Trump's National Security Strategy Marks a Major Break With Obama's Policy in the Middle East

President Donald Trump pauses as he is introduced by Vice President Mike Pence in Washington, Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Donald Trump pauses as he is introduced by Vice President Mike Pence in Washington, Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Earlier today, President Trump unveiled his National Security Strategy. My colleague, Sarah Lee, has a good rundown of the general principles. And while the economic part of the strategy has gotten the most attention, perhaps the most startling change in the Trump administration from the Obama administration is how it sees the Israel-Palestine conflict, Iran, and radical Islam.

Despite international challenges, the document cites emerging opportunities to advance American interests in the Middle East. “Some of our partners are working together to reject radical ideologies, and key leaders are calling for a rejection of Islamist extremism and violence,” it says. “Encouraging political stability and sustainable prosperity would contribute to dampening the conditions that fuel sectarian grievances.”

The strategy document asserts that “for generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region. Today, the threats from radical jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems. States have increasingly found common interests with Israel in confronting common threats.”

While Trump didn’t create the environment, he and his national security team are owed credit for seeing how the environment created by Obama’s fellating of various Iranian mullahs could be used as a way to lance the perpetual boil of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic anger that has prevented any rapprochement between Israel and most of the Arab world. Iran has made major inroads into turning Hamas into a cub scout variety of Lebanese Hezbollah. The Palestinian Authority pretends it is in charge but it doesn’t have the strength, the ferocity or the weaponry to face down Hamas when nut-cutting time arrives. Saudi Arabia and much of the rest of the Arab world are seeing the Iranian threat as being much more of a real and present danger than Israel.

The administration saying that the unrest in the Middle East is not a byproduct of Israel’s existence should be a hint to the Palestinians, along with the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and approval of Israel increasing the population density in its current settlements, that their moment is slipping by and their intransigence is not going to win them more but might very well see them get a damned sight less. As somebody who might have been famous once said, “The one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”

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The second interesting thing is this:

Notice there is no mealy-mouthed “perversion of Islam” language. It is very simple and straight forward. It says what a lot of us have been saying for more than a decade. ISIS and al-Qaeda don’t represent some rogue, heretical form of Islam, they represent Islam as it is taught in madrassas across the world and only curbed by the oppressive reign of Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Assad, Mubarak, and others. They represent it in the pure form that emerged from the Arabian Peninsula 1200 years ago.

The proof of the pudding they say, is in the eating, but if the National Security Strategy announced by President Trump today is followed through with any energy whatsoever, it means a significant change in American foreign and domestic policy.