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The ‘Neo-American Era’ Is Over Before It Began

Walter Russell Mead tries [1] to put a positive spin on Trump’s terrible foreign policy decisions:

The Trump administration recognizes that, and its strong backing of Arab and Israeli priorities—President Sisi’s government in Egypt, Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen, the Jerusalem embassy—reflects the demands of coalition diplomacy. Expect more of this. Rewarding useful allies is a cornerstone of the Trumpian approach to foreign policy. The more active America’s Middle East allies, the smaller the risk of heavy American engagement in a Middle East ground war.

Mead credits Trump with pursuing a coherent strategy when there is scant evidence of anything like that. He describes U.S. clients in the region as “useful allies,” but none of them has proven to be useful at doing very much except causing more headaches for the U.S. and implicating us in their crimes. The activism of reckless clients has not kept the U.S. out of unnecessary wars, but instead keeps pulling us into them. Trump has nothing to show for all of his indulgence and reflexive support of these states, and meanwhile the U.S. is responsible for fueling one of the most destructive conflicts in the world.

Trump favors U.S. clients in the Middle East so strongly because the president buys into the idea that Obama supposedly neglected and ignored these governments and intends to do the opposite of whatever his predecessor did, and he is very susceptible to flattery from foreign leaders eager to win him over to their side. Indulging these clients hasn’t made them more effective or useful in advancing U.S. interests, and in the case of the Saudis increased U.S. support for the war on Yemen has compounded one of Obama’s greatest errors to the detriment of U.S. security and the welfare of the people of Yemen. The so-called “neo-American era” Mead describes is defined by a series of foolish decisions that are already squandering U.S. influence and power in vain pursuits.

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8 Comments To "The ‘Neo-American Era’ Is Over Before It Began"

#1 Comment By Donald On May 15, 2018 @ 8:43 am

Mead is a weird guy. Way back in the 80’s he wrote “Mortal Splendor”, which seemed to be a liberal critique of American imperialism. I read it at the time. I was shocked after 9/11 when he started popping up on TV defending American imperialism. Either he changed or maybe in hindsight there were hints of his imperial tendencies back in the book I had read. He did favor some sort of global New Deal. Perhaps he thinks we need to bomb the world into submission first.

#2 Comment By Luther Perez On May 15, 2018 @ 9:42 am

I wonder how much Trump’s lawyers are billing our “allies” in the Middle-east?

#3 Comment By Kurt Gayle On May 15, 2018 @ 9:50 am

Mead supported the Iraq war. Mead attacked Mearsheimer and Walt for their book about the power of the Israel lobby. Mead backs the Trump administration’s “strong backing of…Israeli priorities.” (Like so many, when it comes to Israel, Mead makes smart career moves.)

#4 Comment By Uncle Billy On May 15, 2018 @ 10:21 am

Our so called “allies”, the Israelis and Saudis cost us a lot of money and trouble. We fight their wars for them but they don’t do much for us. Such a deal.

#5 Comment By clairence On May 15, 2018 @ 1:37 pm

Mead: “Rewarding useful allies is a cornerstone of the Trumpian approach to foreign policy.”

Larison: “Mead credits Trump with pursuing a coherent strategy when there is scant evidence of anything like that.”

I’ve got to side with Mead on this one, but only because Trump’s coherent strategy is: “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”. From an international diplomatic standpoint, Trump is meandering and chaotic, but from an interpersonal – selfish – standpoint, Trump’s strategy is completely predictable.

“…defined by a series of foolish decisions that are already squandering U.S. influence and power in vain pursuits.” I think yes, exactly that.

#6 Comment By jk On May 15, 2018 @ 1:51 pm

Not an Onion article but satire nonetheless:

“U.S. envoy Haley praises Israel for ‘restraint’ against Hamas ”

[2]

#7 Comment By jk On May 15, 2018 @ 1:52 pm

Speaking of which, protestors do not equal Hamas, this is how Orwellian and distorted the language has become when it comes to Palestine/Israel.

#8 Comment By EarlyBird On May 15, 2018 @ 3:07 pm

As far as flattery goes, Netanyahu’s comments on the opening of the embassy yesterday seemed designed to butter up Trump entirely. I get the gratitude to Trump and the US, but it was bordering on cloying.