Trump Middle East Moves Demonstrate Merits of 'America First' Agenda | Opinion

Will America re-elect a commander-in-chief who will continue to put America's national interest first, seeking peace through overwhelming strength prudently used and based in a vision of the world as it is, or will we risk a reprisal of a leader who put the interests of America's adversaries first, seeking peace through weakness and appeasement, based in a vision of the world as he wished it to be?

President Donald Trump's recent achievements and actions regarding the Middle East raise this question.

The prospect of a "President Joe Biden" (deserving of parentheticals until the cellar-dwelling absentee "candidate" proves otherwise), or a de facto President Kamala Harris—avatars for a President Obama free to pursue and realize his radically leftist vision with a mandate from the Democratic Party's ascendant progressive wing—only further begs it.

With respect to the Trump administration's recent moves, first, it announced it had helped broker the Abraham Accord, a landmark agreement under which Israel and the United Arab Emirates will fully normalize diplomatic relations. Reportedly, more may follow, from Oman to Bahrain and, perhaps, Saudi Arabia and beyond. The Abraham Accord, and any such future pacts, will represent a massive breakthrough for regional peace and stability that will redound to America's benefit by strengthening the Israel-Arab counterweight to the imperialist Iranian regime and therefore reducing America's footprint in the region.

Second, after America's allies and partners cravenly abstained from a vote on a U.S. resolution at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to extend the Iran arms embargo past its scheduled October 2020 termination date—a consequence of the Obama-Biden administration's Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or "Iran deal"—the Trump administration initiated the process to impose "snapback" sanctions. Such a snapback would not only extend the arms embargo, but would re-enact other measures designed to thwart Iran's malign efforts. Such sanctions would cripple a regime already reeling as a consequence of the Trump administration's maximum pressure campaign. In a related shot across Iran's bow, the Trump administration, for the first time, seized vessels carrying Iranian oil to Venezuela allegedly in violation of sanctions.

Tying these actions together are diametrically opposed visions of American foreign policy generally—and on the Middle East, in particular—when it comes to Trump versus Obama II (Biden-Harris). To see this, one need only compare Trump to Obama I—that is, to the Obama-Biden administration.

Unlike the Obama-Biden administration, the Trump administration views Israel as our chief ally in the region, and Iran—which has been at war with America since 1979—as our chief adversary.

Unlike the Obama-Biden administration, the Trump administration has therefore sought to strengthen Israel and encourage partnerships between it and America's Sunni Arab allies and partners, rather than denigrating and undermining them while strengthening Iran.

In connection therewith, unlike the Obama-Biden administration, the Trump administration has explicitly rejected the idea that conflict between Palestinian Arabs and Israel is the central irritant in the Middle East, seeking to take this issue off the table relative to broader regional concerns. It has recognized that the dysfunction and devastation wrought by Palestinian Arab leadership is as much a headache for Arab regimes as it is a threat to Israel's existence, and that dealing in truth and reality provides the best prospect for realizing America's objectives in the region.

Unlike the Obama-Biden administration, the Trump administration has operated according to the belief that the best way to deal with an adversarial Iran is to exert maximum pressure on the mullocracy—and to expose the regime's corruption to the Iranians suffering under it—rather than to coddle it. It has rejected the facially absurd idea that making the world's greatest sponsor of jihad the preeminent Middle East power will create peace.

Unlike the Obama-Biden administration, the Trump administration has sought to create an Israel-Arab bloc to counter the mullocracy—again, in hopes of reducing commitment of American blood and treasure in the region—rather than making the mullocracy preeminent and hamstringing its rivals.

Unlike the Obama-Biden administration, in the foregoing matters the Trump administration has sought to lead the remaining adherents of the truly liberal international order, rather than conforming America's views to the increasingly progressive international order.

The burgeoning Israel-Arab partnership manifested in the Abraham Accord, and reflected in a mass of sub rosa dealings, never materialized under Obama-Biden precisely because it never desired such a counterweight to Iran. It sought a hegemonic Iran. As such, it isolated and punished Israel, while courting the Sunni Islamists who threatened the ruling Arab regimes across the region. Conversely, it aided, abetted and enabled their mutual mortal Iranian enemy.

