Wednesday, April 8, 2015

44's Doctrine

44's Doctrine is simple and universal: Warm relations with adversaries and cool them with friends.

Several assumptions underlie this approach: The U.S. government morally must compensate for its prior errors. Great Satan after all, the doctrine suggests, historically having exerted a malign influence on the outside world. Greedy corporations, an overly-powerful military-industrial complex, a yahoo nationalism, engrained racism, and cultural imperialism combined to render America, on balance, a force for evil.

Smiling at hostile states will inspire them to reciprocate. Using force creates more problems than it solves. Historic U.S. allies, partners, and helpers are morally inferior accessories. In the Middle East, this means reaching out to revisionists (Erdoğan, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Republic of Iran) and pushing away cooperative governments (Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia).

Of these actors, two stand out: Iran and Israel. Establishing good relations with Tehran appears to be 44’s great preoccupation. As Michael Doran of the Hudson Institute has shown, 44 during his entire presidency has worked toward rendering Iran what he calls “a very successful regional power … abiding by international norms and international rules.” Contrarily, his pre-presidential friendships with truculent anti-Zionists such as Ali Abunimah, Rashid Khalidi, and Edward Said point to the depth of his hostility toward the Jewish state.

44's Doctrine demystifies what is otherwise inscrutable. For example, it explains why the White House blithely ignored the Iranian supreme leader’s outrageous “Death to America” yelp in March, dismissing it as mere domestic pandering, even as 44 glommed onto the Israeli prime minister’s near simultaneous electoral campaign comment rejecting a two-state solution with the Palestinians during his term of office (“we take him at his word”).

The doctrine also offers guidelines to predict possible developments during 44’s remaining tenure, such as: Wretched P5+1 deals with Iran compelling Israel’s government to attack Iranian nuclear facilities. Gentle policies toward Damascus clearing the way for the Assad regime to re-extend its power. Ankara choosing to provoke a crisis in the eastern Mediterranean over Cypriot gas and oil reserves.

The great question ahead is how, in their wisdom, the American people will judge 44's Doctrine when they next vote for president in 19 months. Will they repudiate his policy of shuffling and contrition, as they comparably did in 1980 when they elected 40 over 39? Or will they choose four more years of it, thereby turning 44's Doctrine into the new norm and Americans into European-style remorseful masochists?

Their verdict in 2016 has potentially world-historical implications.

Pic - "The strategic assumptions of 44's administration’s force planning have not become reality, including that Europe would remain at peace, that the US was overcommitted across the Middle East, and that a “pivot” to Asia could be achieved without a notable increase in forces."