Raising the Standard at UGA since 2013.

A Foreign Relations To-Do List: Our Future Abroad

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Decisions today determine the safety of world tomorrow.

We are not in Kansas anymore. The Trump administration inherited a potent world full of foreign challenges: the growth of North Korea’s nuclear arms programs, the Iran nuclear deal, a Syrian civil war and refugee crisis, and a Russian president with increasingly imperialistic instincts. Since the inauguration, each situation has escalated. The time has come for the current administration to take action to resolve these issues.

At the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that US-Russian relations have worsened due to a “Russo-phobic hysteria” that began under the Obama administration. As a result, Lavrov believes that international issues that could be resolved with a U.S.-Russia partnership are simply not being resolved. He also made it clear that starting a war on the Korean Peninsula is “unacceptable.” When Edith Lederer of The Washington Post asked about Trump’s threat to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal at the UN General Assembly, Lavrov said that it would be best for all parties to remain in the deal because a collapse would render the sanctions imposed on North Korea less meaningful.

It would seem, according to Minister Lavrov, that Russia is willing to cooperate with the U.S. to solve issues surrounding North Korea and Syria. The U.S. and Russia have always had a tense relationship and allegations of electoral interference do not help. There is a clear the lack of proof found in the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Therefore, it is well past time for the United States to abandon the charge of election interference and work with Russia to stabilize hostilities around the world, starting with North Korea. A cooperative Russia would help tremendously with the nonproliferation of the North Korean nuclear program.

Also speaking at the UNGA, Iran’s deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi declared that Trump’s call for the U.S. to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal would catalyze a new arms race. While there are many critics to infamous ‘Iran Deal,’ it seems as if Iran is serious about halting their nuclear missile program. They were one of 122 countries that signed a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons this past July (the U.S., along with Russia, China, France, and U.K. did not). Another drawback from pulling out of the agreement is it would greatly diminish any chance of reaching a similar agreement with North Korea. One of the main reasons for Trump’s possible exit is Israel’s opposition to the deal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes that the deal will allow Iran to create weapons of mass destruction. A plus from the deal is that American companies can do business with the people of Iran. It seems that, while there is certainly a chance that Iran will go back on its word, keeping the deal is the best move going forward.

The conflict in Syria is winding down, according to Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moualem. al-Moualem said that Islamic State power is shrinking, thanks in part to the Syrian army and supporters, like Russia and Iran. However, the United States is fearful of either of those countries gaining power in the region, hence state-run channel Rossiya-24 and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov’s accusation of the U.S. of coordinating its plans with the Islamic State. Truly, there is nothing the people of the United States despise more than terrorism, but there is little that bothers the U.S. government more than the idea of Russia or Iran gaining outsized influence in the Middle East. This presents a classic dilemma: which evil to choose? The Islamic State has largely kept its extremist agenda out of the States, focusing instead on the Middle East and western Europe. If the Pentagon is indeed collaborating with the Islamic State, they chose to do so because there is no real conflict between the two, but rather a greater fear of Russia and Iran gaining power. If this is the case, there is a serious question that has to be answered: who will win? If Foreign Minister al-Moualem is correct and the conflict is indeed dying down, then our opposition towards Iran and Russia is futile. The Islamic State could continue to spread their power across the region. At some point the US has to decide between slowing Iran’s and Russia’s increases in power, and conceding that power to defeat the Islamic State.

Across the planet, the growing threat of a North Korean missile attack dominates the news, and it will continue to do so until addressed. Either the United States and its allies, along with Russia and China will put their differences aside and work together to peacefully disarm North Korea, or everyone will face the consequences of whatever Kim Jong-Un does. In a rare address, Kim Jong-Un personally declared that President Trump’s threat to “totally destroy” North Korea has “convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct.” The U.S. must band together with the powers of the region in order to take control of this threat. The current trajectory is certainly not sustainable.

There are attainable solutions to each of these challenges. It is up to the President, State Department, and the Department of Defense to determine what is the best course of action in each instance. However, the answer is certainly not inaction. Continuing to kick the can down the road as the Obama administration did with North Korea and Syria will only lead to greater challenges for the United States and other world leaders in the future.


Carson Brown is a freshman studying history. He is a regular contributor to The Arch Conservative. 

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