Why Trump’s Doctrine Is Working in the Middle East

January 19, 2020 Updated: January 21, 2020
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Commentary

There are amazing and exciting changes going on around the world, and the people responsible for reporting the news can’t see it or choose to ignore it, because it can’t be used to drive their favorite narratives.

The Western media is blind to what’s really been happening over the past decade in the Middle East. Many reporters remain stuck in the Bush era, during which the conflicts began in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The viewpoint that clouds the U.S. news media’s coverage of foreign policy issues related to the Middle East is the idea that if the United States doesn’t do it alone—or at least lead other nations into doing it—nothing will get done.

That certainly didn’t start with President George W. Bush. That’s been the viewpoint of many presidents prior to him.

In fact, during the Cold War, both the United States and the USSR used the region as a proxy playing field, each side seeking to extend its own influence.

Many countries in the region received overtures from both sides of the Cold War conflict. More than a few of these “free agent” nations made it a fine art of playing one side off the other.

Trump’s Doctrine Is Radically Different

The doctrine introduced by President Donald Trump when it comes to his foreign policy is radically different from that of every president before him when it comes to the Middle East. This is especially true in the case of President Barack Obama.

There were very real and compelling reasons for Trump to make his first official foreign trip as the newly inaugurated president of the United States to Saudi Arabia.

Trump demonstrated to the Saudis and their allies in the region that Trump’s presidency would indeed be radically different from Obama’s. For one thing, Trump was actually listening to them and hearing what they were saying.

If the nations surrounding Iran were able to police and secure their own region, then there wouldn’t be any reason for the United States or other outside foreign powers to keep stepping in to do it for them.

Ecstatic to have found a president who wanted to help them take care of their own problems, the Saudis couldn’t wait for Trump to visit so they could publicly welcome and thank him for that.

News Media Still Misses Real Point of Trump’s Saudi Trip

At the time of Trump’s Saudi trip, a news media still struggling to comprehend that this garish cartoon figure was now the U.S. president laughed uproariously at the absurd “photo ops” of the “sword dance” and the “globe ceremony.”

Epoch Times Photo
President Donald Trump joins dancers with swords during a ceremony ahead of a banquet at the Murabba Palace in Riyadh on May 20, 2017.  (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

You know who isn’t laughing about that sword dance or globe ceremony these days? ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian Mullahs, the Houthis, Hezbollah, and every extremist terrorist group in that region.

So, to this day, the mainstream media still doesn’t grasp what was occurring right in front of them. Trump listens to the locals, whereas every previous president strode in and told them what to do.

Instead, Trump approaches them like an equal, not their boss. He says, “You tell me how I can help you. You’re in charge here. It’s your country, your region. I’m a visitor. Tell me what you need me to do.”

Trump’s Approach to Iran

While Obama settled on a policy of appeasing Iran, and by extension, the power behind Iran (Russia), Trump from the beginning has pursued a diametrically opposite policy.

Getting the Iran deal done was Obama’s true north star for his presidency; almost every foreign policy move he made—or chose not to make—in his eight years in power was to avoid angering President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, President Bashar Assad in Damascus, Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing, or the leaders of Iran.

There were other countries watching Obama early on. What they saw so greatly troubled them that they finally organized to tackle what had until then looked like an insurmountable problem. The result of that endeavor is the combined military might of more than a dozen countries that work in concert together to police and secure their own territories.

After just one meeting with Obama in 2009, it was crystal clear to Saudi King Abdullah that this new U.S. president wasn’t going to help when it came to curtailing Iran’s activities in the region. In fact, Obama made it obvious that he fully intended to boost Iran’s extra-national efforts with a huge infusion of cash and a lifting of sanctions.

That’s exactly what the countries surrounding Iran didn’t want to hear. If the United States not only wasn’t going to help curtail Iran, but was about to begin helping the rise of an Iranian nuclear hegemony in the region, it was up to them to do something about it.

So they did.

By the time Trump won the 2016 election, all was ready.

And then came the time for dancing.

Brian Cates is a writer based in South Texas and the author of “Nobody Asked For My Opinion … But Here It Is Anyway!” He can be reached on Twitter @drawandstrike.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.