The story is told about the painting of the famous photograph of Theodore Roosevelt, still hanging in the White House, by John Singer Sargent. Sargent had been waiting for several days seeking to find a time when T.R. could pose for the portrait. Sargent ran into President Roosevelt descending the White House staircase. He again asked T.R. when he could pose. Roosevelt replied: ”now.”
Baltimore’s revered late Mayor William Donald Schaefer was famous for his admonition to “do it now.” This take-charge, get it done attitude, allowed the city to improve and thrive. Early in the administration, President Trump appears to be exuding this approach, as many diverse actions are being taken quickly. Regardless of how you might feel about Trump, the “do it now” attitude in The White House is refreshing and welcomed.
Taking action is always preferable to inertia. The previous Obama administration often preferred to delay taking action, and this caused negative results, especially in foreign policy. This inaction was very very evident in the Middle East. The Obama administration was especially slow in taking any definitive action in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. By not taking decisive action in Iraq, that nation has reverted back to the rather ungovernable and chaotic quagmire which is not in the best interests of Iraq or the United States. A similar situation exists in Afghanistan, with the added threat of ISIS fighters being trained and exported from this essentially failed nation. Then there is Syria. The prolonged civil war there has resulted in one of the worst human disasters in modern history. The number of refugees who have escaped death and starvation is staggering.
Yet, the inaction of the Obama administration has allowed this situation to continue for much too long. Diplomacy has failed, and there is no coherent military strategy at work in this horrific morass. Essentially, Syria has become a puppet for Iran.
With the change of administrations in Washington, the Trump government will now inherit the results of the stagnation which has prevailed for the past eight years. Given the challenges, of a long-standing nature, it is essential that positions in the State Department are filled, and filled soon.
This confirmation of the new Secretary of State is most important. The sooner, the better.
Also, there is the relationship with Russia. It is complicated and questionable. Again, inaction and lack of involvement on the part of the United States was quite evident. Allowing the invasion and annexation of the Ukraine with only minimal United States involvement and assistance was a major blunder. The sanctions enacted by the United States were not significant and had done little to change the direction Putin has taken in meddling in the affairs of a free and sovereign nation. Perhaps another vital issue between the United States and Russia is that of oil. Russia, a large oil producer, is dependent on relations with other countries to export its oil to many nations, including those in Western Europe.
In addressing the current and potential conflicts with Russia, the new administration needs to adopt a “do it now” attitude. An attitude which demonstrates strength and resolve.
The current Trump administration has made several interesting comments regarding the United Nations and NATO. Both institutions need review and change. The U.N. needs to be less of a debating society and more action oriented. The divisions between the democratic and nondemocratic members of this world body are very diverse and self-centered. America has lost its leadership and its clout in the world due to its lethargy and vacillation in the U.N. The most recent action by the United States in not blocking the resolution against Israel was both a mistake and an insult to our closest ally in the Middle East. A review of NATO, its effectiveness, and financial arrangements, is in order. Established in Washington, D.C. in 1949,
NATO is a long-standing organization which needs to reflect worldwide military and security realities of the twenty-first century.
Even if the United States remains the primary world power, it cannot assume the financing of a multinational organization such as NATO. With participation comes responsibility. It is time the members of NATO examine this issue and make appropriate decisions. These decisions will be in their vital national interests and, hopefully, continued world peace.