Topic:

Donald Trump

Potable Water vs. Energy Resources: National Security Under Trump and Netanyahu

| July 16, 2017

Access to potable water is critical for Israel’s future, yet Israel depends more and more on desalination plants, aquifers, and water from outside its borders to provide this resource. These sources could be in jeopardy as Israel seeks to extract oil and natural gas off its coast and on land. There is a real possibility that President Donald Trump might seek access to Israel’s energy supplies at the cost of its water, an ominous prospect.

Defying Syrian Employment of Chemical Weapons: An Outstanding American Move

Thanks to concrete intelligence attained in real time, the US was able to warn Syria, publicly and decisively, about repeated employment of chemical weapons. This unusual development is meaningful on several levels, and mirrors the delicate geopolitical balance that exists in Syria and beyond.

What Trump Can Learn from Oliver Stone’s “Putin Interviews”

| July 6, 2017

The July 2015-February 2017 interviews with Vladimir Putin by US filmmaker Oliver Stone, now streaming on Showtime, provide surprising insights into the mind of the Russian leader. “We like President Trump,” Putin admits, recalling that during the election campaign Trump was open to a new relationship with Moscow. Further progress was stalled by Russo-gate. Trump should not buy Putin’s reasons for his Ukrainian and Syrian interventions, but would be wise to be open to renewing a limited partnership with Russia against Islamic terrorism and Pyongyang’s rogue regime.

From Osirak to Yongbyon

| June 26, 2017

North Korea is moving forward with its development of an ICBM that can carry a nuclear warhead. Will Pyongyang test it, challenging Washington to strike its nuclear reactor in Yongbyon? If Washington does strike, will Pyongyang choose to react passively as Syria did in 2007, or will it respond by starting a war with South Korean and American forces in the region? Although both sides use militant rhetoric, neither will choose to challenge the other. They will instead upgrade their deterrence capabilities.

The Emerging Trump Doctrine of Strategic Savvy

| June 17, 2017

“America will not lead from behind. America First does not mean America alone. It is a commitment to protecting and advancing our vital interests…” So wrote President Donald Trump’s NSA, General H.R. McMaster, with Gary Cohn, head of the National Economic Council, in the Wall Street Journal. What follows is a discussion of US leaders’ failed strategies in several wars, Trump’s team of generals, and the emerging Trump doctrine, which is here termed “strategic savvy”.

Trump Diplomacy: Settling North Korea “With Gas and With Bomb”?

| June 11, 2017

As North Korea continues its steadily expanding nuclearization, US President Donald Trump will have to prepare for extremely complex crisis diplomacy. Whether he decides upon a path of military preemption (what his lawyers would then call “anticipatory self-defense”) or waits for a first move by Pyongyang, Trump will need to (1) make difficult judgments regarding enemy rationality and capability; and (2) consider a prudent posture of “pretended irrationality” for the US. His core task will be to pursue “escalation dominance” without simultaneously exposing the US or its allies to grievous attack.

In the Aftermath of Trump’s Visit to the Middle East

| June 6, 2017

In his recent visit to the Middle East – his first visit abroad, and one fraught with symbolic messages – President Donald Trump achieved most of his goals. Never has a US president been received with so much tribute, praise, appreciation, and admiration by both Muslim and Jewish leaders. Heads of the most important states in the Arab world lauded his friendship, qualities, and strategic aims. There is no great surprise here. Trump completely reversed the attitude of Obama, which verged on hostility, towards both the pro-American Arab states and Israel. The Saudi royal reception for Trump was a particularly vivid response to Obama’s policy. The huge arms deal Trump signed with Saudi Arabia could challenge Israel’s national security. Trump failed to implement his election promise to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, primarily because it seemed to contradict his plan to engineer an “ultimate deal” between Israel and the Palestinians.

Trump’s Air Strike on al-Tanf: No to the Shiite Crescent

| June 1, 2017

The two recent US air strikes on a Syrian convoy heading to the al-Tanf military base in the southern Syrian Desert a few miles from the Jordanian-Syrian border have major strategic importance. The attack signaled for the first time since the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011 that the US would not countenance the reemergence of the Iranian-controlled Shiite crescent that Iran had created through Teheran, Baghdad, Damascus, and Beirut after the US exited Iraq in 2010.

Donald Trump: The View from Jerusalem

| May 30, 2017

Trump’s first 100 days have yet to provide a clear indication of US policy and how he believes he can achieve an Israel-Palestinian deal. The major changes during this period have occurred in areas mostly relevant to Israel: foreign policy and national security. It will take at least 100 more days to figure out how and where Trump wants to lead the US in the near future.

Strategic Consensus: DOA in 1981; Resurrected in 2017?

President Trump’s efforts to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table are taking place against the background of a broader effort to recast US policy in the region. The memory of Secretary of State Alexander Haig’s failed effort, back in 1981, to put together a regional “strategic consensus” against the Soviets may have faded, but the idea behind it is making a comeback. Facing the Iranian revolutionary regime and its proxies on the one hand and radical Sunni versions of Islamist totalitarianism on the other, key regional players are now more open than ever to an informal US-led alliance against their common enemies. The semblance, perhaps even the substance, of progress on the Israeli-Palestinian front can facilitate this; but even more important would be a firm policy on Iran.