Inside Trump’s Middle East

Foreign Affairs lead package “Trump’s Middle East” looks inside the decisions that have moved the region to the brink of war. “These articles offer a clear window onto the Middle East’s stark new land­scape,” writes Gideon Rose, Editor of Foreign Affairs, in his introduction to the package. “Read them and weep.”

Disaster in the Desert
“Almost three years into his term, Trump has nothing to show for his efforts to counter Iran or promote peace in the Middle East. Instead, his policies have fueled the conflict between Iran and Israel, alienated the Palestinians, supported an unending war and a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and split the Gulf Cooperation Council, possibly permanently,” writes CFR Distinguished Fellow Martin Indyk, former U.S. ambassador to Israel and assistant U.S. secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs.

The Dream Palace of the Americans
“The Trump administration’s Middle East policies have been roundly attacked by the U.S. foreign policy establishment,” writes the Hudson Institute’s Michael S. Doran, who served in the National Security Council under President George W. Bush. “Why all the hue and cry? Because the administration openly insists on playing power politics rather than trying to move the world beyond them. Trump’s real crime is challenging people’s illusions.”

The Case for a One-State Solution
“The time has come for the Palestinian Authority to abandon its advocacy of a two-state solution, an idea that has become little more than a fig leaf for the United States and other great powers to hide behind while they allow Israel to proceed with de facto apartheid,” writes Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights. The only moral path forward, he argues, is “equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians in a single shared state.”

The Unwanted Wars
“The conditions for an all-out war in the Middle East are riper than at any time in recent memory,” writes the International Crisis Group’s Robert Malley, who served as White House Middle East coordinator in the Obama administration. “Because any development anywhere in the region can have ripple effects everywhere, narrowly containing a crisis is fast becoming an exercise in futility.”

The Middle East’s Lost Decades
“The Arab Spring may not have ushered in the immediate reforms that many had hoped for, but in the long run, it may have accomplished something more important: awakening the political energies of the Arab world and setting in motion the long process of Arab revitalization,” writes Maha Yahya, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center.

America’s Great Satan
“Faced with the real prospect of a war [with Iran] that would benefit no one, it is time for the United States to rethink some of the assumptions that have led to the current impasse. It is time to relegate Iran’s remarkable grip on U.S. strategic think­ing—call it ‘the Persian captivity’—to the dustbin,” write Daniel Benjamin, former U.S. State Department coordinator for counterterrorism, and Steven Simon, who served on the National Security Council in the Clinton and Obama administrations.

The Tunisia Model
“Tunisia has helped dispel the myth that Arab societies or Islam is not compatible with democ­racy. But the country’s story also offers lessons for beyond the Arab world: that transitions from authoritarianism require brave leaders willing to put country above politics and that such transitions are by nature chaotic and halting,” writes Sarah Yerkes, fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

 

Also in this issue:

A More Pragmatic Approach to Russia
CFR Distinguished Fellow Thomas Graham calls for a U.S. strategy of restrained competition and reasoned accommodation with Moscow rather than confrontation and isolation. Russia wants to be perceived as a great power and it makes sense to treat it as one.

What the Optimists Get Wrong About Conflict
Tanisha M. Fazal and Paul Poast contend that it is highly problematic to rely on body counts to determine if armed conflict has decreased. Contrary to conventional wisdom, they claim that war is not on the decline—it is simply less lethal than in prior eras.

The Nonintervention Delusion
Richard Fontaine asserts that calls for U.S. nonintervention are misguided. He instead proposes a set of guidelines for future interventions, urging policymakers to accept that military force will remain an essential tool of U.S. strategy.  

The Unwinnable Trade War
Weijian Shan argues that U.S. tariffs against China are missing their intended target. The Trump administration’s current approach puts the U.S. economy at risk, threatens the international trading system, and fails to reduce the U.S. trade deficit.

The Progressive Case Against Protectionism
Against rising anti-trade sentiment on both the right and the left, Kimberly Clausing contends that free trade and immigration are good for American workers. Globalization has left many of them behind, but open economic policies remain in their best interest

What Is Obama’s Foreign Policy Legacy?
In a review of three memoirs by high-level Obama administration foreign policy officials, Peter Beinart faults the authors for failing to acknowledge “the uncomfortable ways in which Trump’s disregard for human rights represents a continuation of—rather than a break from—the policies of the government in which they served.”

The Virtues of Monopoly
In a review of a new book on global capital markets, Felix Salmon explains how, when it comes to stock exchanges, a monopoly can be a good thing—especially for ordinary investors.

Foreign Affairs Brain Trust: Was the War in Afghanistan a Mistake?
We asked dozens of experts whether they agreed or disagreed that Washington should not have committed to a sustained, large-scale military presence in Afghanistan. See the responses.

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