Now that Donald Trump has been sworn in as president, America waits in anticipation for the first decisions of the new administration on international affairs. Particularly, many want to know to what extent the US will involve itself in the Middle East. In the past few months, Trump has appointed a number of notoriously conservative officials to high office positions. Notably, he appointed his son-in-law Jared Kushner as his senior adviser and “special envoy” to the Middle East despite minimal relevant experience. Oh, besides one thing. Kushner’s family has a large foundation which donates substantial sums of money to the Israeli settlement of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The CNN article takes a very wary approach to analyzing Trump’s stance and possible decisions, clearly struggling to appear unbiased (although it is quite clear throughout the entirety of the article that the view is leaning left). Despite this, the article gives a new twist on looking at Trump’s stance on international relations. Trump relies on assertiveness, such as when he says that he will “crush” ISIS and remove “radical Islamic terrorism” from the face of the earth, as well as isolationism, which is evident when he suggests giving Russia a free pass in Ukraine and Syria. This mix of conflicting positions is remarkably reminiscent of “American grand-strategy” pre-1941. By looking at Trump’s position on foreign affairs as a return to the policies of pre- Pearl Harbor America, there are numerous results that we can expect from his administration.
One expected result is that Trump will abandon Obama’s agendas on nation building and human rights. This will all be part of Trump’s greater goal of dismantling America’s role as the “world police power”, a reputation taken on by the country after World War Two. Another expected result is a halt of progress towards the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is a consequence of the assertive side of Trump’s strategy, as well as an effect of his conservative leadership. Kushner, Greenblatt, and Friedman have all given statements that are favorable towards settlement and hostile towards the two-state solution. The third expected result is also an effect of Trump’s assertive side: a possible partnership between him and Putin with the goal of sticking it to ISIS and “radical Islamic terrorism”.
Every one of the expected results listed above is at odds with the goals of the Guardians of Freedom. By returning to pre-WW2 strategy, the US will regress back to the state at which it was when it allowed countless monstrosities to occur during and before the World Wars. Our goal is towards progress and towards universal recognition of human rights for minority groups and oppressed peoples. There is positives to rolling back America’s “police power” bravado. However, the United States also has an obligation to its allies and to LDCs around the world. There is no way that we can turn a blind eye to these nations without undermining core American values. Further, the rejection of the two-state solution is completely in conflict with our mission because we condemn the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel, just as we reject any occupation of internationally recognized land by an oppressive power. Finally, Trump’s promised crusade with Putin against ISIS is not just in disagreement with our political beliefs and ideology. It takes one brief look at some credible research to perceive that Russia has been funneling weaponry and fighting power to ISIS for years. Trump praises Putin for his authoritarian rule and sneaky strategy against other nations, but refuses to entertain the possibility that he will pull a fast one on Trump himself.
So, who will Trump “trump” in the Middle East? As of now, it looks like America will be one of the net losers.