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The foreign policy of the united states in the middle east

The American military machine was stuck into two major overseas quagmires, Afghanistan and Iraq. During his two mandates, the 44th president of the United States concentrated his efforts on restructuring and reviving the American economy and social fabric, while disentangling as much as possible the US from military commitments in the Middle East.

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Eight years on, Obama and his staff leave behind them a stronger and more orderly United States. As the president himself recognizes, however, the next administration will face the difficult task of building upon that legacy Obama, 2016. Dealing with the many crises that tragically still torment the Middle East is likely to be a defining challenge for the incoming Trump administration as well Nasr, 2016.

After all, the region has been a longstanding major source of concern for American leaders due to its eternal religious and cultural relevance, a strategically pivotal location, huge oil reserves, interlocked and intractable conflicts, and the persistence of major security threats such as terrorism and the risk of nuclear proliferation.

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The xenophobic tone of many of his campaign statements and his praise for the ruling style of past and present authoritarian leaders have dismayed and alarmed a great many commentators — even within the conservative camp Coleburn, 2016; Kagan, 2016. In fact, despite being the Republican frontrunner, Trump has often defied the orthodoxy of his own party, both in the field of economic policy and in the realm of foreign policy. Such an approach may have embarrassed a great many leading Republican policy-makers, but it served him very well in the Republican primaries, and eventually turned out to be a winning strategy in the actual presidential race, although in terms of popular vote he was strongly outperformed by Hillary Clinton Wasserman, 2016.

In the domain of foreign policy, Trump has fiercely defied the internationalist consensus that has characterized American foreign policy since the Second World War Wright, 2016. Jackson famously challenged the elitist trend that characterized the early workings of the American political system — and such an approach ensured him the presidency from 1829 to 1837 Inskeep, 2016.

His success, however came along with a controversial propensity for intolerance and recklessness. As famously observed by Walter Russell Mead 2002: However, when foreigners threaten the US, the nation must respond with devastating force. Syria And Islamic State: Trump repeatedly expressed contempt for longstanding Arab partners of the US such as Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, on the ground that Washington gives them protection without getting enough in return Meet the Press, 2015; The New York Times, 2016a.

During the campaign, however, Trump showed a radically different attitude toward Israel.

  1. Such an approach, however, would by no means ensure that Iran does not get a nuclear bomb. During the campaign, however, Trump showed a radically different attitude toward Israel.
  2. Trump and his top advisers, however, seem to share a defined, quintessentially Jacksonian worldview. More recently, it added fighting terrorism.
  3. Yet the deal seems to serve quite well the economic interests of both the US and its major Western allies Aleem, 2016; Motevalli and Soper, 2016. Iran has been for decades the nemesis of the US in the region.
  4. The Gulf War won the U.
  5. At a time when Israeli soldiers are regarded by many Arabs as agents of an oppressive army of occupation, unconditional U. More recently, it added fighting terrorism.

In fact, as far as the Middle East is concerned, military power appears to be a central concern for the new president. Although he has constantly refused to outline a detailed and articulated policy approach toward Middle Eastern trouble spots such as Syria, during the campaign he stated that under his leadership US military interventions would be muscular and would likely not be restrained.

He also added that he would then seize the oilfields controlled by IS in the region and enlist American oil companies to manage them Engel, 2015; The New York Times, 2016a. This quintessentially realist rhetoric suggests that he would be ready to reach out even to dictator Bashar al-Assad in the quest for a settlement in the Syrian civil war The New York Times, 2016a; Wintour, 2016.

  1. This quintessentially realist rhetoric suggests that he would be ready to reach out even to dictator Bashar al-Assad in the quest for a settlement in the Syrian civil war The New York Times, 2016a; Wintour, 2016.
  2. In fact, as far as the Middle East is concerned, military power appears to be a central concern for the new president.
  3. Since it is very hard indeed to imagine any responsible leader engaging in a full scale, Iraq War-style effort to bring about regime change in Iran, the only feasible military options available would be the threat of, or resort to, occasional US or Israeli military strikes against suspected Iranian nuclear military installations Pollack, 2013. These Arab allies argue that American principles like human rights and freedom of the press are not promoted in Israel in the same way that Americans push for reform elsewhere.
  4. As it was the case prior to the deal, preserving international consensus around an effective sanctions regime would be an extremely difficult and probably short-lived effort Lorber, 2016. But little support materialized when the uprising actually got under way, and Iraqi retaliation against both rebelling groups was harsh.

