Viewpoint: Historian’s op-ed on foreign affairs needs a history lesson
Recently in this newspaper Mr. Mehrdad Kia, a history professor at UM, claims he is an equal observer of Democrats and Republicans on many foreign policy issues. But his hyper-attack on the Biden Administration's foreign policy is so unbalanced he comes across more as a right-wing partisan hack than a measured historian.
Mr. Kia slams President Biden for having undermined America's power and prestige worldwide. He cites Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Ukraine as examples of Biden's weakness. But far from being objective, he distorts, ignores or misconstrues reality.
His first attack on Biden regarding Afghanistan is blatantly false: that Biden began the withdrawal of US troops. It was actually President Trump who signed a deal with the Taliban only a few months before Biden took office and quickly reduced American troops from around 13,000 to only 2,500.
A measured historian would have also reminded us that the presidents after George Bush were frustrated over the annual multi-billion-dollar expense of propping up one of the world's most corrupt regimes. Sadly, the one they kept in power in Kabul.
Biden no more lost Afghanistan than Gerald Ford lost Vietnam.
Now Saudi Arabia. Mr. Kia blames Biden for undermining the 'century-old alliance' with Saudi Arabia by threatening to make the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, a pariah over Jamal Khashoggi's death. Khashoggi, you may remember, was a journalist lured into a Saudi embassy in Turkey, then murdered, cut into pieces, and whisked out in garbage bags.
And just what's so special about this 100 year alliance anyway? Human rights? Women's equality? Democracy? Actually the civilized world rightly shuddered when it saw Biden, on his recent trip to Saudi Arabia, fist-bump the Crown Prince.
Next is Iran. For Mr. Kia the Biden Administration ignores the struggles of the Iranian people but has done nothing about it. Just how would right-wing Republicans react if Biden reduced sanctions to help ordinary Iranians? And just what have those Khomeini-types in power done for their citizens other than publicly hang dissenters?
Under President Obama Iran signed a non-proliferation nuclear weapons agreement. Afterwards Iran was consistently deemed in compliance by European and American scientists. But Trump with Prime Minister Netanyahu's full blessings, unilaterally reneged on the agreement. Without an agreement Iran will continue developing nuclear weapons. Israel now faces a mortal threat. Thankfully negotiations between Iran and the United States have resumed under Biden's leadership.
Mr. Kia's final charge and to me, the most insulting, is his take on Ukraine; that Biden sent the 'wrong signal' to Putin. Wrong signal? Biden told a skeptical Ukraine that Russia was absolutely going to invade it. He stands firmly with NATO.
With little to no support from the far-right including our own congressman, Matt Rosendale, Biden has led the way for America to send billions worth of weapons to Ukraine and provide untold amounts of high-value intelligence. And finally it was a “Weak” and “Sleepy” Joe Biden who traveled to Kiev becoming the first president since Abraham Lincoln to enter an active war zone.
Former Budget Director, Executive Director of the Montana Board of Investments, and state legislator, Mr. Ewer holds a Master's degree from Harvard University's JFK School of Government.