Dr. Albert Ellis, one of the world’s top psychologists, suggests that the study of past track records is an essential undertaking for an effective assessment of the future: “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.”
This suggestion is also applicable to the assessment of policy formulation by the next US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, who will be the most influential foreign and national security policy-maker in President-elect Joe Biden's Administration.
Blinken's close ties with Biden, dating back to Biden's chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, make him, potentially, as influential as were Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Jim Baker during the presidency of Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush respectively.
Israel policy. Blinken opposes Israel's annexation of – and expanded Jewish presence in - any part of Judea and Samaria, as well as in Jerusalem beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines. He considers Israeli dramatic land concessions to be a prerequisite for peace. He supports the establishment of a Palestinian state in Gaza and the pre-1967 Jordan-occupied-Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem.
However, according to Blinken, "US aid to Israel is beyond debate and should never be used as leverage to influence Israel's policies toward Palestinians…. It's in the US interest that Israel has the means to secure itself…. Israel's security is challenged on a daily basis. Israel faces existential threats every single day."
Palestinian policy. Blinken assumes that a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and East Jerusalem would serve justice and would spare Israel a demographic calamity. He ignores the well-documented demographic reality, which exposes the myth of the Arab demographic timebomb. He approaches the Palestinian issue from the human rights angle, notwithstanding the Palestinian track record as a role model for anti-Jewish hate-education and incitement, 100-year-old anti-Jewish terrorism and intra-Arab terrorism and treachery.
Irrespective of Middle East reality, he believes in the centrality of the Palestinian issue on the Arab agenda and the pursuit of Israel-Arab peace.
Blinken aims to restore annual financial aid to the Palestinian Authority (which was suspended due to the PA's financial support of families of terrorists and the systematic heralding of terrorists), as well as the annual financial transfer to UNRWA (which was suspended due to its funding of the PA's hate education). Also, he will reopen the PLO office in Washington, DC.
Libya policy. Blinken believes that the introduction of human rights and democracy to the Arab World would constitute a most effective foundation of peaceful coexistence. In 2011, as the National Security Advisor to Vice President Biden, along with Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Advisor to Contrary to the well-intentioned Blinken worldview, in the real Middle East, the choice is between pro-Western – or anti-Western - non-democratic anti human rights regimes.
President Obama, he urged a US/NATO military offensive against Qadhafi, in order to stop "Qadhafi's human rights violations and slaughter of his own people." The war on the arch human rights violator, Qadhafi, evolved Libya into a major platform of arch human rights violating Islamic terrorists, which is still haunting Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Europe and Africa. The war on Qadhafi – and his eventual lynching by Islamic terrorists - ignored his transformation (since 2003!) from a ruthless supporter of terrorism into a ruthless warrior against Islamic terrorism in north, central and western Africa, who provided the US with invaluable intelligence on global terrorism, and transferred his nuclear infrastructure to the US.
Sadly, contrary to the well-intentioned Blinken worldview, in the real Middle East, the choice is between pro-Western – or anti-Western - non-democratic anti human rights regimes.
"Arab Spring" policy. The Libya policy was reflective of the worldview of key foreign policy and national security players – including Blinken – who formulated the US Middle East policy during the 2010/2011 volcanic eruption of violence, including terrorism, from Morocco in northwest Africa through Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula to Bahrain in the Persian Gulf.
Blinken assessed the brutal confrontations on the Arab Street - which has been an intrinsic feature of the Arab World since the 7th century – through the prism of human rights. He overlooked the complexity of these confrontations (among non-democratic, violent elements) and underestimated the dominant role of Islamic terrorism and inherent intra-Arab domestic and regional brutal power struggles.
Along with most of the Western foreign policy establishment, Blinken referred to this wave of violence, which still haunts the Arab Street, as the "Arab Spring," "youth revolution" and "march for democracy;" while, in fact, it has been a tectonic Arab Tsunami all along.
Saudi Arabia policy. A reassessment of US policy toward Saudi Arabia, and putting on notice Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman (whom he considers "impulsive and reckless"), are expected due to Blinken's focus on human rights, while underestimating the impact on the intensified anti-Western Shite and Muslim Brotherhood Sunni terrorism, which aim to topple all pro-US and relatively-moderate Arab regimes, establish a pan-Islamic state, and proliferate Islamic terrorism globally.
Blinken may precondition the sale of advanced weaponry to Saudi Arabia upon improved human rights (which would increase Chinese, Russian and European military sales to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf).
In addition, Blinken opposes the Saudi involvement in the civil war in Yemen, which has become a most active Iranian beachhead against Saudi Arabia aiming to topple the Saudi regime. He, also, objects to the Saudi aggressive policy toward Qatar, which is a strategic ally of Iran's Ayatollahs and Turkey's Erdogan and a chief financier of Muslim Brotherhood terrorists – three major threats to the House of Saud.
Egypt policy. In 2009, Blinken supported the human rights-centered US policy toward Egypt, courting the Muslim Brotherhood terroristic opposition, which led to its 2012-2013 rise to power, while toppling the pro-US President Mubarak (similar to President Carter's policy, which betrayed the Shah of Iran, providing a tailwind to the rise of Iran's Ayatollahs).
Blinken's pledge to renew US emphasis on human rights violations in Egypt was expressed via November 19 and 20, 2020 Tweets, protesting the arrest of three Egyptian human rights activists. However, Middle East reality suggests that, notwithstanding his honorable intentions, Blinken's only choice is between a pro-US and an anti-US non-democratic Egypt.
Iranpolicy. Driven by his globalist, multilateralist, joint leadership world view (contrary to unilateral US national security action), Blinken was closely involved in the formulation of the game-changing 2015 nuclear accord with Tehran.
Therefore, Blinken will reenter the accord, seeking a stronger and longer-lasting agreement, playing down Iranian human rights violations, lifting as many sanctions as possible, which will yield a robust tailwind to Iran's economy (as documented by the 2015 precedent), bolstering Iran's efforts to topple all pro-Western Arab regimes and expand its terror network in the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, South and Central America.
Will Antony Blinken learn from past errors by repeating – or avoiding them?
Will Blinken adjust his policy recommendations to Middle East reality, or is he determined to export "cancel-culture" to the Middle East, with the well-intentioned aim to introduce human rights, democracy and peaceful-coexistence into the ruthlessly entrenched Middle East culture?
Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of "Second Thought: a U.S.-Israel initiative." A writer, lecturer and consultant on US affairs, he is former Minister for Congressional Affairs and former Consul General in Houston, Texas.