Our muddled foreign policy gives comfort to our enemies

Our muddled foreign policy gives comfort to our enemies

Max L. Kleinman

Max Kleinman of Fairfield is the CEO emeritus of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest and president of the Fifth Commandment Foundation.

Of the more than a dozen people who held the U. S. presidency since Israel was founded, I believe the only two who have a visceral affinity for the Jewish state are Bill Clinton and Joe Biden.

The latter demonstrated this in the weeks following the October 7 massacre, when he supported Israel with words, weapons, and his physical presence. He vociferously defended Israel’s war goals: to eliminate Hamas as a military threat and from governing Gaza and to release all the hostages.

In the ensuing weeks, because of the civilian casualties from Israel’s invasion reported by the Hamas-controlled Heath Ministry, which does not differentiate between military and civilian casualties and without a doubt exaggerates, the U.S. State Department took a more “nuanced” approach. It lectured the Israelis on limiting civilian casualties by using more precise munitions and beseeched them to speed up its operations. John Spencer at West Point’s Modern War Institute commended the Israelis for the unprecedented precautions it took to limit civilian casualties as it faced an enemy hiding behind civilians in hospitals, schools, and mosques, which sheltered in 350 miles of tunnels largely funded by international humanitarian relief.

With the left wing of the Democratic party calling for a ceasefire to Israel’s detriment and Arab-American voters in play in Michigan, the latest State Department salvo is pressuring Israel to accept a Palestinian state under a “reformed” Palestinian Authority, which would govern Gaza. Most Israelis don’t support a Palestinian state in the aftermath of October 7. Neither do the majority of Palestinians — they want Palestine to be “from the river to the sea.”

But the Palestinians have their own state. It’s called Gaza. Nine thousand Israelis were expelled in 2005 to make Gaza Judenrein under the control of the Palestinian Authority. The PA lost an election to Hamas, who violently expelled them the following year. And now we have this disastrous state on Israel’s doorstep, controlled by murderous terrorists who use their people as cover and cannon fodder.

Do we want a repetition of this debacle within miles of Ben Gurion airport?

Meanwhile, our policy of appeasing Iran has only emboldened its proxies to brazenly attack our troops and paralyze shipping through the Straits of Hormuz, strangling trade. The Houthis who have terrorized Yemen were taken off the terrorist list to appease Iran. Recently they were restored to the list but below the highest category. Meanwhile we have not responded forcefully enough to deter Iran’s proxies and have not hit the puppeteer where it hurts by targeting Iranian assets. Iran will fight to the last of its Arab proxies without feeling any pain. Those people are expendable in Iranian eyes.

Our foreign policy is muddled. We initially treated Saudi Arabia as a pariah. But as we closed the Keystone pipeline and treated oil companies as domestic pariahs, gasoline prices skyrocketed. We fail to recognize that the total transition to renewables will take decades, and we need stable energy sources until then, including fossil fuels and nuclear energy. So we had to romance the Saudis as they threatened to cut oil production, aggravating Biden’s inflation problem.

Speaking of energy, we exported record amounts of liquified natural gas to NATO countries as they abruptly cut off purchasing gas and oil from Russia. So now the Biden administration decided to pause approvals of new licenses to export liquified natural gas. Meanwhile, Canada is filling the vacuum for our NATO allies who seek to help Ukraine.

Just as we used half-measures in confronting Iran and its proxies, we did so with impunity in helping beleaguered Ukraine in its battle for survival against Russia’s ruthless invasion. We didn’t adequately respond to Russia’s invasion in 2014, in violation of the Budapest Memorandum, which we signed when Ukraine relinquished its nuclear weapons. Our humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan with the loss of 13 of our troops, hundreds of Afghanis, and the abandonment of thousands of our allies certainly did not deter Putin. And our unwillingness to provide Ukraine with offensive weapons and F-16 aircraft shackled Ukraine’s offensive capabilities, leading to the dangerous stalemate it faces against a more powerful and populous enemy.

And now, with a dysfunctional Congress and cynical presidential politics, aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan is in question.

We are living in dangerous times in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and the Indo-Pacific. We can’t afford a muddled foreign policy, careening from one political interest group to another. We need what management theorists call unity of purpose.

Harry Truman, who had a graduate degree in common sense, recognized this after World War II was won. “We must earn the peace we seek just as we earned victory in the war, not by wishful thinking but by realistic effort,” he said. “At no time in our history has unity among our people been so vital as it is at the present time. Unity of purpose, unity of effort, and unity of support are essential to accomplish the task before us.”

Ulysses Grant earned the nickname “Unconditional Surrender” because of his determination to achieve total victory for the troops under his command as well as for the nation. Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt’s clarion call for unconditional surrender provided the vision for our Allied forces waging war against fascism.

We need unity of purpose in defeating our enemies and guiding our foreign policy from its muddled path. We must remember that decisive victory for the Israelis and ourselves achieves the greatest deterrence. And deterrence maintains the peace.

Max Kleinman of Fairfield was the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest from 1995 to 2014. He is the president of the Fifth Commandment Foundation and consultant for the Jewish Community Legacy Project.

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