Trump Needs to Make Deals, Not War

“Yes, dear neocons, history has returned. But your playbook is hardly helpful in these tough times. Acting tough (and ensuring that lesser well-connected American citizens pay the prices for your overreach) is not a solution to difficult problems. Trump must stop being cowed by the Russian investigation and act according to his instincts (make deals, not war). Great power politics is ruthless, but it is also surprisingly simple: those who want respect give respect.”

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No Going to War With Russia Over Ukraine

“Washington cannot lose its head on this matter. This isn’t Hitler marching into Poland in 1939. This is more akin to the Agadir Crisis in 1911. The Agadir Crisis was an outgrowth of German and French competition for greater influence in Morocco. The crisis was ultimately settled by slow negotiations which ratcheted down tensions. Of course, this event was one of those moments in history which set the proverbial stage for a far nastier event—the First World War—but the Agadir Crisis itself was small and ameliorated with shrewd diplomacy between the affected powers.”

The Multipolar World: Partnering with Russia to Stop Iran

“While it might harm Washington’s ego to treat Moscow as an equal partner in world affairs, the only way to mollify the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program – without a major war against Iran (and absent another silver bullet to use on Iran, like the Stuxnet cyber-attack) – is to grant Russia the respect Putin believes he and his country deserve. Thanks to the restrictive sanctions regime that President Trump has imposed on Russia, the United States has leverage. By dangling the prospect of a grand bargain between Moscow and Washington over key disagreements, the United States would likely be able to get Russia to work with it on ending the threat posed by Iran.”

Israel and the Sunni Arab States Cannot Resist Iran Alone

“Time is not on Trump’s side. Unfortunately, neither Israel nor the Sunni Arab states appear capable of hanging on for too long without international support.”

It Doesn’t Matter If Iran is a Rational Actor

“”With the loss of Saudi Arabia as a viable partner in blocking the spread of Iranian power, the Trump Administration would be forced to revisit the oft-repeated notion that Iran is a rational actor. President Trump would have to renege on his campaign promise of ending the terrible Obama era Iran deal. He would have to reverse course and effectively reinstitute the Obama deal with Iran, in order to gain new leverage over Tehran. In other words, Trump would have to surrender the Middle East to Iran, selling out Israel in the process, just as Barack Obama did.”

Turkey Benefits from the Khashoggi Disappearance

“Western media outlets must be suspicious of any information coming from Turkey about the Khashoggi disappearance. After all, Turkey (as well as Russia, Iran, and China) benefits from the sustained media campaign against Saudi Arabia (since it disconnects Riyadh from Washington). It also weakens the United States in the region.”

Make the Other Guy Die For His Country

“A balance of power paradigm that pits one group of foreign states mostly serving American interests against another, is the best way. Enough of over-committing U.S. forces to the field of battle at the outset of any potential conflict. Play all sides until the best deal can be reached.

The United States isn’t opposed to fighting. The country has been engaged in warfare of some kind for 222 out of its 239-year existence (that’s roughly 93 percent of American history). It’s not about being afraid to fight. The issue is when to fight and how (also, why, particularly in the case of the Middle East). 

American policymakers cannot formulate a cogent answer to those questions. At least, not until the wonderfully disruptive Age of Trump.”

Holding Turkey Accountable

“Turkey has made its intentions clear: it is not a Western ally. Ankara does not seek to be a Western partner. If the West continues treating Turkey as though it were simply a wayward child rather than a rival, the West will continue to be undermined and embarrassed from within.”

Potential Chinese Intervention in Syria is About Access to the Mediterranean Sea

“Syria’s proximity to Europe is also beneficial because the Chinese are seeking to not only tie together as much of Eurasia as possible through trade, but they want to do so in a way that a) undermines the influence of the United States and b) reduces the military threat the United States poses to Chinese interests.”