Do not believe the hype that the Democrats are somehow the more rational alternative on foreign policy.
Lest we forget, this is a party that brought us World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Not to mention the post-Cold War era “humanitarian” interventions in the Balkans, Libya, and Syria. The only time the party showed some degree of restraint was under the leadership of the underrated Grover Cleveland, who actually pulled back from the treaty that set forth the path towards Hawaii’s annexation. However, Cleveland turned out to be an outlier among Democrats.
With Joe Biden now at the helm, there is no real sign of him trying to wind down the never-ending wars. The Syrian conflict continues and the Afghanistan withdrawal plan is very much in the air. In the latter case, there’s talk of still maintaining troops because of Russia’s and China’s growing influence in the country due to presence of rare earth minerals that great powers have an interest in procuring these resources.
The U.S. military and foreign policy establishments are now shifting their gears to focus on great power competition. This change in foreign policy emphasis will be a boon for the defense industry and power-hungry foreign policy hawks who will be exaggerating threats to boost defense budgets and get the U.S. involved in potentially devastating conflicts.
Investigative journalist Lee Fang made an interesting point in a tweet he posted back in November where he exposed the candid statements of a corporate bigwig in the military-industrial complex.
CEO of defense contracting giant Leidos to investors re: Trump’s withdrawal of troops. “If it quiets down in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s going to get hot someplace else. And unfortunately, history has told us is that there’s always a place to deploy troops.”
CEO of defense contracting giant Leidos to investors re: Trump's withdrawal of troops. "If it quiets down in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's going to get hot someplace else. And unfortunately, history has told us is that there's always a place to deploy troops."
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) November 17, 2020
We should be wary of troop withdrawal announcements and what is done next. For all we know, they could be shifted to another geopolitical theater. Unfortunately that’s the nature of foreign policy in the post-Cold War era, where politicians are constantly striving to maintain unipolarity, despite it being a distant memory now that China and Russia are becoming more assertive on the national stage. A Biden administration would be no break from the status quo. Do not buy the hype from foreign policy pundits who think Biden is a more reasonable or saner alternative to national populist leaders like former President Donald Trump.
Granted, Trump did not fully deliver on his foreign policy promises, which is largely the product of institutional inertia and him foolishly staffing his administration with neocon foreign policy advisers. However, there is an insurgent movement on the Right that is beginning to question the foreign policy dogmas of yore and offering a platform of restraint instead.
It’s key that institutions promoting restraint are built so that Trump can have a steady pipeline of restrainers to staff positions of power. In an ideal world, we would have multiple Douglas Macgregors advising Trump or any national populist successor occupying the presidency.
All things considered, the Republican Party, not the Democrat Party, will be the main vehicle for foreign policy restraint from here on out.