Don’t Believe The Illusions
In a blistering op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on November 2, Catholic University professor of politics Jakob Grygiel outlines “Three Foreign Policy Illusions” that are confounding the response of the west to the evil rising all around us.
First, leaders of bad countries alone are responsible for wars. If these countries (Russia, Iran, China) had better leaders they wouldn’t be threats. Wrong says Grygiel. Ukraine is not just Putin’s war, it’s the Russians’ war. Similarly, the Israeli-Hamas conflict is not just because Hamas has evil leaders. They do, but they were elected by the people of Gaza after Israel withdrew from the enclave. And, you better believe that the Chinese people want Taiwan back, not just President Xi. And if the Iranian people really didn’t want an autocratic theocracy, they are smart enough to not have one. Sorry, the people of bad international actors don’t get a pass.
Second, our novel international organizations can somehow moderate the evil intentions of the bad actors. The United Nations? Surely, you jest. The UN is part of the problem. If Russia and China can veto anything that they don’t like in the Security Council, what’s the likelihood that the UN will be good for anything except Christmas cards?
Third, “greater trade and wealth produce peace.” That’s what the Germans thought so they hitched their heat in winter to Russian gas and now they are funding the war in Ukraine—on the wrong side.
As Israel is illustrating to the world, these three ideas are indeed illusions.
If you eliminated the head of Hamas or even the leadership in Iran, what makes anyone think that the violence and anti-Semitism would stop? It won’t. Countries like Iran only understand one thing. Raw power. Israel will get no help from any international organization given that most of them equate the October 7 massacre with Israel’s response to it and don’t mind equating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism. Finally, Israel trades with everyone and wants to expand to increase relationships with the Sunni states of the Gulf. That won’t help them here and certainly, as October 7 shows, will not preserve the peace.
Israel understands that the only way to get the attention of Hamas and Iran is at the point of a gun. Unfortunately, its dreadful leadership and strategy to deal with the West Bank and Gaza has led to what is transpiring right now.
But the real lesson is to the United States, the only superpower that can stand up to Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. No amount of regime change will alter our relationships with these bad actors unless the people of the countries make the leadership change. No international organization be it NATO, the UN, or the European Union will alter bad behavior unless that organization has a large and threatening military presence. And business will not guarantee peace.
Wake up America. You are in an existential battle to preserve freedom. Suit up for battle and you might not have to fight. The Defense Department budget must grow—by a lot. More ships, more planes, more soldiers. Those resources need to be deployed to Taiwan as a preventative measure against the Chinese threat.
Finally, I do not believe that there is any way to avoid a hot war with Iran if the Middle East is to ever see true peace. A force like that mustered by President George H. W. Bush in the Gulf War is needed. Sunni states must be involved and Iran, not Palestine, needs to be freed.
There can be no appeasement of the mullahs in Tehran. It simply will not work. These miniscule bombings of Iranian surrogates in Syria and Iraq that are attacking American troops will do nothing. There is no avoiding this. Iran is the problem. Deal with it.