Topic:

Donald Trump

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.

The Meeting Between President Trump and President Xi Jinping

| May 10, 2017

On April 6, 2017, the two most powerful men in the world, US president Donald Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping, met at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. Their meeting went on for two days. Their conversations dealt with political, security, and financial matters. Even before the meeting took place, both parties demonstrated good will. The Chinese forgave what they taken to calling “Mr. Trump’s provocations”, while Mr. Trump invited Mr. Xi and his wife to his home in an act of good faith that paved the way for a positive visit. Both sides attempted to ease tensions and create a basis for healthy relations.

Keeping All Cards Close to the Vest

The US’s decision to strike Syria and the results of the referendum in Turkey will have a significant impact on Israel. It will not be easy to navigate between these conflicting forces and Middle East realities, but Israel must guard its interests.

The Korean Peninsula Is Waiting for Trump

| April 19, 2017

The North Korean nuclear and missile crisis is posing a challenge to the new US administration, especially in the wake of the recent American missile strike in Syria. President Trump will need to consider not only the current North Korean crisis and the immediate military or diplomatic options available for confronting it, but also his long-term goals in the region. Diplomatic, economic, and military options will all have consequences.