Former UN-ambassador John Bolton has been in the news lately talking about how the United States should handle foreign affairs. Once a front-runner to be President Trump’s Secretary of State as well as National Security Adviser following the fall of Michael Flynn, Bolton’s now talking to every media outlet he can about the way the country needs to go.
The hawkish Bolton has been been giving some pretty mainstream advice, most recently saying defeating ISIS requires “180 degree difference” from Obama. I’m not a huge fan of the interventionalist mentality that Bolton often espouses, but on this particular topic he’s absolutely right.
According to Conservative Review, Bolton said:
Leave out for a moment the Iran nuclear program. Dealing specifically with the conflict with ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the president has requested from the Pentagon new options for revised war plans to destroy ISIS more quickly. And I think that’s important because every day that goes by, the ISIS people can recruit and deploy more terrorists around the world. It threatens us, it threatens Europeans.
Obama said his goal was to ultimately destroy ISIS, but it’s been a very slow rolling effort, and that’s got to change. It has to be done more quickly to minimize the potential external threat that ISIS can deploy.
Here’s the problem. Trump has been very consistent in attempting to fulfill his campaign promises. One thing that many, particularly hawkish Republicans, seem to forget is that he campaigned on an isolationist platform. Other than a handful of sound bites such as his claim that he’d “bomb the s–t out of them,” his campaign promises regarding ISIS were really geared more around intended results than actual actions. He said he’d stop them without really saying how. Unfortunately, we’ve heard the same rhetoric from his predecessor for a couple of years.
ISIS is on the ropes when it comes to land, but they are potentially more of a threat today than before. The current state of ISIS is as a lose organization with strangely centralized leadership that is flush with cash and support. They’ve gone into the shadows where they can operate more easily through terrorism while their military might has faded. They need to be eradicated and Bolton’s perspectives are correct on this issue.
President Trump wants to focus on the economy. He wants to leave other countries alone so they’ll leave us alone. His battleground is trade, not war. In the vast majority of scenarios, I’d completely agree. ISIS is different. They’ll bring the war to us no matter what we do.
There have been no indications from the administration that they intend to do anything different from Obama when it comes to ISIS other than saying they’re putting together a plan. In other words, they’re saying the same thing we’ve heard since it was realized ISIS isn’t the JV team.