Column originally published in the Tampa Bay Times.
While many don’t choose to openly cheer aggression and retribution as a tool of foreign policy, earlier this month the red, white and blue went black and blue against Bashar Assad, Syria’s reincarnation of Joseph Stalin.
And the feeling was good.
While Scripture counsels us to “turn the other cheek” in the face of wrong, how can the world turn its collective cheek when bearing witness to a desperate despot gassing innocent women and children to death as a tool of crowd control?
The same could be said about a maniac in North Korea playing with one-day armed rockets like they are Tonka toys, and taking out his own advisers he feels are not entirely pro-him with anti-aircraft guns.
Or about ISIS, which just received an explosive 21,000-pound love note from President Donald Trump.
That’s why these seven words, descended from the political heavens this week, represent the Maginot Line in America’s approach to leadership, the moment when we said we’ve had enough and the world cheered.
“The era of strategic patience … is over.”
When Vice President Mike Pence banned this concept from the lexicon of America’s “now” foreign policy, he sent a very clear signal to the American people seeking evidence of something different, something better than long-standing foreign policies mired in apology and fecklessness.
After the bungling in Benghazi turned heroes into unwitting martyrs?
After trusting the distrustful led to America’s nuclear pact with Iran? Despite that nation’s record of scoring bonus points with radical Islamist terrorists, and resolve to eradicate the nation of Israel from the face of this earth?
After looking the other way in Syria and Somalia and Yemen, then coming face-to-face with the horror of ISIS-bred violence fueled by beheadings and hatred where we showed up for the knife fight with an edgeless sword?
After doing nothing about almost anything for as long as we care to remember?
Au contraire, mon ami. Welcome to the new American Doctrine grounded in fairness, fortified by strength and backed by some of the best names in the business of planetary peacekeeping (Mattis, Masterson, Kelly); and to a new foreign policy no longer foreign to its sponsors, the American people.
The World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Risk Report issued from the scenic town of Davos a few months ago was anything but idyllic. The top 10 list should keep all of us awake at night, rendering the word “dangerous” simultaneously cliché and passe.
After predictions of cataclysmic weather events, natural and manmade, the list reads like a recitation of the plagues intoned at every Jewish Passover: the destabilization of nations caused by large-scale involuntary migration; round-the-clock cyberattacks; emerging technology threats; abject failures in national governance; terrorism (again), regional conflicts (call ’em “small wars”); and massive unemployment (lighting the fuse to social instability).
It should also be noted, with white-knuckled serenity, that four nations gave up their membership in the International Criminal Court last year fueled by the promise to self-police their own actions. One of the Fantastic Four: crisis-peddling, election-meddling, world-destabilizing Russia.
Then there’s this one, courtesy of Pyonyang’s master manipulator of insanity: weapons of mass destruction. Finally, in place of the perfunctory diplomatic dross of blather, we have opted to take this one head-on.
Courtesy of a new president, an “A Team” of no-nonsense foreign policy advisors, and a Trump-fueled willingness among Kim Jong-Un’s “daddies” in China to get involved for fear of getting trade-gutted, we’ve put North Korea on the clock. Enough is enough.
Our patience has come to an end.
This will be a moment when a new president is tested and gauged, when actions taken (or not) will be revered or reviled by historians of a future we’ll never personally experience but will be populated by those we care most about: our children.
Sending cruise missiles to stop genocide, dropping a weapon-of-all-weapons to decimate ISIS, and asserting leadership in corralling despotic terror are all courtroom evidence of an American foreign policy informed by the past and committed to protect the future.
The instruction manual for this new world order was essentially penned by America’s Navy Seals, every day heroes who are willing to die so our nation can survive.
The Navy Seals Code: be loyal to country; pursue honor on and off the battlefield; take responsibility for yourself and for others; and always, always, be being willing to lead, ready to follow, and to never quit.
Time for America to live by this code of honor. All of us.
Adam Goodman is a national Republican media consultant based in Tampa and the first Edward R. Murrow Fellow at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He wrote this exclusively for the Tampa Bay Times.