The perverse consequence of the Obama-Biden policy was that it inadvertently helped bring Sunni Arab regimes closer toward Israel. That was its sole contribution to the regional realignment—contrary to former Vice President Biden's laughable attempt to take credit for it. That realignment, in fact, may well be crystallizing in the run-up to the 2020 election precisely because the Israel-Arab bloc fears a de facto Obama II administration that would once again put its finger on the scales for the mullocracy and seek to make it the regional hegemon. Indeed, the Biden campaign has signaled its desire to return to the JCPOA. More on this momentarily.

Breakthroughs in relations between Israel and Arab neighbors that had historically sought its destruction are of a piece with the Trump administration's broader philo-Semitism—a philo-Semitism rooted in shared values, principles and interests. The Trump administration recognizes that a strong Israel is a boon to America—a force for stability in a chaotic but strategically vital part of the world being roped into the all-critical U.S.-China competition. Never forget that appeasing Iran to make it the dominant power in the Islamic world was the single greatest foreign policy effort of the Obama-Biden administration—and something our greatest adversary of all and Biden supporter, China, cheered on.

President Trump announcing Israel-UAE peace from
President Trump announcing Israel-UAE peace from White House Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

As for the goings-on at the UNSC, such actions must be seen in context of the Trump administration's broader effort to exert maximum pressure on Iran's mullocracy, beginning with its vacating of the JCPOA and its dogged defense of America's national interest at that often-hostile forum. Initiating the process of snapback represents a natural next step after America freed itself from the constraints of the destructive JCPOA. The Trump administration rightly reasons that the only position from which to deal with Iran is from one of strength.

That America was the sole Western power—joined by the Dominican Republic—leading the charge to extend the arms embargo at UNSC, notwithstanding the fact that the abstaining allies had themselves noted Iran was not complying with the JCPOA earlier this year, should be celebrated. The Biden-supporting media portrayed these abstentions by our allies and partners at the UNSC as embarrassing, but in reality, it is our friends who should have been ashamed. By refusing to extend the Iran arms embargo, they were signaling that they had no intention of making Iran honor its agreements; that they supported Chinese and Russian dealings with the mullahs; that blackmail, bombast and terror—even on their own soil—paid off. Those critics of the Trump administration and supporters of a future "Biden administration," with respect to initiating snapback sanctions, must answer to the American people—specifically whether, like our European friends, they too believe in making toothless deals with enemies, bolstering Putin and Xi and rewarding the tottering mullocracy's terror.

The Trump administration's policies on Israel, Iran and the Middle East more broadly, and their fruits, are a consequence of an America First vision. They flow from a desire to protect America's national interest by avoiding foreign entanglements, both through the credible threat of overwhelming force and the bolstering and bringing together our allies and partners to counter common threats.

The Abraham Accord, and the vastly increased contributions provided by our North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies, are a testament to the latter effort.

On the former effort, the Trump administration has combined a massive military buildup, reversing the Obama-Biden gutting of our armed forces, with credible demonstrations of a willingness to use meaningful force—for example, against Iran, in taking Qassem Soleimani off the battlefield.

It has wed these policies with decisive action where others have dithered—for example, in finally fulfilling the promise to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

It has shown that it means what it says, and that it says what it means.

Contrary to hysterical cries from the critics, on these and many other moves, World War III never commenced.

This is because in the Middle East—and indeed, throughout much of a world filled with retrograde regimes, many of which harbor ill will toward America—strength and resolve are respected.

The Trump administration's foreign policy represents strength and resolve prudently applied. It truly represents an American people that clearly see the threats to our country, but who are war-weary, skeptical of a foreign policy establishment whose views and policies have all-too-often seemed unmoored from reality, and who have themselves borne the brunt of such delusions.

A "Biden administration," like the Obama-Biden administration, would trash America First in favor of our Adversaries First.

This is what is on the ballot in 2020.

It is a threat to our national security.

Ben Weingarten is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, fellow at the Claremont Institute and senior contributor to The Federalist. He is the author of American Ingrate: Ilhan Omar and the Progressive-Islamist Takeover of the Democratic Party (Bombardier, 2020). Ben is the founder and CEO of ChangeUp Media LLC, a media consulting and production company. Subscribe to his newsletter at, and follow him on Twitter @bhweingarten.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.

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