Reverting America's Middle East policy

America’s best days were over was Obama’s theme during his presidency; thus, it requires the leadership to manage its decline. During the 2016 election campaign, Trump talked about making America great again.

Dr. Aviel Sheyin-Stevens,

OpEds Aviel Sheyin -Stevens
Aviel Sheyin -Stevens
Credit: INN:AS

In March 2018, President Donald Trump fired his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. This was consistent with reverting America’s Middle East policy.

Before his inauguration as the president of the United States, Barack Obama in January 2009 told a crowd of cheering supporters: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” Pragmatic politicians address problems and attempt to fix them; they do not aspire to “fundamentally transform” an entire nation. Transforming nations is what radicals aspire to do. Obama’s actions during the eight years of his presidency were radical; his “fundamental transformation” did not end at America’s shores. He reoriented America’s Middle East policy in favor of the ayatollahs, to make Iran the regional superpower, disfavoring America’s traditional allies: Israel, Egypt and the Sunni Arab monarchies.

Obama and his then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton took credit for Muammar Qaddafi’s demise. She was triumphant in self-satisfaction as she spoke on camera: “We came, we saw, he died.” Their misadventure in Libya included the Benghazi fiasco, when radical Islamic terrorists besieged the U.S. diplomatic compound for hours while Obama and Hillary watched on live feed but did nothing till the terrorists executed the American ambassador and three others. Libya became a failed state under the Obama administration’s watch, with ISIS taking over swathes of its territory and controlling Libyan ports from where the flood of refugees that are landing on the shores of Italy have been launched, threatening to destabilize Italy and other European countries.

Obama alienated America’s friends and emboldened its enemies. He surrendered Iraq, in whose cause many young Americans died, to America’s enemy, Iran. He claimed that “al-Qaeda is on the run” when it was rampant; he mishandled Libya and Syria; urged Mubarak to go, which got him replaced by the Muslim Brothers that persecuted Christians and threatened Israel but were fortunately removed by the Egyptian military, contrary to Obama’s policy; dismissed Islamic State as a “JV” [Junior Varsity] team; and claimed Yemen as a counterterrorism success story, though Saudi Arabia and Iran got pitted against one another in a war involving the Saudi-backed Sunni Yemeni central government, with a Saudi-led international coalition, and the Iranian-backed Shia Houthi rebels, with Hezbollah and various Iranian operatives. 

Obama initiated a Middle East nuclear arms race. Saudi Arabia will acquire a nuclear bomb if arch-rival Iran developed one. In a CBS interview in March 2018, Muhammad bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, stated that ‘without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.’ The Obama administration’s actions and inactions in the Middle East were not about stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons, but stopping Israel from stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons. The Obama administration’s protracted and repeatedly extended
The Obama administration’s leakage of Israel’s secret agreement with Azerbaijan, allowing Israeli warplanes to refuel during any attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, sabotaged Israeli attempt to destroy Iranian facilities.
negotiations with Iran allowed Iran time to multiply, bury, and reinforce its nuclear facilities, to the point where it was uncertain whether Israel had the military capacity to destroy those facilities.

The Obama administration’s leakage of Israel’s secret agreement with Azerbaijan, allowing Israeli warplanes to refuel during any attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, sabotaged Israeli attempt to destroy Iranian facilities.

Iran is the greatest state sponsor of terrorism. Obama’s sympathies lie with the ayatollahs. He used the cover of multilateralism and moral equivalence consistently to communicate American weakness: “No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons.” Obama orchestrated the Treaty of Catastrophe, the nuclear agreement Iran signed with the five members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus the European Union and Germany. When the agreement ends in its 10th year, Iran will be positioned to develop nuclear weapons immediately.

The details of the agreement are debatable, and mostly irrelevant, when compared to the two irrefutable aspects: It guarantees that Iran will develop nuclear weapons and the ayatollahs would get $150 billion. Iran’s dictator, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is the only person who got a say in how the $150 billion would be spent. In various rants after the agreement was signed, Khamenei repeatedly threatened America and Israel and called for their destruction.

Tillerson sided with Obama on the Iran nuclear deal. Trump thinks it is bad for America, Israel and the Middle East, and should be terminated.

America’s best days were over was Obama’s theme during his presidency; thus, it requires the leadership to manage its decline. During the 2016 election campaign, Trump talked about making America great again, and reviving its manufacturing sector. Obama made fun of him by saying, “What’s he going to do, wave a magic wand? Those jobs are gone! They are not coming back.” Now, the jobs are roaring back. In less than a year and a half, Trump has more than made up for the stagnation and the decline that was the American economy for the entirety of the Obama presidency.

In the same manner, Obama talked America down on the global stage. He launched his radical foreign policy initiatives in June 2009. Speaking in Cairo, he offered the Muslim world “a new beginning.” By this, he meant not a Muslim new beginning but an American change of heart, in the Middle East and beyond. Trump would like to strengthen America at home and abroad, including reverting its Middle East policy. Tillerson was in accord with Obama’s view.

For over a decade, Rex Tillerson was the chairman and chief executive officer of ExxonMobil, till he left to join the Trump administration. The mainstream media stated that as the CEO of ExxonMobil, he had business interests around the world, because ExxonMobil is pumping oil and “causing” climate change all over the world, and he has a close relationship with these countries and their dictators, presidents, rulers, etc. During the transition, when Trump selected Tillerson to become the secretary of state, the media stated that Trump picked him as a payback to Russia for Russia helping Trump win the presidency. The Washington Post reported that Vladimir Putin gave Tillerson the Russian Order of Friendship after signing deals with the Russian state-owned oil company, whose leader was reportedly Putin’s loyal assistant. Going by the media’s warped logic, Trump’s firing of Tillerson would be an affront against Russia following a payback to Russia.

