Pete Hoekstra, Free Press guest writer, freep.com
American voters will demand a fresh start for U.S. foreign policy when the next president is sworn into office on January 20, 2017.
Americans demanded a redirection in international affairs after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and they demanded as much in 2009 when President Barack Obama assumed office after promising a new beginning after the failed policies of the Bush administration.
The bottom line is that since 9/11, America has been losing the war against radical Islamists. We sacrificed young men and women. We invested billions of dollars in fighting conflicts and providing economic assistance, yet today we find ourselves in worse shape than ever.
Extremists control a caliphate the size of Indiana in Syria and Iraq and are rapidly creating a caliphate in Libya. Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen are all failed states that most likely will never reemerge in their previous form. Millions of refugees are flooding into Europe, some of whom are believed to be ISIS agents. Terrorist attacks are on the rise around the world.
It’s scary and frustrating. Americans don’t appreciate — and are not accustomed to — losing. They need the next commander-in-chief to adopt the lessons learned from the past 14 years to chart a path ahead that will result in progress and success.
I have endorsed Ohio Gov. John Kasich for president because I believe he will practice this fundamental approach to national security. His 18 years on the House Armed Services Committee and successful conservative record leading the seventh-largest state — a must-win state for Republicans — have given him the knowledge and wisdom America has lacked in our commander-in-chief.
But where would a new administration begin?
First, I suggest that it form a bipartisan coalition of experts and politicians and invite them into the inner circle of advisers. The criteria for admission are knowledge, experience and background on the issues; a willingness to address challenges and solutions through a fresh perspective; a dedication to maintaining the integrity of processes, and a commitment by both the president and the group to work together for the long term.
America needs American solutions, not Democratic or Republican solutions.
The next administration must regain the trust of the people. It must develop creative strategies and explain them in detail, including the expected results and the risks and costs involved.
Second, the next president must rebuild international relationships and identify metrics for alliances. Such criteria must become sustainable from one administration to the next. Public diplomacy must remain an essential component of moving forward.
Third, the next leader must identify America’s enemies and exactly how they pose a danger. We must destroy some adversaries such as ISIS and other radical jihadist groups. Other opponents are those nation states with which we disagree, but do not currently require any military action. The west can contain and restrain them by mechanisms such as sanctions. The U.S. needs to identify red lines and enforce them.
Fourth, the president must identify objectives. Is our intent to promote economic and national security, build democracies, foster free markets and build nations? Are such goals mutually exclusive?
Fifth, the incoming administration must recognize the reach and the limitations of U.S. power. It can deploy its military most anywhere in the world and win a battle but lose the war. The last two presidents have evinced the proclivity to do so first in Iraq and again in Libya.
It must improve cooperation and coordination with allies — militarily and economically — all from an intelligence standpoint. It must evolve U.S. Armed Services by providing it with the resources to fight today’s wars and tomorrow’s threats.
Finally, new leadership needs to demonstrate a willingness to swallow its pride. Implementing a successful foreign policy is hard work. It will inevitably misstep, and it needs to acknowledge as much.
Sound foreign policy achieves safety and security for America, but it also projects our values to the world. Those values will spread not because we impose them, but because practicing them creates an example of stability and success to which others will aspire.
Pete Hoekstra is a former U.S. Representative and former chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence.