alliances, America First, Associated Press, Blob, China, deterrence, globalism, Jim Mattis, Joe Biden, Mark Milley, North Korea, nuclear umbrella, Our So-Called Foreign Policy, Poland, South Korea, Soviet Union, tripwires, Trump
Here’s one that genuinely justifies that over-used term, “You can’t make this up.”
Practically ever since President Trump assumed office, his globalist foreign policy critics have been attacking his claims that maintaining the status quo with U.S. security alliances couldn’t be a top priority of American foreign and national security policy. In this vein, they contemptuously derided as “transactional” his belief that rather than viewing these arrangements as vital ends in and of themselves, Washington needed continuously to make sure that they were creating at least as many benefits as problems for the nation.
Indeed, fetishizing alliances was so deeply embedded in the consciousness of the globalist bipartisan U.S. foreign policy Blob that Jim Mattis, the retired Marine Corps General who served as the first Trump Secretary of Defense, based his resignation largely on the argument that the President did not share his “core belief…that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships.”
So imagine my surprise upon reading an Associated Press story Thursday reporting that U.S. Army General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff (the nation’s top military office), has recommended that Washington – obviously meaning the probably incoming Biden administration – should reconsider “permanently positioning U.S. forces” overseas in instances where these servicemen and women are not actively engaged in combat.
Now it’s true that Milley, at least reportedly, was never especially tight with Mattis in particular. But in this age of political generals and admirals, he couldn’t have risen through the ranks this high had he dissented significantly from the globalist line. And Milley has spoken of the need for U.S. alliances in pretty urgent terms himself.
But there he was this past week, giving a speech on the future of warfare that not only called for more selectivity in creating and maintaining an American military footprint abroad, but basing this proposal largely on his unhappiness – and this is the real shocker – that the so-called forward deployment of these units has usually been accompanied by the families of soldiers, sailors, and airmen, and therefore places them in harm’s way.
His position is a shocker because, as I’ve explained before, stationing spouses and children so vulnerably has been a linchpin of globalist strategy toward alliances. They play a crucial role in turning the units they’re linked with into genuine tripwires – forces whose likelihood of defeat at the hands of much larger and stronger invaders like the Soviets or the North Koreans would give an American President little choice but to use nuclear weapons to avert disaster.
Of course, this approach didn’t stem from itchy nuclear trigger fingers in Washington. Quite the opposite: The working assumption was that the high probability of U.S. nuclear weapons use would deter conventional military aggression to begin with. And the probability that their attacks would wind up killing American non-combatants as well as troops was seen as an even stronger forcing event for nuclear weapons use – a situation that, in strategic parlance, would make this contingency more credible, thereby further inhibiting (or, again using strategy-ese, deterring) enemies from striking.
Skeptical? This is exactly why countries like Poland have been urging recent American Presidents to replace the policy of rotating various U.S. units in and out of their lands with big, permanent deployments. And weirdly and alarmingly, Mr. Trump has taken some steps in this direction.
I’ve concluded that, although the creation of such so-called nuclear umbrellas was defensible during the Cold War, when it was used to protect genuinely vital regions like Western Europe and Japan, and when its use in Asia was aimed at prospective foes that lacked nuclear retaliatory forces, it’s recklessly dangerous today. For the Soviet Union is an increasingly distant memory, many major U.S. allies are amply capable of their own defense, Asian adversaries have become able to strike the American homeland with their own nuclear weapons, and the security of South Korea in particular is no longer crucial for the United States’ own safety and well-being (as opposed to Taiwan, which, as I’ve recently argued, has moved into this category because of its world-class semiconductor manufacturing capability).
Not even the America First-y President Trump has gone remotely this far in actually changing U.S. alliance policy. Yet there was Milley, including in his remarks the statement that if war came with North Korea, “we would have a significant amount of non-combatant U.S. military dependents in harm’s way….I have a problem with that.”
The General didn’t make the needed follow-on case that the presence of these civilians has turned these alliances into “transmission belts of war” that could easily go nuclear and bring on the incineration of entire American cities. But an administration that followed his recommendations would greatly reduce this unnecessary potential danger.
So whether Milley recognizes the full implications of his stance or not, all Americans should hope that he keeps pushing this position as he continues as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs past Inauguration Day, and that even some of the globalist enthusiasts of the Biden administration start listening.