Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump shocked the U.S. foreign policy establishment last week when he declared he might not defend NATO members from a Russian invasion if they hadn’t paid their dues. But when it comes to the Atlantic alliance, Trump’s misgivings go beyond dollars and cents.
Newt Gingrich’s speech at the Republican national convention illustrates how fear-mongers use an exaggerated threat of terrorism as an effective political tool. The key is to take a kernel of truth and add it to terrifying “black swan” scenarios to make threats seem greater than they really are.
The next U.S. president will have a chance to revalidate or reposition America’s engagement in Afghanistan. The larger challenge is to shift the debate about the U.S. commitment to longer-term goals, building on the gradual achievements of state-building rather than the enduring security challenges.