Other aspects that characterize the attitude of Trump and his staff toward the Middle East, however, point in the direction of a much more expansive and ideology-driven policy approach.

Trump himself seems to share enthusiastically such an outlook. In a major break from the orthodoxy of the Republican party, Trump has often declared his admiration for Putin, and has made clear that he will seek greater cooperation with the Kremlin on a broad range of security issues, especially Middle Eastern policy Bradner, 2015; Labott, 2016; Shapiro, 2016: As a matter of fact, it should be noted that the apparently unconventional and often incendiary rhetoric adopted by Trump and his advisers reflects a worldview that has been advocated for a long time by a number of conservative ideologues and policy-makers.

Even the idea of cooperating with foreign strongmen, in spite of their poor human rights record, for the sake of winning a greater existential conflict is not that new to conservative foreign policy thinking Flynn and Ledeen, 2016: What does seem clear, however, is that such a civilizational struggle would require a massive and open-ended effort.

Iran has been for decades the nemesis of the US in the region. Relations between the two countries, however, have become less confrontational since the July 2015 nuclear deal. In a somewhat rare display of consistency with longstanding Republican orthodoxy, Trump harshly criticized the deal and argued it was negotiated poorly Baker, 2015; Republican Platform 2016, Smilowitz, 2016. He sees the Tehran regime as the harshest and most irreconcilable competitor of the The foreign policy of the united states in the middle east in the Middle East, as well as an existential threat to Israel, and has repeatedly made the case for a much more confrontational stance toward Iran Flynn and Ledeen, 2016: However, he too seems rather wary of Iran, and supports an assertive attitude toward the Tehran regime De Luce and Mcleary, 2016; Stewart, 2016.

Yet the deal seems to serve quite well the economic interests of both the US and its major Western allies Aleem, 2016; Motevalli and Soper, 2016.

Scrapping the deal would remove these checks and incentives. As it was the case prior to the deal, preserving international consensus around an effective sanctions regime would be an extremely difficult and probably short-lived effort Lorber, 2016. Since it is very hard indeed to imagine any responsible leader engaging in a full scale, Iraq War-style effort to bring about regime change in Iran, the only feasible military options available would be the threat of, or resort to, occasional US or Israeli military strikes against suspected Iranian nuclear military installations Pollack, 2013: Such an approach, however, would by no means ensure that Iran does not get a nuclear bomb.

In fact, it would likely encourage the Tehran regime to pursue a clandestine and highly protected military nuclear program, and that in turn would significantly raise the risk of another major military crisis in an area that is already riven by multiple and interlocking conflicts Weaver, 2016. As a result, what we are left with as inauguration day approaches is great uncertainty, particularly as far as foreign policy is concerned. Trump may turn out to be a pragmatist.

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Others — including your writer — may think that in fact continuity with the cautious, realist, and pragmatic approach adopted by Obama would serve very well both the US and the rest of the world. However, the foreign policy of the Trump administration may also turn out to be much more adventurist and much less pragmatic.

The foreign policy of the united states in the middle east Middle East has been for decades a magnet for American troops, and military interventions devised by strategists in Washington and intended to be short and decisive have consistently ended up in costly and bloody quagmires. Conclusions Donald Trump has proved to be a very good observer and a shrewd interpreter of the popular mood.

He also seems prepared to change his tune for the sake of personal and political accomplishment. He has backed off from some of his most controversial campaign statements and disavowed of some of his most vocal but extremist supporters. Such an approach served him very well during the 2016 presidential race, and it is reasonable to expect Trump to stick to it as he prepares to run for a second mandate in four years.

Trump and his top advisers, however, seem to share a defined, quintessentially Jacksonian worldview. They also seem to share a strong, staunchly assertive outlook concerning the Middle East, and they appear confident that they can do much better than their predecessors in the region — as well as in the rest of the world. As they take office, the new president and his national security staff should remember the key lessons learned in the Middle East by their predecessors.

First, power — no matter how great or apparently unchallenged — always has limits. Second, unilateral actions always produce multilateral, unexpected, and often unwanted consequences. After all, as German general Von Moltke the Elder famously argued, no plan survives the first contact with the enemy Stevenson, 2005: