You know the major foreign threats to the United States — Russia, Iran, North Korea, and terrorism. We’ve been talking about them for years. Today, we’re in a bad place on all of them. It’s an object lesson in the dangers of kicking the can down the road.
Now, that doesn’t mean I want us to charge in, guns blazing, whenever a foreign threat rears its head. Of course there are crises when we need to act fast. But by and large, the United States should play the long game.
It suits us not to rush. Our Constitutional system isn’t built to do things in a hurry. And we’re bigger and richer than our adversaries. In poker, assuming everyone has roughly equal ability and luck, the player with the largest stack has an advantage. The same is true in international relations.
But to play the long game, we must get in the game. It means we must recognize who our enemies and adversaries are, and consistently apply pressure to them. If that results in a change of regime — as it did with the USSR — all the better. But at the very least, it puts us in a position to do deals that work.
What have we done with our big problems instead? We’ve kicked the can down the road. On Russia, both George W. Bush and Barack Obama tried to be friends. Both were disappointed….
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