Turkey’s return to a small strip of northern Syria is not historically new. And Turkey’s presence just might complicate Iranian ambitions for expanding beyond their territory into the Levant.
In my recent op-ed for The American Spectator, I argue that President Trump’s decision not to bomb Iran was the correct one and that the Washington foreign policy elite are wrong to undercut Trump on this issue while at the same time denying critical arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
As Iran extends its reach in the region, the United States and its allies push back against it. This has forced Iran to get bolder in their attacks against the U.S. and its allies. Oddly enough, there are quarters in the West that seek to accommodate Iran while abandoning Israel and Saudi Arabia. This will weaken the U.S. and empower Russia and China.
The key here is for President Trump to strike a strategic balance in the Middle East: the United States cannot ignore Iran’s threat to the region. Balancing with regional powers, like Israel and Saudi Arabia, against Iran in order to contain its threat is good. But, unilaterally (and unexpectedly) slapping all oil sanctions back on Iran in a push for greater levels of hostility, as the White House did recently, creates uncertainty and instability in world energy markets. The more instability that the United States creates in the world energy market through its aggressive actions against Iran, the more likely it is that Russia will benefit.
“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.”
“”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.”
“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.”
“Washington must stop trying to be the world’s moral dictatress; American leaders must understand that one of the most amazing aspects of the United States is its sense of justice and fairness. Yet, what makes the American sense of justice so amazing is that it is unique in the world.”
“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.”