Christopher Dickey writes: The art of the deal is not especially useful when confronting fanatics inclined to behead or immolate anyone who fails to follow their rules. And Trump’s pronouncements during his campaign do not give him or us much insight into how he might construct an approach dramatically different from the faltering policies of the Obama administration.
The Daily Beast’s front line correspondent in the current offensive against ISIS in Mosul, Florian Neuhof, summed up the situation as he sees it:
“My hope is that many of Trump’s campaign statements are bluster designed to boost his strongman image,” writes Neuhof. “I don’t feel he in any way understands world politics, let alone the Middle East, and he has tried to appeal to uneducated, poor white voters who would fall for such nonsense tough talk.
“I have a feeling that whoever is in power in the U.S. will not change the dynamics in Iraq significantly. Iran’s creeping takeover of the country will not be contained by anything other than a huge re-engagement by the U.S., which I don’t believe Trump is up for.
“Trump’s anti-Tehran stance will be welcomed by Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states, and could heighten the Sunni-Shia rift in the region to potentially catastrophic levels,” says Neuhof. “If Iran feels threatened by the U.S., it will double up on its efforts to strengthen its proxies, and more proxy wars could be the consequence.”
America’s new president has said repeatedly he wanted to join with Russia, which would mean joining with Syrian President Bashar Assad, to fight ISIS. But as Neuhof points out, “Ironically, U.S. support for the Assad regime would play right into the hands of Iran, which has a huge interest in keeping the dictator in place. Assad and Russia have systematically fought the more moderate elements of the rebels, while leaving ISIS largely unscathed, in order to present the world with the stark choice between a murderous regime in Damascus and a murderous regime in Raqqa. That Trump fails to see that speaks volumes about his grasp of world affairs.” [Continue reading…]