A few days before America’s 2022 midterm elections, Ukraine’s President
accused Russia of firing a rocket into Poland. It was a claim with extraordinary implications. Poland, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, benefits from the alliance’s mutual defense pact—an attack against one is an attack against all. The U.S. would plausibly have an obligation to respond militarily to a Russian attack inside Poland. In making the accusation, Mr. Zelensky was pushing on the dominoes that could start the world’s first war between nuclear powers.
The rocket attack, it turns out, came not from
Russia but from Ukrainian air defenses. Even after NATO made that assessment and acknowledged that Russia hadn’t fired the rocket, Mr. Zelensky continued to deny Ukrainian responsibility. The story faded from the headlines, and Mr. Zelensky enjoyed a hero’s welcome in Washington in December. American taxpayer money has continued to flow to Ukraine. A wiser foreign policy wouldn’t have let such conduct go unnoticed.
Bipartisan foreign policy consensus has led the country astray many times. Leadership in both parties supported the invasion of Iraq, the decadeslong nation-building project in Afghanistan, regime change in Libya and guerrilla war in Syria. All of these policies cost a lot of money and killed many. None of those conflicts has served the nation’s long-term interest. Very few were ever challenged by a leader of national significance.
That is, of course, until
came along. American partisans view Mr. Trump’s record primarily through a domestic lens. To my fellow Republicans, Mr. Trump lowered taxes and worked hard to deregulate the federal bureaucracy. To Democrats, Mr. Trump was a corrupt narcissist who earned his two impeachments. Yet neither party acknowledges perhaps the most important part of Mr. Trump’s legacy: his successful foreign policy.
My entire adult lifetime has been shaped by presidents who threw America into unwise wars and failed to win them. I had just started high school when
George W. Bush
was elected president, and his presidency is the first I remember with any detail. Mr. Bush allowed a just war in Afghanistan to turn into a nation-building quagmire…