This World of Ours, 5/5/16

Luke Phillips


Progressive Republicans are many things, but in foreign policy they ought to be Eisenhower-Nixon-Daddy Bush Realists- supportive of defending (but not necessarily expanding) the international order, grim and pessimistic about the nature of man, the state, and war, acknowledging that prudence and vigor are the heroic virtues necessary for a capable defense, etc. etc. etc. We generally support higher and more efficient defense spending, multilateral diplomacy, and forceful posturing as elements of the power-balancing that fundamentally must define our world order if peace is to be preserved.

And the world is a dangerous place. To that end, I’ll be compiling lists of some important world events happening every few days, to give readers a quick look at some of the strategic realities American policymakers should be aware of. I might also be suggesting things Progressive Republican statesmen could do to make the said statecraft go well, better than isolationists, neoconservatives, or liberal internationalists could do it.

That all said, here’s a few stories today-

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that he will be stepping down shortly, evidently ousted by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Ankara, then, is seeing a consolidation of executive power by a single ambitious man. Similar trends are occurring around the world in great powers in crisis- witness President Xi Jinping in China or President Vladimir Putin in Russia. As Turkey deals with the migrant crisis, the Kurdish rebellion and peace talks, the relative rise of Iran and Russia in its near abroad, the Syrian Civil War, and internal disarray, the country’s fate is slowly being consolidated in Erdogan’s tyrannical hands.

The third American serviceman to be killed in the Third Iraq War (henceforth to be called “Iraq III” or, perhaps, “’Raq,”) was a Navy SEAL named Special Warfare Operator First Class Charles Keating IV. Petty Officer Keating was killed in a pitched firefight when ISIS bulldozers and gunmen rolled into the northern Iraqi town of Teskelof and engaged a company of SEALs. (Dozens of ISIS fighters met their maker, testifying to the deadly professionalism of American special operations forces.)

The incident highlights the question of what America’s role in Iraq is now and will be moving forward. There are quiet parallels to Kennedy’s and then Johnson’s gradual escalation of the Vietnam War, as it appears quite likely that American forces will rotate in and out of the Levant and Mesopotamia for quite some time. The lives we have lost and will continue to lose cannot be wasted- we must determine our true interests in the Middle East and, with firm resolution, figure out how to attain them. ISIS body counts are not enough.

Israeli jets bombed a Hamas compound on the Gaza Strip while Israeli and Hamas forces exchanged gunfire. Don’t forget about the Israel-Palestine issue- it hasn’t gone away.

Much more is happening, of course, including portended Pakistani arms deals with China and Russia and more talk of a Brexit. But we’ll cover those in the next issue. Til then, keep watching this world of ours.


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