Archive for the ‘Foreign Policy’ Category

18
Oct

US President Donald Trump just made the first step to dismantle a deal that took more than four years to negotiate, from the first overtures made by the Obama administration to Iran in 2011 to the final signing of The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015.
Trump is seeking to undo the diplomatic legacy of the previous administration, arguing that the Iran nuclear deal failed to prevent the development of Tehran’s ballistic missile programme and end its support for terrorism.

Trump ostensibly wants a grand bargain that will cover all of these issues. The irony is that in the past such a grand bargain was put on the table and rejected. Iran itself proposed it in 2003, and it was Trump’s Republican predecessor, George W Bush, that failed to pursue it. That failure led to Iran waging a low-intensity proxy war against the US in Iraq.
Just as Iran had options then to communicate its displeasure when the US failed to engage with it, so it has now. And all of them would lead to more instability in Iraq and the region as a whole. Read more…

By Ibrahim Al-Marashi
Published on Oct. 14, in http://www.aljazeera.com

Ibrahim Al-Marashi is Associate Professor of Middle East History at California State University San Marcos. His publications include Iraq’s Armed Forces: An Analytical History, The Modern History of Iraq, and the forthcoming, A Concise History of the Middle East, and a regular contributor for Al-Jazeera English and TRT World.

26
Sep

What does the war in Syria have in common with the stand-off in North Korea? All the leaders involved in the conflict use missiles as a diplomatic tool to boast of their country’s strength, and to send political messages.

In a speech before the United Nations on Tuesday, President Trump branded North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “rocket man,” borrowing a term from an John Elton song.

However, Trump, is also a rocket man. So is Vladimir Putin. They all use “rockets,” or more specifically cruise and ballistic missiles to send political message to their rival “rocket men.”

Within the span of three months, from April 2017 to June 2017, the US, Iran, and Russia have all lobbed missiles over the skies of Syria, not for tactical military reasons, but to send symbolic political messages to their rivals, a form of “missile diplomacy”. Read more…

Published on Sept. 22nd, 2017 in http://www.trtworld.com

Ibrahim Al Marashi

Ibrahim al-Marashi is an associate professor at the Department of History, California State University, San Marcos. He is the co-author of The Modern History of Iraq, 4th edition.

5
Apr

The Silence of Rex Tillerson

Written on April 5, 2017 by Waya Quiviger in Americas, Foreign Policy

One would not expect the secretary of defense routinely to inspect the sentries and walk point on patrols, but, in effect, that is what the secretary of state has to do. He is the chief executive of a department numbering in the tens of thousands, and a budget in the tens of billions; but he is also the country’s chief diplomat, charged with conducting negotiations and doing much of the detailed work of American foreign policy. Americans expect him as well to serve as the president’s senior constitutionally accountable adviser on such matters, and as the expositor of an administration’s foreign policy.

It is not unprecedented for a president to install a business executive as secretary of state. After all, George Shultz, one of the outstanding 20th-century occupants of that office, came to Foggy Bottom from Bechtel. But then again, Shultz had a rich array of experiences under his belt in addition to a successful business career—he had taught economics at MIT and the University of Chicago, and served as both secretary of labor and the first director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Tillerson resembles Shultz in what is, by all accounts, sterling character—honest, considerate, soft-spoken, but effective at managing a large business. There is no reason to doubt his integrity or good judgment. But in his first few months as secretary of state his performance suggests both his limits (which he may transcend) and more fundamental proclivities of the Trump administration (which he almost certainly cannot).

During his short tenure the following has happened: His top pick for deputy secretary of state was shot down at the last minute in a bit of palace intrigue; his boss has proposed slashing his department’s budget by 29 percent; his press operation at the State Department went dark for several weeks, after which the interim spokesman made a (good) statement in support of Russian demonstrators and was promptly moved; he decided to get rid of the usual press entourage on his inaugural overseas trip to Asia; he nearly skipped a meeting of NATO foreign ministers, pulling back in the nick of time to spend only a few hours on the ground in Brussels; he has been preceded on a visit to Iraq by the princeling of the Trump administration, Jared Kushner, whose remit includes China and Middle East peace, among other things. And on the great issues of American foreign policy—nothing. Read more…

Published on April 4 by Eliot Cohen in the atlantic.com

31
Dec

How to make sense of 2016

Written on December 31, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Foreign Policy, Global Economy, Op Ed

FOR a certain kind of liberal, 2016 stands as a rebuke. If you believe, as The Economist does, in open economies and open societies, where the free exchange of goods, capital, people and ideas is encouraged and where universal freedoms are protected from state abuse by the rule of law, then this has been a year of setbacks. Not just over Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, but also the tragedy of Syria, abandoned to its suffering, and widespread support—in Hungary, Poland and beyond—for “illiberal democracy”. As globalisation has become a slur, nationalism, and even authoritarianism, have flourished. In Turkey relief at the failure of a coup was overtaken by savage (and popular) reprisals. In the Philippines voters chose a president who not only deployed death squads but bragged about pulling the trigger. All the while Russia, which hacked Western democracy, and China, which just last week set out to taunt America by seizing one of its maritime drones, insist liberalism is merely a cover for Western expansion.

Faced with this litany, many liberals (of the free-market sort) have lost their nerve. Some have written epitaphs for the liberal order and issued warnings about the threat to democracy. Others argue that, with a timid tweak to immigration law or an extra tariff, life will simply return to normal. That is not good enough. The bitter harvest of 2016 has not suddenly destroyed liberalism’s claim to be the best way to confer dignity and bring about prosperity and equity. Rather than ducking the struggle of ideas, liberals should relish it. Read more…

The Economist,

20
Dec

Why America was bound to fail in Syria

Written on December 20, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Foreign Policy, Middle East, Op Ed

The fall of Aleppo is a human catastrophe. It’s also a demonstration of the perils of choosing the middle course in a military conflict. Sometimes it’s possible to talk and fight at the same time. But in Syria, the U.S. decision to pursue a dual-track, halfway approach made the mayhem worse.

A battered Secretary of State John F. Kerry made one more plea Thursday for a peaceful evacuation of what’s left of Aleppo. At a State Department briefing, he used the strongest language to describe the situation: “Another Srebrenica . . . nothing short of a massacre . . . indiscriminate slaughter . . . a cynical policy of terrorizing civilians.”

But for five years, the United States’ actions haven’t matched its rhetoric. Kerry’s only real weapon now is the gruesome suffering of the Syrian people and the shame it engenders in everyone who watches. That shame hangs over this administration, too.

Kerry’s critics argue that his efforts to negotiate a settlement were always doomed to failure. Maybe so, but after the Russian military intervention in September 2015, the administration concluded that diplomacy was the only viable strategy in Aleppo. Having made that decision, officials needed to make it work. Instead, they continued to toy with an armed opposition they weren’t prepared to fully support. Read more…

 Opinion writer December 15

www.washingtonpost.com

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