Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

The Trump Doctrine: Deterrence without Intervention?

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign sought to overturn 75 years of bipartisan foreign policy orthodoxy, especially as it applied to the Middle East.

From 1946 to 1989, the Cold War logic was to use both surrogates and U.S. expeditionary forces to stop the spread of Communist insurrections and coups — without confronting the nuclear-armed USSR directly unless it became a matter of perceived Western survival, as it did with the Berlin airlift and the Cuban missile crises.

That logic led to major conflicts like Vietnam and Korea, limited wars in the Middle East and Balkans, interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean, and occasional nation-building in conquered lands. Tens of thousands of Americans died, trillions of dollars were spent, and the Soviet Union and most of its satellites vanished. “We won the Cold War” was more or less true.

Such preemptory American interventions still continued over the next 30 years of the post–Cold War “new world order.” Now the threat was not Russian nukes but confronting new enemies such as radical Islam and a rogue’s gallery of petty but troublesome nuts, freaks, and dictators — Granada’s Hudson Austin, an unhinged Moammar Qaddafi of Libya, Hezbollah’s terrorists in Lebanon, Nicaraguan Communist Daniel Ortega, Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega, the gang leader Mohamed Aidid of Somalia, the former Serbian thug Slobodan Milosevic, Mullah Omar of the Taliban, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, arch terrorist Osama bin Laden, the macabre al-Qaeda and ISIS, and on and on.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

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