Trump, against all odds, won the presidential election of 2016. Since then, the media have been pushing a conspiracy theory about Trump colluding with the Russians. Democrats deployed “Russian Collusion” against Trump to hide Hillary’s collusion and corruption. The only collusion with Russians was done by Hillary Clinton.

A Hillary Clinton-funded anti-Trump dossier, prepared by a British subject not registered as an agent in America, drawing on unsubstantiated Russian gossip about Trump, was touted by the FBI, got the rubber stamp from the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and used to monitor Trump campaign staffers, to find dirt on Trump and to leak such information to the press, in the last days of an American presidential campaign. It involved fraud by the highest law enforcement organization in America at a U.S. court to secure an illegal warrant to spy on Trump, an American citizen and presidential candidate, on behalf of his political opponent in the presidential race, Hillary Clinton.

The world's most inevitable president-in-waiting lost the election, and the Democrats decided to blame it on “Russian Collusion,” rather than blaming it on their criminally-challenged, ill, tired, unlikeable  candidate with no message, and a minimal campaign schedule.

The Russians did not force Hillary to ignore Wisconsin and campaign only once in Michigan. While Hillary connected with despotic dictators, Hollywood stars and Wall Street bankers, Trump connected, in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and elsewhere, with those Hillary called “deplorables.”

There were other major points of differences between Trump and Tillerson. In the 2018 State of the Union address, Trump struck a dire note of warning about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. He had earlier vowed to rain down “fire and fury” on North Korea if it posed a threat to America. Tillerson strained to push the appeasement position of many in the foreign affairs and national security establishment. Tillerson said nothing was going to happen on North Korea. He was not told that Trump had made a deal to accept the invitation for a meeting from Kim Jong-un. 

After Tillerson became secretary of state, he took positions that were indeed sympathetic to Putin. Russian oil-money interests with ties to the Kremlin, could have funded the efforts of many American environmental groups to retard the U.S. fracking industry, to limit America’s oil production; favoring Russia and other oil producers. In a report released in March 2018, congressional investigators stated that: “Republicans and Democrats agree the Kremlin is manipulating environmental groups in an attempt to carry out their agenda.” 

Before Tillerson became the secretary of state, his climate change position seemed to be that of a CEO saying what he had to say to keep a vocal minority of ExxonMobil customers mollified. When he joined the Trump administration, it became apparent that Tillerson is a true believer in “climate change.” Trump is not a believer in “climate change.” In June 2017, Trump announced that America will withdraw from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, stating that “The Paris accord will undermine (American) economy,” and “puts (America) at a permanent disadvantage.”

He had promised during his campaign to withdraw from the agreement, saying a withdrawal would help American businesses and workers. Although China’s carbon dioxide emissions in 2015 were more than double those of America, the agreement imposed draconian emissions target on America compared with China. Emission targets for each nation were separately negotiated. Obama negotiated drastic targets for America, and committed America to contributing $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund. Tillerson wanted America to remain committed to the agreement.

During the 2016 American presidential election, Trump pledged to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which he described as the “eternal capital of the Jewish people.” A 1995 Act of Congress recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and required the president to move the embassy to Jerusalem, but previous presidents have invoked waivers permitted under the law. The embassy move will be completed by the end of 2019. Tillerson was committed to the status quo. Trump should have a secretary of state that is committed to the relocation. Tillerson is not a Trump person.

Tillerson, as a former chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, was used to telling everybody else what to do; both inside the company and outside. He believed that foreign policy was essentially his. When he started implementing his version of American foreign policy that was in direct opposition to Trump’s policy, Trump had to fire him. Tillerson thought the State Department was his fiefdom, as it was for his two predecessors. Obama put them there and let them run the department as they wanted, knowing that he had essentially put himself in there. In replacing Tillerson, Trump is now putting in the State Department someone in whom he believes and who understands him: Mike Pompeo. 

Pompeo finished top of his class at West Point. He is an unashamedly right wing conservative from Kansas, and he is staunchly pro-Israel. He is a former member of Congress, and has already been confirmed as the CIA director. Trump has also named the first woman to head the CIA: Gina Haspel. She has been the deputy director of the CIA, in charge of the day-to-day operations. She would like to see Trump’s agenda implemented. 

After Trump’s election, a lot of his staffing decisions puzzled many people. At the beginning of his administration, Trump attempted to mollify some of his numerous opponents by choosing cabinet members that might not have been his first choice. Newly elected Republicans generally make the mistake of thinking they can buy peace with the Democrats, and the opposition media. He has been in office now for over a year, he has known people and seen them in action. Now, he is staffing his administration with people that he knows agree with him on what he wants to get done.

In Washington, only a tiny percentage of the establishment, or people that work in government with significant experience, like Trump. He has been learning much about leftists and liberalism, because he is becoming more conservative instinctively. He has to become more conservative as he goes along, and put the right kind of people in positions, in order to have his agenda implemented and maintained.

Obama appeased the ayatollahs and favored Iran becoming the regional superpower in the Middle East. Nevertheless, Iran kept on seeking the destruction of America and Israel. After signing the nuclear agreement, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran’s goal best: “Death to America,” and “Wipe Israel off the map.”

America’s Middle East policy is reverting to its pre-Obama position; favoring Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni Arab monarchies. Firing Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State is a good move in that direction.

Dr. Sheyin-Stevens is a Registered Patent Attorney based in Florida, USA. He earned his Doctorate in Law from the University of Miami.




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