Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is urging Joe Biden to dump President Trump’s “America First” foreign policy for a more “cooperative” approach with the country’s allies around the globe.
“In January, when President Joe Biden and his national security team begin to reevaluate U.S. foreign policy, we hope they will quickly revise the national security strategy to eliminate ‘America first’ from its contents, restoring in its place the commitment to cooperative security that has served the United States so well for decades,” Mattis wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine in an op-ed published Monday.
“The best strategy for ensuring safety and prosperity is to buttress American military strength with enhanced civilian tools and a restored network of solid alliances – both necessary to achieving defense in depth,” he continued.
Mattis, who stepped down in December 2018 after clashing with Trump’s policy against protracted engagement in Syria, said “‘America first’ has meant ‘America alone.’”
“The United States today is undermining the foundations of an international order manifestly advantageous to U.S. interests, reflecting a basic ignorance of the extent to which both robust alliances and international institutions provide vital strategic depth,” Mattis wrote adding that the policy “has damaged the country’s ability to address problems before they reach U.S. territory and has thus compounded the danger emergent threats pose.”
In the article titled “Defense in Depth,” Mattis criticized Trump and Biden for referring to “forever wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Trump administration earlier this month announced that the Pentagon will cut US forces in Afghanistan to 2,500 from 4,500, and in Iraq to 2,500 from 3,000.
Mattis said the troops and diplomats stationed in Asia, Europe and the Middle East act as an “early warning system” that raise necessary alarms about threats that develop and give the US time to react.
“To dismiss U.S. involvement today in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere as ‘endless’ or ‘forever’ wars – as both President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden do – rather than as support to friendly governments struggling to exert control over their own territory misses the point,” he said.
“It is in the United States’ interests to build the capacity of such governments to deal with the threats that concern Americans; that work isn’t quick or linear, but it is an investment in both greater security and stronger relationships and preferable to the United States’ indefinitely having to take care of threats on its own,” he continued.