18 October 2016

Notes from Norm: Facing a Dangerous World

America’s next President will face a world that is more complex, more uncertain and more dangerous than at any time since the end of the Cold War.

Russian aggression, China’s ambitions, Syria’s Civil War, Iraq’s collapse, Iran’s nuclear ambitions and ISIS’s designs to destroy America and our allies at home and abroad will require deft diplomacy and a wise use of American power and influence.

President Obama’s policies have exacerbated these challenges – making our country less secure – and making the world more unstable.

While domestic policy demands prompt attention, there is no doubt that pressing matters on the international stage will likely be of immediate priority to the next President.

Create a new partnership with Congress: America’s government works best when America’s government finds ways to work together.  It isn’t necessary for the President and Congress to agree on every issue.  In fact, there should be no reasonable expectation that they will.

Restore trust with Israel: No President has done more to undermine our historic ties and bonds with Israel than the Obama Administration.  The next President can ill-afford to continue this division if we are to successfully confront the growing threat of Iran in the region and throughout the world.

Call terror by its name: Radical Islamic Terror is not a slogan.  It’s not beside the point.  It is the point.

If we cannot call evil by its name, we cannot create the national will to confront and defeat it.  One of the first things the current Administration did when it took office was sweep the global war on terror under the rug.  As if ignoring it or calling it by another name would make it go away it actually allowed it to grow and fester both at home and around the world.

Confront Russia:  If claims that Russia has deliberately taken steps to intervene in America’s electoral process are true we can no longer ignore Vladimir Putin as a troublemaking despotic bully leading regional power.  His actions in Crimea, Syria and efforts to destabilize other regions of the world underscore the fact that Mitt Romney was right when he said “Russia, this is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe,” Romney said. “They fight every cause for the world’s worst actors…”

Punish North Korea: Is it any wonder that Kim Jong-Un continues to focus on developing a reliable nuclear weapon and a missile system to deliver it? He’s been hiding in plain sight when he makes it abundantly clear he will not hesitate to use it against the United States if, or when, he succeeds.

Before he gets his chance the U.S. must engage its partners in placing withering sanctions on the country, focusing our efforts on North Korea’s leaders and his enablers.  If China cannot, or will not, act to bring Kim Jong-Un to heel, it is in our national self-interests to do it ourselves.

Stiffen our resolve with Iran:  As many, including myself, warned when the Obama Administration decided to negotiate a nuclear agreement with Iran that makes it stronger and more likely to develop a nuclear weapon, its leaders have no intention of playing nice with the United States or the international community.

Communicating to a more aggressive Iran that we are prepared to confront them around the world is the first-step to sending a message to them that America is committed to keeping a nuclear weapon out of the hands of Iran.

Engage the American People: Decades from now I believe historians will find that America wasn’t nearly as divided as the President and his allies wished us to believe.

This isn’t the America we live in.  It shouldn’t have to be the America we have been told exists.

Perhaps more than anything, the most important thing the next President can do as he or she embarks upon leading America forward the next four years, is to remind us that we are the greatest nation on Earth.

That our people, each and every one of us, play a vital and necessary role in keeping us that way.

President Obama spoke to those values in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention.

“Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.

Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America.

There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America… We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.”

In the end, President Obama’s rhetoric soared well beyond his reality.  Let us pray that our next President can rise above the ugliness and divisiveness of this brutal campaign and truly find a way to bring us together.