By Trudy Rubin
Almost everything I hope for when it comes to foreign policy in 2024 seems outlandishly Pollyanna-ish.
But a person has the right to dream, don’t they?
So here goes. I hope that Ronald Reagan will pay a supernatural New Year’s visit to Washington, to enlighten MAGA isolationists on how Vladimir Putin is brilliantly playing them and Donald Trump. (Maybe this hope is based on just rewatching Cary Grant in that great Christmas classic, “The Bishop’s Wife,” in which he comes to Earth to rescue a failing family.)
Reagan — for all his weak spots — understood how to play hardball with the Kremlin and would be astonished at the blindness of his current GOP conferences. Reagan would never have embraced Trump’s delusions that he could hand Ukraine over to Putin without strengthening the Russian dictator in his dangerous belief that America is a spent global power.
In case Reagan’s ghost doesn’t materialize, I’m also hoping President Joe Biden finally grasps that he must enable Ukraine to destroy Russian forces this year — before the GOP delivers Kyiv to Putin. Biden deserves kudos for helping Kyiv hold off Moscow’s superior forces for two years, but the slow drip of U.S. aid has left Ukraine’s ground forces in a stalemate.
Yet, Ukraine’s daring fighters have scored dramatic successes against Russia’s Black Sea navy; last week they destroyed a Russian ship at a port in occupied Crimea.
Early 2024 is the moment for Biden to finally deliver the long-range ATACMS missiles he keeps refusing, as well as the F-16s and everything else Kyiv needs to push the Russians out of Crimea and ensure their defeat.
I am hoping that sane Senate Republicans and Democrats come up with a desperately needed formula for asylum reform on the southern border, but, in my dreams, it shouldn’t be tied to Ukraine aid.
Meantime, I am hoping (but not hopeful) that the government of Israel’s highly unpopular Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will fall.
Otherwise, the Israeli leader’s policies are likely to drag his country into a disastrous reoccupation of Gaza and ensure that most Israeli hostages are killed in the fighting while laying waste to the entire Gaza Strip.
Yes, Israel needs to punish the Hamas terrorists for their heinous attack on Oct. 7.
Yet the current war strategy is unlikely to destroy Hamas’ vast underground tunnel network or catch its top leaders, even as it kills thousands of Palestinian civilians.
Even if Biden puts more pressure on Netanyahu to end the war sooner, I fear he will refuse. As his many Israeli critics point out, the longer the war extends, the longer Netanyahu can avoid taking responsibility for the government’s prewar security failures.
And the longer he can stave off his multiple trials for corruption. Not only do Netanyahu’s policies undermine his country’s future security, but they dash any hope that this brutal war can lead to a diplomatic formula that addresses the broader issues that underlie the fighting — the political future of the Palestinian people or even the future of the Gaza Strip.
Most of all, however, I’m hoping the majority of U.S. voters in 2024 will recognize that, like the emperor in the old fairy tale, the wannabe dictator Trump “has nothing on” except his ego. When it comes to foreign policy, he failed miserably on almost every issue as president. Openly admiring dictators, he was fooled by Putin and by North Korea’s Kim Jong-un — who built up his nuclear arsenal even as Trump bragged of the “love letters” between them.
Trump’s policy on China, based only on raising tariffs, failed to make any progress on wider security issues. It was Trump who signed the surrender agreement with the Taliban.
Trump’s Middle East policies wrongly assumed that the Palestinian political issue could be ignored indefinitely. His proposed draconian trade tariffs would cost American jobs, raise prices and further antagonize allies. Putin is openly rooting for a GOP victory in 2024 because he expects Trump’s global policies will undermine democracies around the world and strengthen dictators like him. I hope his expectations will be proven categorically wrong.
Trudy Rubin is a columnist and editorial-board member for the The Philadelphia Inquirer. This was distributed by Tribune Content Agency.