In any event, Pelosi’s travel to the world’s worst trouble spots creates significant confusion regarding official U.S. policies and politics. In flexing the flabby diplomatic muscles of the U.S. Congress, Pelosi is engaging the international community without any obvious coordination with the White House or the Department of State. The notion that anyone from the House of Representatives could have an impact on U.S. foreign policy or diplomacy is particularly ludicrous. Unfortunately, her trips seemingly amount to a last hurrah.
One of the greatest weaknesses of presidential leadership over the past 60 years has been the lack of presidential experience in the military and the inability to control the military. Several weeks before his seminal Farewell Address, President Dwight D. Eisenhower told his senior advisers in the White House, “God help this country when someone sits in this chair who doesn’t know the military as well as I do.” His successors have been deferential to the military and too many of them have used military force to bolster their credentials. This has been a major factor in the expanded power of the military establishment.
The United States and China could easily tone down their propaganda attacks. The United States should certainly do so because its strategic position is unassailable in East Asia, with military superiority in various domains. China lacks strategic allies and global power projection. The United States has important relations with Australia, Japan, India, South Korea, and various Southeast Asian states, a grouping which is beginning to resemble an anti-China partnership. China is making no effort to project power into regions outside its neighborhood; the United States has hundreds of facilities and bases the world over. President Biden needs to end the militarized approach to Asia, and initiate a bilateral dialogue.
There was no leader in the twentieth century who did more to end the Cold War, the over-militarization of his country, and the reliance on nuclear weaponry than Mikhail S. Gorbachev. At home, there was no leader in a thousand years of Russian history who did more to try to change the national character and stultifying ideology of Russia, and to create a genuine civil society based on openness and political participation than Mikhail S. Gorbachev. Two American presidents, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, could have done much more to help Gorbachev in these fateful tasks, but they were too busy pocketing the compromises that Gorbachev was willing to make.