If we go to war with Iran, blame President Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter may be the one to blame if President Trump goes to war with Iran, thanks to his handed-down Carter Doctrine

The 94-year old ex-president is recovering from a turkey shoot hip injury, but while he was in the White House refusing to pardon Thanksgiving turkeys, he changed the course of America’s Iran policy.

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Carter asserted that any nation trying to control the Persian Gulf or restrict the free-flow of oil through the Straits of Hormuz was acting against America’s “vital interests.” Carter articulated this message near the end of his presidency and at a time when revolutionary Iran held the United States hostage and the Soviets militarily occupied Afghanistan.

The message to Iran and the USSR was clear: Make a move on the neighborhood, mess with shipping, slow the flow of oil and risk going to war with the United States. READ MORE

President Donald Trump, global peacemaker. Really.

War is the ultimate test for nations and their leaders. History is full of great leaders who fought and won military victories, from Revolutionary War hero George Washington to Abraham Lincoln’s civil war and World War II’s FDR.

Victory is the key to greatness.

President Trump is different. If George W. Bush went into his successful 2004 re-election campaign embracing his role as a “war president,” Trump may angle to win a 2020 re-election as the nation’s “peace president.” Remarkably, if things go well, he could be Donald Trump, peacemaker.

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Disquieting as it may be for those who see him as morally bankrupt, as well as a threat to democratic norms and human decency, there has to be a reckoning that he just might actually succeed in pursuing peace on multiple fronts. Trump’s campaign promises, unorthodox methods and his limitless ego are leading him to seek an end to American military engagements and — with a couple of notable exceptions — even lower the temperature elsewhere. READ MORE

Our troops are dying for a lost cause. We’ve got to get out of Afghanistan.

Twenty-seven years ago, I was in Afghanistan to watch the Russians cut and run from a military quagmire and failed occupation that helped bring down the Soviet Union. In 2018, America is ready to walk away from a similarly failed military adventure. As Lt. Col. John W. Nicholson Jr., the exiting American and NATO forces’ commander in Afghanistan put it: “It is time for this war in Afghanistan to end.”
 

He’s right.

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Our longest war drags on, and President Trump’s instincts and inclinations tell him to learn from the Soviet Union’s mistake a generation earlier: Get out of Afghanistan. ASAP. With Chief of Staff John Kelly’s policy role diminished and a refreshed national security team, the White House has quieted support for a continued large U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.  READ MORE

2018 could lock-in Trump privilege, power in foreign policy

The last line of defense in checking President Donald Trump’s foreign-policy power is the old guard of the Republican Party, and those watchmen are about to go quietly into the night.

A 2018 Republican sweep would cripple two key Senate committees, moving them from painfully ineffective to plainly inconsequential. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee are supposed to oversee the foreign-policy and the national-security apparatus. Trump has brought them to heel.

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He has belittled the outspoken Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who became a lame duck by giving up a 2018 reelection bid (Disclosure: Corker held my presidential appointment from Senate confirmation in 2016). Sitting out alongside him is another committee member, Trump-critic Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, leaving a handful of cowed Republicans and the minority Democrats to try to counter Trump policy tweets and fight for a systematically well-formulated foreign agenda.  READ MORE

Nuke deals are for suckers

Nuke deals are all the rage these days. The United Nations sees nuclear accords as a path to world peace. President Barack Obama worked toward a “global zero” nuclear-free future.

President Trump, on the other hand, is highly skeptical of deals with Iran and North Korea because he understands what Tehran and Pyongyang leaders already know: Nuclear disarmament deals are for suckers.

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Countries generally balk at giving up their hard-won and expensive nuclear capabilities because nuclear weapons are a time-tested and reliable deterrent. Giving up these weapons requires faith that any agreement inked is rock solid and that the countries agreeing to unilateral nuclear disarmament are assured they will not wind up like Ukraine or Libya – invaded or overthrown.

Trump does not inspire this faith. Neither does he have faith that the other side will do as it’s told. READ MORE