The Jewish Policy Center doesn’t/can’t want to tell people what to do. We write about foreign and domestic policy to encourage people to think about what to do, and our members are quite clear about what they think. We posted an article about the possibility of Chinese mayhem near, but not directly against, Taiwan so others could determine how to think about China, the defense budget and American policy in the Pacific. A member very pointedly said we were foolishly missing a “historic moment” by writing about China instead of …

Well, instead of what?

Everything we are as Americans—and everything we want for and from others—is determined in some measure by how we define our allies and how we defend against our adversaries. So, some stock-taking on defense is appropriate.

We currently have the first administration since Eisenhower that has not engaged us in a foreign war. The Abraham Accords were done without the promise of American money or U.S. troops as “monitors.” (Remember President Bill Clinton offering to put American soldiers in Syria to monitor an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights? What would we have done when Syria and Iran decimated the country and dropped chemical weapons on Syrian civilians with Russian help?) This step back has allowed the United States to focus on a broad defense of the global commons, not being involved in other people’s civil or border wars, except for the appropriate punishment of Syria for using those chemicals and the destruction of the territorial base of the ISIS caliphate.

NATO has better accepted the challenge of defending itself, and its members have increased spending on their own defense, as well as redistributing the financial burden.

The United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, because Iran cheats. In a similar vein, the United States is withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty because Russia cheated. As with the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the president has made it clear that America will not remain a party to a treaty that does not serve U.S. interests.

The defense budget, which had declined precipitously under the years of crippling “sequestration,” has had as its priority restoration of a ready force. We have largely, though not completely, done that. The next focus of defense spending will be on R&D for future battles.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, China had been called out for acquiring American high-tech, which goes straight into the Chinese military, often under the pretext of “academic research.” Chinese technology has been banned from various Pentagon-related programs, as well as 5G communications programs. And new arrangements allow rare earth element mining to reduce reliance on China for minerals essential to weapons development and production.

The United States had gone too long without examining the internal machinations of the arms of the American intelligence establishment. Current events will take care of that.

Punishing the use of chemical weapons; ousting an international terror organization from its territorial base; holding China, Russia and Iran to account for their aggressive policies; encouraging our NATO allies to hold up their end of collective defense; spending closer to what we need to spend on our own defense; and limiting American exposure in foreign wars while defending the global commons.

On balance, it’s something to think about.

Shoshana Bryen is senior director of the Jewish Policy Center and editor of inFOCUS Quarterly

Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision

One of the most intriguing stories of the sudden Coronavirus crisis is the role of the internet. With individuals forced into home quarantine, most are turning further online for information, education and social interaction.

JNS's influence and readership are growing exponentially, and our positioning sets us apart. Most Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas. JNS is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

During this crisis, JNS continues working overtime. We are being relied upon to tell the story of this crisis as it affects Israel and the global Jewish community, and explain the extraordinary political developments taking place in parallel.

Our ability to thrive in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters. Monthly donations in particular go a long way in helping us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make during these challenging times. We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you blessings for good health and peace of mind.