Conservatives Debate Foreign Policy as US National Interests Are Ignored

December 29, 2021 Updated: January 3, 2022


A timely debate is taking place in conservative circles regarding policy priorities and where foreign policy should fit.

One side says that given how the Biden administration’s initiatives have led to chaos at home—inflation, high crime, unconstitutional vaccine mandates, and so forth—foreign policy is at present a distraction from the real fight here at home.

The other camp notes that regardless of our domestic turmoil, we should support the government’s efforts abroad to advance our security and economic interests, defend allies, and confront adversaries.

The two sides have typically mischaracterized each other, with one side described as interventionists and the other as isolationists. What’s fair to say is that the first camp is made up largely of the Republican establishment and the second camp is made up of writers and activists outside of the Beltway.

The former group believes that any effort to reassess the significance of its foreign policy mission would forfeit the limited power it has to shape outcomes now with a Democratic administration in charge. The latter group hears rumors of war with Russia over Ukraine, conflict with Iran, and a future fight with China for Taiwan and fears that the United States will soon be sending its children to fight for unworthy causes once again.

The debate is evidence of former President Donald Trump’s profound influence on conservative foreign policy, as the peculiar fact is that arguments on both sides are shaped by his America First vision. Yes, Trump campaigned against the strategically pointless wars his predecessors had waged in the Middle East and Central Asia, was skeptical about propping up corrupt foreign governments, and spoke out against funding NATO on behalf of European partners who refused to pay their share. And yet he was also a hugely successful foreign policy president precisely because he prioritized the interests of U.S. voters.

Trump fought off Democrat pressure to abandon Saudi Arabia as an ally by explaining how Saudi’s U.S. spending created American jobs and how Saudi oil kept energy prices low. He enhanced the U.S. position in the volatile Middle East by binding together U.S. Middle Eastern allies with the Abraham Accords, a historic series of peace agreements between Israel and several Muslim countries that were previously hostile toward the Jewish state.

He withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), President Barack Obama’s oath to legalize Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and took down Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian terror master with American blood on his hands. And maybe most importantly, through his words and policies, Trump forced the U.S. government to reckon with the fact that the People’s Republic of China isn’t simply a challenger or competitor, but the dominant threat to U.S. interests, particularly to U.S. workers.

Trump’s accomplishments reveal that the main problem with the conservative foreign policy debate isn’t that the two sides misunderstand each other. Rather, it’s that they’re mistaken about the nature of the faction currently running the U.S. government.

The chance that President Joe Biden will defend U.S. interests in any way against the powers that are typically regarded as America’s most dangerous adversaries—China, Russia, and Iran—is virtually nil. Biden, like Obama before him, has actively or effectively partnered with all three.

Biden brought Obama officials into his administration to restore the JCPOA and guarantee Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The president wants to finish his former boss’s work and realign U.S. interests with Iran by abandoning traditional U.S. Middle Eastern allies Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Until the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Vladimir Putin had to temper his ambitions regarding Ukraine. He needed Kyiv’s infrastructure to push gas into Europe and didn’t want to test whether the Ukrainians would shut it down in a game of mutually assured destruction. Nord Stream 2 takes gas from Russia to Germany directly. When Biden showed that he wouldn’t oppose it, he effectively greenlit Moscow’s recent moves against Kiev.

Chinese Communist Party (CCP) financial and spy networks have compromised Biden family members and high-level Biden officials throughout the federal government, including intelligence services and the Pentagon. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Mark Milley’s reported phone call to his Chinese counterpart to promise a warning in the event of a U.S. attack is evidence of the moral corruption and strategic failure at the highest levels of government regarding the CCP.

Why would the Biden White House protect U.S. rivals at the expense of Americans? Because like Obama, the current president sees foreign policy primarily as an instrument to reward his political allies and target his domestic opponents.

For instance, realigning U.S. interests with Iran and downgrading ties with Israel weaken the political clout of the Republican’s evangelical base, for whom the U.S.–Israel relationship is a covenant.

As for China, the bulk of the Democratic party’s money comes from Big Tech, Wall Street, and Hollywood, donors whose cash flow relies on good relations with Beijing. That’s part of what makes the Democrats America’s pro-China faction.

The fact that the Biden White House doesn’t have a foreign policy in the traditional sense of advancing national interest abroad makes the conservative debate even more consequential.

Our turmoil here at home is an effect of Biden’s war against Americans—from the illegal detention of Jan. 6 protestors to rising food and energy prices and from unconstitutional medical mandates to tasking the FBI to spy on parents and opposition activists. U.S. adversaries are watching from afar as the Biden administration works to divide, demoralize, and dismantle the United States, and it’s certain that they’ll do what they can to ensure his success.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Lee Smith
Lee Smith is a veteran journalist whose work appears in Real Clear Investigations, the Federalist, and Tablet.