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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Back on The Correct Side

During the Obama years, the USA switched sides in the ongoing battles in the Middle East.  For the fifty years prior to Obama entering the White House (and before), America had friends in that region who were moderates like Jordan, democracies like Israel or reasonable oil states like Kuwait.  We opposed the crazies like Saddam Hussein's Iraq, the religious terrorists like Hamas or the Moslem Brotherhood and the states seeking hegemony based upon religious intolerance like the Islamic Republic of Iran.  American policy was not always successful, nor was it always fully rational (in my view).  Sometimes we were torn between differing groups of allies.  Our allies, however, knew that they had our support and friendship.  George Bush changed that policy somewhat by encouraging democratization in the region in the hope that democracy would lead to regional peace.  Then came president Obama who flipped the whole policy on its head.  Obama abandoned old friends who had supported US policy aims in the region for decades.  Obama decided that America would be "open" to embrace regimes based upon religious intolerance even if they supported terrorism.  Those moves were repeated again and again in hopes that we could find friendship with Iran and the ayatollahs.  The Obama moves also saw the USA cheer as the Moslem Brotherhood (the MOSLEM BROTHERHOOD!!!) took control of the region's most populous country, Egypt.  Even when the Egyptians rose up and three out the Moslem Brotherhood, Obama had the USA oppose that move.

So what did it get us?  The Obamacrats will tell us quickly that we would not have had the nuclear agreement with Iran absent the change in policy.  For some reason, they think that is a good thing.  Iran went from a heavily sanctioned country on the verge of bankruptcy to one with plenty of cash and facing few sanctions.  Iran's nuclear program went from one that moved ahead towards a nuclear weapon to one that still moves ahead towards a nuclear weapon, just a bit more slowly.  Egypt turned away from the USA.  Russian troops were reintroduced into the region for the first time since the 1970s.  Our friends in Israel launched efforts to find friendships with Russia and China and India in the face of open hostility from Washington.  The Saudis and the other Sunni oil states grew wary of Washington and felt abandoned in their struggle against Iranian efforts to subvert them.  The Obama policy can only be described with one word:  FAILURE.

Since January, President Trump has been moving us back towards the traditional stance of the USA towards the region with his own gloss on the subject.  He outlined his view today in Riyadh.  He made clear that Iran is no longer to be treated by the USA as a "friend" since they have never been our friends.  He made clear that America does not wish to tell the region how to live, govern itself, or worship (no more Bush push towards democracy).  Trump did offer, however, a partnership for defeating Islamic terrorism.  The doctrine is indeed "partnership".  America won't do any of this alone.  We want and expect full cooperation and participation by all of the region's countries.

Some of the media pundits will tell us that this is just a rehash of things said by past presidents.  They're wrong.  What happened today, in its simplest form, is that President Trump told those heads of state assembled in Riyadh, "the USA is back on your side.  We are no longer wavering between you and the Iranians.  We expect your help, though."

That message is extremely important.  Think how a small nation like Kuwait felt knowing that it was just a few miles from Iran, Iran's huge and battle-tested army, and its soon-to-be access to nuclear warheads.  The Sunni Arabs know now that they have an ally so that they need not kowtow to Iran.  Hopefully, that alliance will mean enough to these nations so that they will crack down on the terrorists.  Only time will tell, but we do know at least one thing.  We are back on the correct side.  The days of appeasing Iranian moves are over.

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