US Foreign Policy and Donald Trump

Pundits, politicians, progressives, and prophets panic over Donald Trump’s “failures” in his foreign policy. They may wish to reconsider.

“Disaster!” media outlets howl when they discuss American foreign policy in the first year of the Presidency of Donald Trump. Some commentators bemoan the withdrawal and even decline of US power, while others rejoice to see the return of a multipolar, rather than a unipolar (US “hyperpower”) or bipolar (US and USSR, or perhaps China, as superpowers) world. Recently the Economist, a British news magazine, announced that Trump has made America and the world less safe.

Whatever one thinks of President Donald Trump, he or she must consider these breathless pronouncements in terms of history and geopolitical reality, not just in terms of modern events. In a speech to the House of Commons (1 March 1848), Viscount Lord Palmerston (1784-1865) said “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”[1] He was right, and the permanent interests of nations are a surer guide to success on the international stage than the vagaries of the news cycle and the panic of political pundits.

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Greco-Turkish War 1919-1922

Blue Mosque - Istanbul (9)

The carnage and crucible of WW1 didn’t end in 1918, but the gruesome genocide continued. The Greeks and Turks fought for centuries before then, and have continued since. No wonder. 

World War I had been a catastrophe for the Ottoman Empire. Siding with the Central Powers, including Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Bulgaria, Sultan Mehmed V Rashād (The True Path Follower) fought the Serbians, Rumanians, Russians, British, French, Arabs, and others. The Turks enjoyed some early successes, notably at Gallipoli (1915) and Kut (1916). Such victories emboldened radicals in the government to attack their traditional enemies, the Armenians, and in this genocide 1.5 million Armenian Christians perished. The tide of war turned against the Ottomans, as it did against all of the Central Powers, and ultimately the strategically encircled Turks lost their empire and their political system. An estimated 5 million Turks died, the sultanate ceased to exist, and Mustafa Kemal, later known as the Father of the Turks (Ataturk), rose to prominence.

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