No, Trump is not like Obama on Middle East policy : The Conversation


On Jan. 6, National Security Advisor John Bolton walked back President Donald Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would quickly withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, saying that such a withdrawal might actually take months or years.

Trump’s announcement came more than two weeks earlier. Soon after, Trump also directed the Pentagon to halve the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Whatever the fate of either order, pundits and politicians are having a field day comparing Trump’s Middle East policy to that of Barack Obama.

“On this issue…there is more continuity between Trump and Obama than would make either administration comfortable,” Richard N. Haas, president of The Council on Foreign Relations, told The New York Times in an article headlined “A Strategy of Retreat in Syria, with Echoes of Obama.”

The next day, The Hill repeated the sentiment in an article whose headline holds nothing back: “Trump’s Middle East Policy Looks a lot Like Obama’s – That’s not a Good Thing.”

Even Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), whose support for Trump is matched only by his disdain for Obama’s Middle East policy, called Trump’s plan “an Obama-like mistake.”

As someone who has studied and written about the Middle East for more than 30 years, this comparison immediately struck me as wrong.

While both presidents have advocated decreasing America’s footprint in the region, I believe their policies are comparable only on the most superficial level. Understanding why enables us to see the fundamental flaw underlying the current policy.

Trump vs. Obama: Afghanistan

Obama and Trump have taken contrasting approaches to the Afghanistan war, America’s longest. Both favored troop withdrawal – but with different intentions.

 

Source: No, Trump is not like Obama on Middle East policy : The Conversation

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