President Trump’s decision to freeze approximately $2 billion in U.S. security assistance to Pakistan has received cautious support from senior lawmakers and foreign policy analysts. And while the political and military calculus of suspending aid payments is complex, the Trump administration’s approach is sound.
Ambassador Nikki Haley pulled no punches at her Dec. 14 media conference in a U.S. Air Force hangar at Anacostia-Bolling. Taking what she called the “extraordinary step” of displaying missile parts that had been declassified for the event, she told reporters that it was Tehran that had supplied the equipment used by Houthi militants trying to attack the civilian airport in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. “The evidence is undeniable,” she said. “The weapons might as well have had “Made in Iran” stickers all over it.”
The Trump administration is on the precipice of making a major – and little-noticed – mistake in its foreign policy. As Reuters recently reported, the White House is preparing to shift oversight of the sale of American-manufactured small arms from the diligent State Department review process to the business-friendly Commerce Department. By loosening the inter-agency guidelines in an attempt to boost America’s share in the global marketplace, the Trump administration runs the risk of fueling the civil wars currently bringing misery to millions worldwide.
Donald Trump is just the latest U.S. president in a long list of commanders-in-chief who have failed to find a way to deal with North Korea. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, the central goal was preventing North Korean founder Kim Il Sung from redeploying his army south of the 38th parallel. For the last 25 years, however, the focus of U.S. policymakers has been something even more difficult: the denuclearization of the Kim dynasty.
The White House National Security Council (NSC) has no shortage of crises at the moment. Nuclear and missile proliferation on the Korean Peninsula, Islamic State-inspired attacks in western countries, the political and economic crisis in Venezuela and Russian military intervention in Ukraine, Georgia and Syria, to name just a few.
For the last five years, U.S. policy on the Syrian civil war has revolved around supporting the United Nations’ efforts to find a political accommodation between the main combatants in the war - and reminding anyone who will listen that only a political resolution will end the grinding conflict for good.