The missile strike that President Trump ordered on the Syrian airbase, which Bashar Al-Assad’s regime reportedly used to launch a chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians last week, demonstrated the kind of American strength and resolve that have been sorely missing during the last eight years.
President Trump and senior members of his administration have also sharply rebuked Russian President Vladimir Putin for defending Assad. However, it is too early to say whether President Trump’s firm response to the Syrian regime’s chemical attack is a game changer or a one-off. President Trump does not appear to have developed yet any coherent foreign policy doctrine of his own, comparable to former President Ronald Reagan’s clear articulation of moral and strategic principles in opposition to the Soviet Union. As a result, President Trump is susceptible at times to following the most persistent voices around him, which has resulted in some wavering on handling radical Islam and Iran.
An analysis by the Gatestone Institute has concluded that the leading members of President Trump’s current foreign policy team “may complicate efforts to fulfill his inaugural pledge to eradicate ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ ‘from the face of the Earth’ — a Herculean task even under the best of circumstances.” In particular, Army Lieutenant General Herbert Raymond "H.R." McMaster, whom replaced retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as President Trump’s national security adviser, harkens back to the Obama days, when associating Islam with terrorism was a no-no.
Flynn had warned, "We are facing another 'ism,' just like we faced Nazism, and fascism, and imperialism and communism. This is Islamism, it is a vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people on this planet and it has to be excised." Flynn clearly articulated the ideological battle we are engaged in with ISIS and other jihadists. But he is out, and McMaster is in.
Back in 2014, as the featured speaker for the President’s Lecture Series at National Defense University, McMaster reportedly said, “The Islamic State is not Islamic.” He might as well have been the stand-in for Barack Obama. At a National Security Council staff meeting last February, after his appointment as national security adviser, McMaster rejected the label “radical Islamic terrorism” because, he claimed, terrorists are “un-Islamic.” This is music to the ears of the Deep State within the federal bureaucracy who were comfortable with Obama’s worldview. With the possible marginalization of President Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, who believes there is a fundamental clash between the Islamic and Judeo-Christian worlds, the ideological dimension of the fight against ISIS and other jihadists may recede further into the background during the remainder of the Trump administration.
With respect to Iran, President Trump’s bark to date has been far worse than his bite. Nothing of substance has materially changed since the Obama days, unless one counts some additional cosmetic sanctions the Trump administration imposed. Several Obama administration hold-overs are said to be continuing to exert influence on the Trump administration’s Iran policy. Iran continues to get a free pass on its missile firings, sponsorship of terrorism, and badgering of U.S. naval ships in international waters. The Trump administration is even continuing the Obama administration’s green light for Boeing to sell potentially dual-use airplanes to Iran. In fact, according to an Iranian news agency report cited by The New York Times, Boeing may be ready to deliver its first commercial jetliner to Iran in a month!
If Flynn had remained as President Trump’s national security adviser, things most likely would have been different. We might know by now, for example, about some of the reportedly secret side deals the Obama administration entered into with Iran to secure the nuclear deal. With Flynn gone, there appears to be little impetus left to remove the secrecy, much less to conduct a wholesale review of whether the disastrous deal should remain as is. Another area that sorely needs review and revamping is the Trump administration’s apparent continuation for now of the Obama administration’s reliance on the help of Iranian-backed Shia militia in fighting ISIS, particularly in Iraq. After the U.S. helps the Iraq military to successfully push ISIS out of Mosul and other areas ISIS currently controls in Iraq, the Iranians are poised to pick up the spoils.
President Trump deserves great credit for the action he took in Syria, while still endeavoring to keep the U.S. out of any broad military entanglement in Syria’s civil war. The focus will remain on defeating ISIS, not militarily forcing regime change. However, President Trump must resist the siren calls of the failed foreign policy establishment vying for his ear and not waver from his bold campaign promises on dealing with radical Islam and Iran.
Joseph A. Klein is a featured author for FrontPage Magazine and the United Nations correspondent for Canada Free Press. He has also authored the books "Global Deception: The UN’s Stealth Assault on America’s Freedom" and "Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations & Radical Islam." Klein, a Harvard Law school alumnus and practicing attorney, has been a guest on many radio shows as a commentator and has appeared on several TV shows including "Fox & Friends." For more of this reports — Click Here Now.
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