“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“Further, I would anticipate spikes in the global price of oil for the foreseeable future (by the way, this undoubtedly would make Moscow happy, since Russia depends on higher-than-average oil prices to sustain its economy and military modernization program). Should these increases continue for the foreseeable future—and if Iran continued both with its illicit nuclear weapons program and regional expansion—the United States will be forced to intervene military.”
“Again, I urge America’s leaders to repeal the Leahy Laws and fully embrace a more restrained, realistic foreign policy that empowers our local friends and allows our forces time to rest and recuperate after 18 years of endless—almost winless—warfare. After all, no matter how ugly they may be, it is always proper to dance with the ones who brought you to the party.”
“Should the United States fully adhere to the Leahy Law and only support democratic regimes, it would find itself losing out in the grand, geopolitical game. Or worse, it might end up supporting the very same regimes that it must protect itself from (as former President Obama briefly did when he supported the Muslim Brotherhood’s takeover of Egypt during the Arab Spring).”
“In all, the president has done what very few American leaders before him have been able to do: he has weighed the costs and benefits of the deal and determined that, whatever consequences may befall the world in the short term, the longer-term prospects are almost all in America’s favor. What happens next will be difficult, but ultimately, the difficult choice will have proven to be the correct one.”
“In that case, Americans officials like Mr Bolton and Secretary Pompeo may welcome a confrontation with the Ayatollahs in Tehran that takes place before Iranians were able to acquire nuclear weapons.”
“The United States will never enjoy being the regional hegemon again in the Middle East. Even so, it need not abandon completely its position there. Instead, the United States must empower fully its regional allies—Israel especially—and continue putting pressure on Russia to restrain its Iranian proxy. Thus, a favorable balance of power can be created between two external powers (the United States and Russia) and their regional proxies. This is the only way one can create stability in the unstable Middle East today.”
“For the United States, it needs to not only temper its expectations (and therefore slow down the tempo of its intervention in the region generally, but specifically in Syria), and start focusing on larger geopolitical concerns. Obviously, the United States cannot (and should not) simply abandon the region, as many on the Far Right insist. But, we must be willing to give greater levels of support–and responsibility–to our local allies. That is our only hope for not breaking the American military in the quicksand of Mideast politics (which we presently are in danger of doing).”