(Visit: http://www.uctv.tv/) The Trump Administration has an anti-ISIS military policy but has zeroed out reconstruction support for areas that have been liberated from ISIS in Syria. It has an anti-Iranian policy both rhetorically and economically, but it leaves containing the spread of Iran and the Shia militias in Syria to Israel and to the Russians and leaves Israel on its own to deal with the Russians. It has declared it will present a peace plan for the Israelis and Palestinians but at this point is unable to deal directly with the Palestinian Authority. In all these areas, there are elements of a policy but inconsistencies as well. The gap between objectives and means remains wide. Can it be bridged? Will we see an effective strategy for the area? And, what would an effective strategy look like? Dennis Ross will cover all this in his lecture. Recorded on 10/21/2018. Series: “Herman P. and Sophia Taubman Endowed Symposia in Jewish Studies” [2/2019] [Show ID: 34373]
Trump, by taking a hard line on Iran, drew some needed attention to Iran’s bad behavior and created an opportunity to improve the nuclear deal. But to do so would have required Trump to admit that there was merit in the deal Obama had forged and to be content with limited, but valuable, fixes that our European allies likely would have embraced.
.. Instead, Trump pushed for the max, torched the whole bridge, separating us from Germany, France and Britain, undermining the forces of moderation in Iran.
.. Color me dubious that a president who has not been able to manage his confrontation with a stripper, or prevent leaks in his White House, can manage a multifront strategy for confronting Iran and North Korea and trade wars with China, Europe and Mexico.
.. Obama’s view of the Middle East was that it was an outlier region, where a toxic brew of religious extremism, tribalism, oil, corruption, climate change and mis-governance made positive change from outside impossible; it had to come from within. By the end of his eight years, Obama was skeptical of all the leaders in the Middle East — Iranian, Arab and Israeli — and of their intentions.
.. It made Obama a policy minimalist on the Middle East: keep it simple and focus on the biggest threat.
.. By lifting sanctions on Iran as part of the deal, Obama hoped Iran would become integrated into the world and moderate the regime.
.. By contrast, Trump’s team is made up of maximalists. They want to limit Iran’s ballistic missile program, reverse its imperialistic reach into the Sunni Arab world, require Iran to accept terms that would ensure it could never ever enrich enough uranium for a nuclear bomb, and, if possible, induce regime change in Tehran.
.. in almost every country the alternative to autocracy turned out not to be democracy, but disorder or military dictatorship. If Iran, a country of 80 million people, was to go the way of Syria, it would destabilize the entire Middle East, and refugees would pour into Europe.
.. Iran has projected its power deep into the Arab world. But that was not because of money it got from the nuclear deal and sanctions relief, as argued by Trump & friends. It was because of the weakness of the Sunni Arab states and their internecine fighting, which created power vacuums that Iran has filled
.. Israel gets censured for implanting settlements deep into the West Bank. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates get censured for contributing to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. But the Iranians have gotten away with murder, mass murder, at home and abroad — with virtually no censure.
.. In Syria, Iran’s special forces and its mercenary recruits — Hezbollah militiamen from Lebanon and Shiite hired guns from Central Asia — have helped President Bashar al-Assad perpetrate a ruthless genocide against Syrian Sunnis, including the use of poison gas, in order to maintain a pro-Shiite, pro-Iranian dictatorship in Damascus.
.. “The aim … is changing the demography” of Syria by settling Iranian-backed Shiite militiamen “from Afghanistan, Lebanon and other countries in the region … to fill the demographic vacuum” left by the hundreds of thousands of Syrians who have fled their civil war.
.. Rather than scrapping the deal, he should have told the Europeans that all he wanted to stay in the deal were three fixes:
1. Extend the ban on Iran’s enriching of uranium to weapons grade from the original 15 years Obama negotiated to 25 years.
2. Europe and the U.S. agree to impose sanctions if Iran ever attempts to build a missile with a range that could hit Europe or America.
3. The U.S. and Europe use diplomacy to spotlight and censure Iran’s “occupations” of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.
Last October, satellite images captured the distinctive outlines of some powerful new weaponry at a Saudi runway used for military strikes in Yemen. Three Wing Loong drones had appeared, Chinese-made replicas of the U.S. Predator with a similar ability to stay aloft for hours carrying missiles and bombs... growing evidence that military drones exported by China have recently been deployed in conflicts in the Mideast and Africa by several countries, including U.S. allies that the U.S. blocked from buying American models... The U.S. has long refused to sell the most powerful U.S.-made drones to most countries, fearing they might fall into hostile hands, be used to suppress civil unrest or, in the Mideast, erode Israel’s military dominance... State companies are selling aircraft resembling General Atomics’s Predator and Reaper drones at a fraction of the cost to U.S. allies and partners, and to other buyers...Among the Pentagon’s concerns is that advanced drones could be used against American forces. In Syria, U.S. pilots have shot down two Iranian-made armed drones threatening members of the U.S.-led coalition... Chinese and Saudi officials agreed to jointly produce as many as 100 Rainbow drones in Saudi Arabia.. proved “on the battlefield,” hitting 300 targets in the previous year or so with Chinese laser-guided missiles... Beijing used to sell mainly low-tech arms to poorer countries; now it is marketing sophisticated items including stealth fighters, and targeting markets once dominated by Russia and the U.S... “China faces little competition for sale of such systems, as most countries that produce them are restricted in selling the technology” by international agreement.. The Pentagon estimates China could produce almost 42,000 aerial drones—sale value more than $10 billion—in the decade up to 2023... U.S. armed drones are still overwhelmingly considered the most capable, in part because the U.S. satellite infrastructure that controls them is superior. Israel has been the top military-drone exporter for years, according to SIPRI. But Israel has largely avoided selling them in its own Mideast neighborhood... A Wing Loong, meanwhile, costs about $1 million compared with about $5 million for its U.S.-made counterpart, the Predator, and about $15 million for a Reaper, whose Chinese competition is the CH-5... Chinese strike and surveillance drones have been used by Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. in the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen... A North Korean drone that crashed in South Korea in 2014 was Chinese-made..The CH-5 can in fact operate for up to 40 hours, its manufacturer says—about 50% longer than its American competition.