BLOG 358 July 24, 2017
In late June, the Washington Post ran a story claiming the State Department was distancing itself from President Donald Trump and creating an alternative US foreign policy. Post reporter Josh Rogin said the State Department would not respond to whatever Trump says about foreign policy and would continue on their own path while pretending they don’t contradict the President. The Post article raised the question of who is really in charge. The elected president is supposed to come into office with a Middle East foreign policy. Apparently, President Trump has no clear, consistent position and the State department is filling the vacuum.
What does this mean for the Middle East?
Erick Mandel, director of the Middle East Political and Information Network, writes this is a recipe for a potential disaster that can undermine the interest and trust of American allies and Israel in particular.
An example of the problem is the executive’s branch contradictory and confusing assertions about northern Iraq and an upcoming vote for Kurdish independence. The Iraqi Kurds have been true friends of America while the Shi’ite Iraq central government is actually controlled by Iran. During the presidential campaign the Trump party said it would not stand in the way of the Kurds. Now the State Department is saying that it has more urgent priorities in defeating ISIS. Today they are saying they support a unified, federal democratic Iraq. That statement shuts the door on the Kurds.
So, who is running the show?
At this point, serious questions remain about whether Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the State Department or President Trump is in charge. As has been true of so many other matters with the White House, clarity is lacking.
There are those who suggest that the most clear-headed diplomat in the house is Ambassador Nikki Haley. Recently at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, Ambassador Haley said, “Leadership is not about power. Leadership is the acknowledgement and value of human dignity. We must always choose a side.” The problem the Washington Post reports is an on-going confusion about where the nation officially stands.
The time is overdue for American to have a unified foreign policy, not only for the United States, but for the world. America policy must be clear on which side it stands. When the most powerful nation on the globe is wobbling, the world will end up shaking.
BLOG 354 June 26, 2017
A number of issues bear a second look… like the situation in Iran.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, co-author of the nuclear armaments deal with the West was re-elected. He garnered 57% of the vote so no runoff was needed. This is highly significant since the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Revolutionary guard supported his opponent. The public and particularly young people stand behind Rouhani and strongly support the nuclear agreement that halted Iran’s race for a nuclear option.
Rouhani’s success at the poles boosters the staying power of the nuclear agreement. Such results offer hope for the future.
At the same time, President Trump signed an arms deal with Saudi Arabia to sell the Saudis $380 billion dollars of what Trump called, “beautiful military equipment.” The deal was described in the news as an effort to “counter Iran.” The Saudis want anti-ballistic missiles and a new radar system (THAAD, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense). This system will defend against Iran’s missile program. In addition, the Saudis want Lockheed Martin F-35 jets, selling at $100 million apiece. The objective is to provide Saudi Arabia with the strongest military in the region which will outpace Iran’s military and make the Saudis the strongest force in opposition to the Iranians.
From Trump’s point-of-view, the deal brings massive cash infusion into the US defense industry and is getting tough with Iran.
Does this represent an American policy? A critical look at Trump’s campaign rhetoric and subsequent actions raises the question, “what foreign policy?”.
Immediately after America’s November election, Israeli officials were saying that the era of a Palestinian state was over. Eight months later seems like a lifetime ago today. What has happened to countless politicians in the past is now being repeated. The campaign trail to the White House turns out to be filled with hot air exposed in the day light. The plans to move the embassy to Jerusalem have disappeared. No matter what anyone says, Prime Minister Netanyahu is not actually interested in peace talks as he keeps building new settlements on the Palestinian side of the line.
The Israeli public has swung back and forth in a manic-depressive mode from being highly optimistic to dropping into disappointment. The Trump administration will attempt to pressure both Abbas and Netanyahu to get back to the negotiating table for peace. They will respond in some way to appease the Americans, but the fundamental problems haven’t changed and won’t because of American pressure. Jews and Arabs have been at war with each other for thousands of years. More hot air from Washington won’t change the problem.
DO YOU HAVE A COPY OF THE NEW REVISED EDITION OF:
WHEN THERE IS NO MIRACLE?
Robert Wise’s classic will help you during difficult times.