One year into his Presidency, Trump has dramatically reversed Obama’s policies in the Middle East. From appeasement of radical Islam based on wishful thinking to the realistic support of allies
Much of the international community praised President Obama for reaching an Orwellian agreement with the genocidal Iranian regime at the expense of US allies like Israel. By contrast, President Trump has been widely condemned for bringing reality to the Middle East by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and putting the Iranian regime on notice.
While few would accuse President Trump of political correctness or eloquence, his presidency has the potential of bringing an outsider determination to carry out foreign policies based on unpopular but necessary out of the box thinking that match reality.
Barack Obama was driven by a calculated ideology that perceives the Muslim world as the eternal hapless “victims” of America and the West. While the Bush-led War on Terror made a distinction between “moderate” and “radical” Islam, Obama had the Orwellian audacity to claim that Islamist-generated terrorism was unrelated to Islam, which he praised as the “religion of peace”. If Bush wanted the Muslim world to join the West and modernity, Obama’s presidency kept apologizing to the Muslim world for the West’s real and imaginary transgressions.
By contrast, President Trump does not seem to belong to any ideological camp. This angers many Western pseudo-liberals and quite a few conservatives. However, the Middle East needs a US President that sees this troubled, complicated and volatile region through a non-ideological lens that challenges established and deeply ingrained myths that block peace and progress.
In his Cairo speech in 2009, Obama outlined his vision of future relations between America and the Islamic world. It was characterized by a flawed asymmetry: the Islamic world was incapable of doing anything bad and “arrogant” America was incapable of doing anything good, unless it repented for its “crimes” by appeasing the Muslim world.
Unsurprisingly, Obama’s view of the Middle East placed Israel, the main ally of the US, as the main part of the problem rather than a part of the solution. Obama compared the terrorist organization PLO that seeks Israel’s destruction with the Black American Civil Rights Movement. The Cairo speech also whitewashed 3500 years of Jewish history in Israel by falsely presenting Israel as a product of the Holocaust instead of legitimate Jewish national rebirth. While Obama corrected himself in later speeches, in spirit and policy, he rarely deviated from his original speech in Egypt.
One year into his Presidency, Trump has dramatically reversed Obama’s policies in the Middle East. Israel is no longer seen as a “burden” but rather as a close and appreciated US ally that is part of the solution. Unlike Obama, Trump calls a spade a spade and recognizes that radical Islam drives most of global terrorism. Trump does not demand that the Muslim world joins the West but remains unapologetic about a US committed to its values. This dramatic change in the White House can already be felt throughout the Middle East.
The Islamic State predates Obama but his pro-Islamist appeasement policies that paved the way for the “Arab Spring”, facilitated its rapid rise to power over large parts of Iraq and Syria. Obama betrayed his own red lines in Syria and passively watched while the Syrian despot Assad gassed and massacred hundreds of thousands of Syrians. By contrast, President Trump ordered a missile attack on an Assad military base, following a new chemical attack on Syrian civilians. On Trump’s watch, ISIS has been largely reduced to rubble in Syria.
Obama obsessively attacked Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria while whitewashing PLO’s and the Islamist’s rejection of the Jewish state’s existence within any borders.
Obama’s grand strategy in the Middle East was to reach an agreement with the anti-American Islamic regime in Iran at the expense of the genuine ally Israel and the questionable ally Saudi Arabia.
President Trump has been a vocal critic of the controversial nuclear agreement with Iran and officially decertified it in October 2017. Under Obama’s watch, The Iranian ayatollah regime was permitted to ruthlessly crush its domestic opposition in 2009 and dramatically increase its imperial ambitions from Lebanon, Gaza and Syria to Iraq and Yemen through its proxies like Hezbollah, Hamas and the Houthis. Obama bankrolled Iranian global terrorism by filling the ayatollah regime’s coffers with billions of dollars.
Under Trump’s watch, the fundamentalist Iranian regime is under increased external and domestic pressures that puts its future viability in question.
At the end of his presidency in December 2016, President Obama joined the international legal pogrom by letting the UN Security Council pass an Orwellian anti-Israel resolution declaring that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria “have no legal validity”. While Bush had criticized Israeli construction beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines, he recognized the realities on the ground that the main Jewish communities would be part of Israel in any future peace agreement.
Under President Trump and the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, the US has rebuked the UN for its anti-Israel obsession and formally announced its exit from the history whitewashing and anti-Semitic UNESCO organization. One year after Obama’s final anti-Israel stab, President Trump finally broke with 70 years of shameful global anti-Israel bias by formally recognizing reality: Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. By stressing the Jewish people’s ancient and modern ties to its capital Jerusalem, Trump sent a strong message to the world: reborn Israel is here to stay and is a valued ally of the United States of America. It also sends another important message to Israel’s genocidal foes: no more free lunches and don’t test America’s resolve.
Daniel Kryger is a writer and a political analyst. He lives in Israel.
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