The mainstream news and entertainment media are once again in a frenzy trying to figure out what just happened on the world stage and how they can make the latest Trump victory look like a loss.
The president does not expect to receive accolades for his successes from those who have hated from the start. No credit given for the safe return of hostages, no singing his praises for facilitating the meet-up between North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in, no congrats for making changes in trade policy that resulted in better deals for average working folks, and on and on.
But prominent among President Trump’s many accomplishments is the re-building of the United States military and the re-shaping of our foreign policy. The president’s approach to national security issues has at times been referred to as the “Trump Doctrine.” With the recent turn of events, however, it has become enshrined.
A brief explanation of terminology. The sum and substance of an administration’s foreign policy carries the label given by analysts and experts of “presidential doctrine.”
A presidential doctrine serves an important purpose; that being, to inform the public and signal to the world the manner in which foreign affairs will be conducted in accordance with a president’s worldview. It is essentially a summarization of the distinctive approach taken by the president to the nation’s relations with other nations.
The U.S. air strike that killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani and Kataib Hezbollah leader Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes has spelled out the Trump Doctrine in a way that the president’s detractors, and thankfully America’s enemies, did not expect.
It may have come as a surprise to Bret Stephens, who wrote a biting critique of President Trump in the New York Times back in September of 2019. In his piece, he catalogued the ever increasing attacks purportedly made by Iran against the U.S. and its allies. The attacks included six on tankers, a shoot-down of a U.S. surveillance drone, the seizure of a British ship and its crew, and strikes on oil processing facilities that halted half of the Saudi’s critical oil production.
Stephens claimed in his article that the Trump administration was “bluffing” in its condemnation of Iran and characterized the administration’s position as “weakness masked in bluster.” His critique was written prior to the time Iran committed an act of war by attacking a U.S. embassy.
Two simple phrases have been used to describe President Trump’s foreign policy: “principled realism” and “America First.” The president himself has articulated these concepts in formal speeches, press conferences, verbal statements, campaign rallies, and the like. Half the country understands exactly what he is saying and enthusiastically supports him in his efforts.
The Trump Doctrine is simple and honest in its content and end goal. It embodies the notion that our country is best served by putting the interests of our own people first.
It also brings to a screeching halt a worldview that seeks multilateralism, celebrates the demise of sovereignty, and embraces the practice of appeasement.
After Iran committed an act of war by orchestrating the attack on our embassy, the targeted limited action in which the Trump administration engaged was the correct approach in dealing with the rogue state. The administration sought real deterrence yet did not seek an escalation of military conflict. It was, and remains, the only option with which we could defend ourselves while simultaneously sending the necessary message.
There is another thread that quietly winds its way through the Trump Doctrine.
The president built his field of dreams before stepping on that escalator. With fame and fortune already in hand, unlike others before him, he views his options with clearer eyes. Unclouded by concerns that produce weakness, he projects a strength that springs from a genuine love of the country.
That’s the Trump Doctrine in real time.