Washington Post Opinion Columnist Henry Olsen writes: As helicopters frantically evacuate Americans from the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan — an ominous echo from the fall of Saigon — the world is asking is what comes next for U.S. foreign policy. The loss in Vietnam was followed by years of U.S. retreats and defeats, culminating in the Iran hostage crisis. President Biden and Democrats in Congress must not allow that to happen again.
[…]Global leaders may now wonder whether the United States’ ignominious defeat in Afghanistan foretells another period of impotence. But the post-Vietnam period was not preordained by Saigon’s fall. It was a choice that President Jimmy Carter and Democrats in Congress made under the belief that the United States’ “inordinate fear of communism” was a cause of global strife.
President Biden must not make the same choice. He should show our adversaries and our allies that he intends to maintain and restore U.S. global leadership with deeds as well as words. That could involve a series of concrete steps that may be controversial.
China is our most dangerous global foe, and combating its pernicious rise must be Biden’s primary global task. Following the weekend’s catastrophe, Biden should make clear that the United States considers Taiwan’s autonomy from China to be of the utmost importance. That statement should be followed by selling advanced weaponry to the Taipei government and by negotiating troop deployments in neighboring countries that are closer to Taiwan than our bases in Japan, which are more than a thousand miles away. He must also maintain U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods and push harder to decouple the United States’ economy from its dangerous dependence on business controlled by the Communist Party.
- The ascension of a hard-liner to Iran’s presidency makes clear that clerics in Tehran intend to use negotiations over a renewed nuclear deal the same way that the Taliban played U.S. negotiators. Biden would reassure our allies by pulling out of these negotiations, citing what all parties know to be Iranian intransigence over its nuclear program. This unexpected move would show our allies that the United States will not again be deceived.
- Biden should also more forcefully oppose Russia’s malign machinations. He should increase aid to Ukraine and work to thoroughly isolate Belarus, Russia’s despotic ally. And he should consider stationing U.S. troops in Poland, a move long sought by that nation, without removing troops from German bases. Together, these moves would show Europe that the United States isn’t going anywhere.
- Finally, Biden will need to increase defense spending. The U.S. military is huge, but it is too small to meet its global commitments. Military leaders say they need increases of between 3 and 5 percent a year for the next few years to begin to rebuild the force structure we need. Biden should give them what they need.
Read more: https://wapo.st/2W2G8Tq.