By Erick Erickson
I was an adult when George W. Bush uttered the phrase “axis of evil” and I remember the press reaction. And I suspect that Donald Trump, like those two, will be vindicated against his critics for his tough stance at the United Nations.
What a politician says and what he really does or does not do are different things. But what President Trump said yesterday at the United Nations really restores a realistic approach to American foreign policy and a key, core sentiment that Ronald Reagan understood and the left decried: better our a**hole than their a**hole.
The fact is we cannot convert every country to our form of constitutional republic. And the fact is that there are always going to be third world hell holes from which terrorists might stage attacks or do bad things. It is far better for us to admit this and make sure those third world hell holes are controlled by allies who will help us destroy our enemies than by our enemies allies who will wage war against us.
The President’s bluntness may be off putting to some on this, but it was really telling yesterday when former Obama staffers were unable to reconcile how the President could say he will not impose our way of life on another country while also saying he would take action against Venezuela.
In the real world, the Venezuelan regime is destabilizing an entire region, sparking a humanitarian crisis, and ceding ground to nefarious groups including drug lords and terrorists. If the Venezuelan President could run his country without it collapsing into anarchy that will be taken advantage of by interests opposed to ours, President Trump would leave him alone. But because the Venezuelan President cannot do that, our President will act to keep us safe and his team is smart enough to know that acting today will prevent disaster tomorrow.
The same holds true with North Korea where this President is having to clean up the idealized vomit fest of three prior administrations and their “diplomatic” efforts that did nothing except buy North Korea time to make a nuke while learning the fine art of shake down saber rattling.
Whether this President lives up to his vision is another matter and will largely be for history to judge. But his stated foreign policy is mature, stable, and needed. It is grounded in historic American leadership around the world, not isolationism, and not multinational interventionism.
President Trump’s immediate predecessor took the world stage and often made it seem he though no nation was better or worse, but all were equal. Every nation said the same thing about how great their nation was and their nation was the best. We did it too as team sport, in Obama’s mind, but his policies were premised on us not being the best nation.
Yesterday at the United Nations, President Trump all but declared the United States actually really is the best damn nation that ever was, but is humble enough not to try to force everyone to our level.
I’ll take it!