally repugnant, strategically disastrous and entirely unnecessary.”
The importance of the Sunnis. “To beat ISIS you need the enlistment of the Sunnis and this won’t happen as long as Assad remains in power.” Removing Assad “would immediately have the support of Turkey and Saudi Arabia.” “The 2007 U.S. military surge in Iraq was so successful because it included the protection and recruitment of Sunni tribes to fight Sunni extremists.” “The hasty exit from Iraq left the Sunnis at the mercy of a hostile Shiite government.”
Troops on the ground. “Anything less than a major U.S. and NATO-led ground offensive against ISIS will be a guarantee of continued failure and more terror attacks in the West.”
Long term governance. “For the long term, eradicating the Islamic State and other violent Jihadi groups will require drastic reforms in the nature of Middle East governments. ISIS thrives on their failures.”
After the Paris attacks, the West now realizes that ISIS represents a huge threat to world peace and stability. Hopefully the U.S. is also beginning to realize that only it can provide the leadership to organize an effective response.
I will soon return to talking about the fiscal and economic issues which I usually dwell on. Every once in a while another major issue intervenes and takes precedence.