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That is true especially in foreign policy. Less knowledge and fewer connections with specialists than he had in economic matters led to decreased self-confidence in choosing courses and subordinates. As the establishment fought him, it seemed to have convinced him that he had to submit to its representatives. During the first year Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and, less obviously, Secretary of Defense James Mattis hardly objected to characterisations of themselves as the adults who were minding an irresponsible teenager. What has ensued is the geometric resultant of disparately directed forces.

By inauguration day, about a thousand US troops, supporting Sunni Arab groups also backed by Turkey as well as Syrian Kurds, were poised for an assault on IS’s stronghold near Raqqa. Which of these should do the conquering? The establishment wanted to continue identifying with the Turkey-backed Arabs: “Turkey our Nato ally.” The military preferred the Kurds; they fought much better. Trump agreed with the military, and despised Turkey’s Erdogan.  By April, he had split the difference: the Kurds would get to kill IS, which they proceeded largely to accomplish by summer. But thereafter, he would defer to Turkey’s priorities. In August, he posed no barrier to Turkish tanks entering Manbij, which the Kurds had died to liberate, and in June 2018 agreed to have the Kurds removed east of the Euphrates. Other than Israel, the Kurds had been America’s only real ally in the Middle East. But Trump also posed no objection to the Iraqi government’s ouster of Kurdish forces from Kirkuk and to its seizure of control over Kurdistan’s borders.

With the Kurds disempowered and IS near death, who or what would stop Iran from linking up with Hezbollah in Lebanon and making war on Israel? The State Department seems to believe that Turkey might help. Trump seems to disagree. Conceivably, Russia might be amenable to some deal by which it would restrain Iran. But “the resistance” had disempowered Trump from any sort of serious relations with Russia.

Will America withdraw from the Middle East? The short answer is that some US troops are to stay in Syria indefinitely — able, perhaps, to protect themselves. The Senate’s new Authorisation for Use of Military Force (AUMF) authorises war against several Sunni groups, but  makes no mention of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hezbollah, or any other Shia outfit. Hence it is an open-ended ratification of the past seventeen years’ war.

In May, the Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain), meeting in Saudi Arabia, set about isolating Qatar, demanding that it cut ties with Iran, stop funding IS as well as various groups at war with the Council’s members, and shut down Al Jazeera, whose Arabic service has been accused of inciting terrorism. President Trump, visiting Saudi Arabia, cheered this. And why not? Previously tepid allies were warming to the common fight. But immediately, the US State Department stepped into the quarrel, ostensibly to mediate it. Soon it became obvious that, the president notwithstanding, the US government was taking Qatar’s side. Simply, the balance of interests within the US establishment was overwhelmingly there. The armed forces, keen not to upset operations at Doha’s Al Udeid air base, cared little for anything else.

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An Gíogóir
August 29th, 2018
9:08 AM
I'm not sure what this article is trying to say. Should Trump go with the foreign policy establishment view or not?

Lawrence James
July 2nd, 2018
9:07 AM
Americans have always desired 'to live peacefully' with their neighbours. If this urge ever existed, why did it express itself in the invasion of Mexico and the subsequent annexations. Was the war against Spain in 1898 another manifestation of this same wish for harmony with its neighbours ? And there were the wars against the native Americans and, more pertinently, the little wars waged by General Smedley Butler in various parts of the Caribbean between the wars. Aggression which he rightly denounced as undertaken in the interests of the big corporations.The Cold War and its aftermath have seen a cluster of similar coercive wars. Such selective omissions suggest that this just another Trump propaganda excercise. Fair enough but next time find someone with some knowledge of history.

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