American Middle East Strategy in the Trump Era

Oct. 30 2017

Discussing his and Peter Rough’s September essay in Mosaic, Michael Doran explains his concern that the Trump administration is repeating some of the mistakes of the Obama administration, allowing Iran and Russia to expand their influence at the expense of the U.S. and its allies. He lays out a realistic strategy that the U.S. can pursue in order to reverse course. (Interview by Jonathan Silver. Audio, 51 minutes. For streaming and downloading options, please click on the link below.)

Beginning on November 13, Michael Doran will be giving a series of monthly lectures in which he will address how every American president, from Harry Truman to Donald Trump, has understood and shaped America’s strategic relationship with Israel. Click here for more information and for a special invitation to Mosaic readers,

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More about: Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Middle East, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

 

The Dangers of Diplomacy with Iran

Aug. 21 2018

Although President Trump’s offer to meet with President Rouhani of the Islamic Republic was rejected, the possibility of direct negotiations remains. Ray Takeyh and Mark Dubowitz warn that Tehran could use talks to stall and gain leverage over Washington:

The mullahs understand that just by staying at the table, Americans usually offer up concessions. [They] are betting that the Trump administration may become weaker over time, preoccupied with domestic politics. Best to entangle America in protracted diplomacy while awaiting what the regime expects will be midterm Republican losses in Congress and the return of a more flexible Democratic president to power in 2021. This is what [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei probably meant when he stressed that negotiations have to wait until America is softened up.

Diplomacy would surely blunt the impact of U.S. pressure. The mullahs believe they can undermine the escalation of [U.S.] sanctions by being diplomatically flirtatious and know well that America seldom disrupts negotiations with military action. Indeed, as a prelude to the talks, Iran may even resume its nuclear activities to frighten the Europeans and gain leverage by putting even more pressure on Washington to adjust its red lines.

Should negotiations begin, the Trump team should take sensible precautions to avoid the predicament of the Obama negotiators. The administration will need to maintain its maximum-pressure campaign and its negotiating demands. . . . Any negotiations with the Islamic Republic should be time-limited, and Washington must be prepared to leave the table when it confronts the usual pattern of regime bombast and mendacity.

Donald Trump should insist on direct talks with the supreme leader, as he did with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un: Rouhani is a lame duck without any real influence. The administration also should demand that Europeans join its sanctions policy targeting Iran’s ballistic-missile program, support for terrorism, and human-rights abuses as a price for their participation in the talks.

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More about: Ali Khamenei, Donald Trump, Hassan Rouhani, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy