As noted in last week’s issue of The Lighthouse, Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland has warned that the Obama administration’s foreign policies are bringing the United States into greater conflict with Russia and China. It’s entirely conceivable, Eland argues in two columns for the Huffington Post, that the Obama strategies will end up dragging the United States into war. First, let’s examine an emerging conflict between the United States and Russia.
Syria is quickly becoming a leading point of contention between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. Each believes his country’s interests with respect to Syria differ from the other’s: Putin wants to defeat ISIS (and other radical Islamist groups that could radicalize Russia’s Muslims) and shore up the Assad regime, whereas Obama wants to defeat ISIS and see Assad taken down. But as Eland explains, there is another, less-recognized factor that could prolong and deepen their conflict: Both Putin and Obama underestimate the limitations of relying on air power without “boots on the ground”—especially those of indigenous forces with intimate knowledge of the terrain and its people. If Obama better understood this reality, as well as the history of counterinsurgency campaigns (a subject to which Eland has devoted an entire book), the U.S. Commander in Chief would recognize that only Kurdish forces and the remnants of the Syrian army can defeat ISIS and other radical Islamist groups in Syria. Obama would also recognize that Syria is of no strategic value to the United States and would withdraw all U.S. military power from that hornet’s nest.
U.S.-China relations could also suffer, especially with respect to the military aspects of Obama’s “pivot to Asia.” Because China has territorial disputes with U.S. allies around the East and South China Seas, Washington’s strengthening of military ties in the region could drag the United States into war with Beijing, Eland argues. The potential for wars with China and Russia underscore the need for a return to foreign policies advocated by America’s Founders. Writes Eland: “George Washington wisely warned against the United States becoming involved in ‘permanent alliances,’ and Thomas Jefferson astutely cautioned against the country being bogged down by ‘entangling alliances.’ Obama is taking the opposite course by strengthening alliances that have become both permanent and entangling.”
Let’s Not Get Into It with China, by Ivan Eland (The Huffington Post, 9/21/15)
Russia versus the United States in Syria, by Ivan Eland (The Huffington Post, 10/5/15)
Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty (Updated Edition), by Ivan Eland