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Trump Strategy Keys on Iran, Sanctions...And China
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My latest Newsbud video looks at signals from Secretary of Defense Mattis’ trip to Asia and what it means for the South China Sea, East China Sea, and North Korea flashpoints.

For now, Trump Asia policy looks pretty mainstream.

One point I make in the piece is that Trump isn’t necessarily eschewing bloody American military mischief; he’s just keeping its focus on the Middle East, rejecting the Obama promise to “pivot” militarily out of the Middle East and into Asia.

And it looks like he’s decided that the politically most advantageous US security play is 1) anti-radical Islam (pleases his base) and 2) anti-Iran (pleases Saudi Arabia and Israel and freezes the Democrats).

What seems to be on the horizon is a “whack Iran” anti- radical Islam strategy that avoids tussling with Saudi Arabia and the other GCC countries, and will fund and enable and empower Sunni militants in the Iran side of the patch even as JSOC tries to whack Sunni militants elsewhere in the Middle East.

I don’t think that is going to solve the radical Islam problem, but I guess that’s not the point of this geopolitical and political exercise.

Anti-Iran strategy inevitably raises the China sanctions conundrum and Trump and China will both be walking a tightrope when the Iran situation heats up.

Watch my piece for an interesting discussion on the MEK Iranian emigre group as, it seems to me, a stalking horse for KSA and Israeli agitation to derail the Iran agreement.

The MEK has lavishly rewarded US political and military figures across the political spectrum, and I wonder if their largess—and the willingness of US political figures to affiliate themselves with a rather fringe group—is related to Saudi and/or Israeli sponsorship.

US supporters of the MEK who wrote a public letter to Trump urging renegotiating the Iran deal includee General James Jones (previously Marine Corps commandant and National Security Advisory), Robert Joseph (the neocons’ neocon), two ex-governors of Pennsylvania (Rendell and Ridge), Joseph Liebermann (Israel’s reliable defender in Congress), Louis Freeh (ex-FBI director), Michael Mukasey (ex-Attorney General), and so on.

Given the support that Iran can muster from Europe, Russia, and China, it seems unlikely that Trump will take a military swing directly at Iran. And I think Trump, who had the good sense to avoid a land war in Asia in his youth and has excoriated the US blunder into Iraq, is less than interested in trying to take down Iran with a military attack right now.

That means more bad times for Yemen, I think, as a weak and vulnerable opponent for an American president looking to make a geopolitical statement–and pump up his Commander in Chief credential.

Yemen is a war crime that should be shut down, in my opinion.

But it doesn’t look like it will happen.

The extent to which Yemen’s Houthis are now characterized as Iranian proxies, not just by the White House team but also by the Beltway security establishment, is a sorry sign that the US will probably continue to enable and abet Saudi Arabia’s brutal and futile Yemen war, perhaps as a placeholder and justification for more direct anti-Iran military action later.

(Republished from China Matters by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: China, Donald Trump, Iran, Iran Sanctions, MEK 
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  1. Vendetta says:

    I honestly hope there’s something to the whole Trump/Putin relationship after all. We’re going to have to count on Putin to be Trump’s voice of reason on Iran. No one else will.

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  2. Randal says:

    All too depressingly plausible, and the outlook hasn’t changed much for the better since this piece was written.

    The signs for Trump in office, as far as fulfilling campaign hopes for any real change in US foreign policy goes, are not at all good. It looks as though we might have to settle for just being relieved it wasn’t Clinton, and putting up with another 4 years of murderous American blundering.

    There’s still hope, but ever less of it.

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