Joe Biden and his staff have declared that under his presidency (if there is one), "the U.S. is back" and Biden will be "ready to lead he world, not retreat from it."
But in the volatile Mideast, a Never-Trumper U.S. ambassador, James Jeffrey, claims President Trump has exercised strong leadership and that his policies have made the region more stable.
Jeffrey added that none of America’s Mideast allies wants to see President Trump leave office.
Recently-retired Ambassador James Jeffrey is a career Foreign Service officer who had the difficult task of serving as the U.S. Special Envoy for Syria and the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.
But Jeffrey also pulled off something far more difficult.
He managed to get a senior appointment from the Trump administration even though he signed a Never Trump letter in 2016 with 50 other former Republican national security officials denouncing Mr. Trump as not qualified and not having the temperament to be president.
Even after taking a top job with the Trump administration, Jeffrey remained a Never-Trumper.
Jeffrey even revealed in a recent interview with Defense One that he routinely lied to senior Trump officials about the actual numbers of U.S. troops in Syria to sabotage the president’s effort to withdraw them from the country.
But despite his outlandish insubordination of President Trump, Jeffrey grudgingly admitted that Trump’s Mideast policy has been highly successful and should be continued and built upon by a Biden administration.
According to Jeffrey, "Nobody really wants to see President Trump go, among all our allies [in the Middle East], the truth is President Trump and his policies are quite popular among all of our popular states in the region. Name me one that’s not happy."
According to Ambassador Jeffrey, President Trump’s approach to the Mideast has yielded a more stable region and has been more successful than the previous two presidents.
Jeffrey said President Bush’s invasion of Iraq and President Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo proclaiming a "new beginning" with the Muslim world "made things worse" and "weakened us."
Jeffrey also told Defense One the Trump administration "has looked at the Middle East through a geostrategic lens and kept its focus on Iran, Russia, and China, while keeping the metastatic 'disease' of Islamist terror in check."
Jeffrey also gave the administration credit "with maintaining relations with the central government and constraining Iranian influence in Baghdad."
President Trump’s Mideast policy succeeded because he ignored the conventional wisdom of the foreign policy establishment that led to decades of failed policies and endless wars in the region.
Instead of bogging down Mideast peace talks with the United Nations and Europe, the U.S. worked directly with Arab states and Israel.
Additionally, although Trump officials devised a generous peace deal for Israel and the Palestinians, they wisely did not allow Palestinian officials to block further moves toward peace in the region after they rejected this deal.
Most importantly, the Trump administration convinced Arab states and Israel to improve relations and unite against a common enemy: Iran.
In addition to three Arab states agreeing to normalize relations with Israel over the last few months, this effort led to an extraordinary meeting last week when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu actually visited Saudi Arabia for a secret meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Ambassador Jeffrey’s "hostile witness" praise for President Trump’s Mideast policy comes as former Vice President Biden, if he becomes president, plans to throw out Trump’s foreign policies with a national security team led by Obama administration retreads.
These include Antony Blinken (who spent most of his career as a Biden aide) as his secretary of state, and Jake Sullivan, a former aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Sullivan helped negotiate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (the JCPOA), as national security adviser.
Biden is determined to rejoin the JCPOA, but has said Iran must first come into full compliance. Biden then plans to open talks with Iran to improve the nuclear deal.
But Iran has said it will not renegotiate the agreement.
A treasure trove of documents on Iran’s nuclear weapons program stolen by Israel in 2018 proved it was never in compliance with the nuclear deal. It is therefore likely that Biden, given his eagerness to repudiate Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA, will rejoin the JCPOA and drop sanctions in response to empty promises from Iran to comply with and to conduct future negotiations.
The entire Mideast is afraid of such an outcome since it would give Iran a financial windfall to spend on its military, nuclear program, missile program, and terrorism.
This would amount to U.S. appeasement of Iran that likely would embolden it to increase its meddling across the region.
Such a resumption of Obama-era appeasement of Iran would severely undermine U.S. credibility in the Mideast and prevent any new U.S.-brokered peace deals.
Recent peace deals between Israel and Arab states also may be at risk under a Biden presidency because of the Democratic Party’s hostility toward Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Biden’s interest in placating the Palestinians, and his determination to address global conflicts multilaterally, especially through the U.N.
Joe Biden’s aides also want to "reassess" U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia and possibly Egypt due their human rights practices.
This is a formula for returning to the failed Mideast policies of the last two administrations which not only destabilized the Mideast but also resulted in unnecessary wars and unending U.S. troop deployments.
Ambassador James Jeffrey advises Joe Biden, if he becomes the next president, to take another approach to the Mideast by staying the course laid out by Trump’s team and not attempt "transformation."
He also recommends a Biden administration should continue the "stable stalemate" in the region brought about by Trump’s Mideast policy.
This will be hard advice to follow for a new Democratic presidential administration eager to put its own mark on U.S. foreign policy and undo everything done by DonaldTrump.
But for the good of American and international security, Biden would be wise to control these impulses and heed this unlikely advice from a Never-Trump career U.S. ambassador.
Fred Fleitz, president of the Center for Security Policy, served in 2018 as deputy assistant to the president and to the chief of staff of the National Security Council. He previously held national-security jobs with the CIA, the DIA, the Department of State, and the House Intelligence Committee. Twitter: @fredfleitz. Read more reports from Fred Fleitz — Click Here Now.
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