The New Difficulty of Writing Blog Posts

You know it’s getting darned hard to write blog posts without defending Trump or appearing to defend him, something I don’t care to do. For example consider the conclusion of this post at Ozy by John McLaughlin:

When it comes to the Middle East, Trump has created a lot of sound, fury and drama, but much of this is either unfinished, uncertain or unwise. Overall, the region is no more stable than when Trump came to power, and in some ways the region’s volatility may even be increasing.

Consider a list of post-war presidents:

Truman
Eisenhower
Kennedy
Johnson
Nixon
Ford
Carter
Reagan
Bush I
Clinton
Bush II
Obama

After which of their terms of office was the Middle East more stable than when he assumed office? I think there’s a reasonable argument that the answer is none of them. It’s too early to tell with Trump but IMO believing he will bring more stability to the Middle East where 70 years of American presidents have failed is wishful thinking.

There’s plenty of things to blame Trump for without complaining that he’s no more successful than other American presidents.

15 comments… add one
  • CuriousOnlooker

    Trump is playing with fire on the Jeruselem issue. It may very well consume foreign policy for the rest of his Presidentcy.

  • I have no opinion on the merits of the policy. I suspect he’s overly influenced by Israel’s interests on the question but he’s not the only American president of the last 50 years of whom that’s been the case. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush said that a united Jerusalem should be recognized as Israel’s capitol and the embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv. Neither made good on their promises. Is the objection that Trump is promising it or that he might actually make good on the promise?

    BTW that’s one of my complaints about American foreign policy over the last half century. We’re pursuing the interests of Israel, Germany, the EU, etc. to the detriment of our own. Sometimes our interests coincide with the EU’s. Sometimes they don’t. We need to know the difference.

    Recognizing that different countries have different interests and priorities isn’t isolationist.

  • CuriousOnlooker

    I am similar to you; I don’t know enough to support or oppose the policy on the merits.

    I do think it’s going to inflame tensions in the Mid East which is not where US interests are. US interests is stability, stability, stability.

    Why would Congress pass a law expecting the President to waive in perpetuity? The mind boggles.

  • US interests is stability, stability, stability.

    I’m largely in agreement with that.

  • PD Shaw

    The Jerusalem Embassy Act required the U.S. to move the embassy to Jerusalem by 1999 with over 90% of both houses of Congress voting in favor of it. The Presidents haven’t enforced the law because it interferes with their foreign policy prerogatives, meaning they think this is a chip to motivate the Palestinians to come to the table. Not working.

    Similarly, a 2002 law required American passports to show Jerusalem as part of Israel, which I assume was passed with overwhelming majorities, but Bush signed it with the understanding that it was advisory, not mandatory. When a passport sued for its enforcement, the SCOTUS struck down the law for interfering with the executive power of recognition.

    Arguably, the U.S. has already decided that Jerusalem is the Capitol of Israel and the embassy should be moved. These laws aren’t enforceable, however.

  • Andy

    Politically, I think it will put the nail in the coffin of the notion that the US is disinterested third party working toward a peaceful settlement.

    Peace prospects have always been and illusion and I don’t think that’s likely to change in the future.

    The effects of implementing this policy could be bad though – I could see it sparking a new round of intifada and more bloodletting. For what purpose? Pleasing the considerable number of domestic US pro-Israel elites (who,incidentally, never seem to have to worry about the Logan Act and FARA) and not much else IMO.

  • TastyBits

    You know it’s getting darned hard to write blog posts without defending Trump or appearing to defend him, something I don’t care to do.

    Perhaps, you chose the wrong side. Perhaps, the difference between President Trump and the righteous is that Trump is Trump, and what you see is what you get. The righteous are no better, and their righteousness is an illusion.

    Of course, I am probably wrong, and Harvey Weinstein, Sen. Franken, and Rep. Conyers are correctly admired for their moral propriety.

    Burn, baby, burn.

  • Perhaps, you chose the wrong side.

    I don’t choose sides. I support or oppose policies.

    I also don’t vote for candidates that I consider to be of low character. I don’t consider that to be choosing a side but standing up for a principle. My assessment was that major political presidential candidates the last time around were both low characters so I didn’t vote for either one of them. Illinois was by no means a battleground state so my choice didn’t affect the outcome.

  • Guarneri

    I’m not a Middle East policy analyst, but it escapes me as to why the argument doesn’t abruptly end with a sovereigns right to choose their own capital, and our duty to acknowledge that. I hardly think we would accept the notion that New York is our capitol rather than Washington if Israel or Iran declared it so.

  • Guarneri

    “I also don’t vote for candidates that I consider to be of low character.”

    What do you do with all your excess free time on election days……………?

  • The stated rationale is that both the Israelis and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem and that the U. S. wants to withhold recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol as a bargaining chip.

    That’s obviously failed and it has a manifest critical flaw but that’s been the U. S. policy for decades.

  • bob sykes

    Considering how unified all Muslims, both Shia and Sunni, are on the centrality of Jerusalem to their religion, will Trump’s act produce a united Muslim front in opposition to the West? Can Iran reconcile with Saudi Arabia? Can Turkey and Egypt turn their backs on us?

    I haven’t a clue. But something big just happened.

  • Considering how unified all Muslims, both Shia and Sunni, are on the centrality of Jerusalem to their religion

    That’s nonsense. Look at the contemporaneous accounts from the 19th century. The Arabs didn’t start caring about Jerusalem until after the Six Day War. And they don’t care about the Palestinians.

  • Andy

    “That’s nonsense. Look at the contemporaneous accounts from the 19th century. The Arabs didn’t start caring about Jerusalem until after the Six Day War. And they don’t care about the Palestinians.”

    They did care about it, but it wasn’t a concern until it was controlled by a hostile Jewish state.

  • They did care about it, but it wasn’t a concern until it was controlled by a hostile Jewish state.

    In the aftermath of World War II millions of Jews were expelled from Middle Eastern and North African countries. That wasn’t impelled by the creation of the state of Israel because it preceded the creation of the state of Israel..

    My interpretation of it is that it was part and parcel of the rise of Arab nationalism. Nasserism, the mid-century expression of that, basically collapsed after the Six Day War to be replaced by the Muslim fundamentalism we’re seeing now.

    The 19th century accounts from Muslim travellers describe a rundown, dilapidated, practically deserted country including Jerusalem. Yes, the Rothschilds started their Jews to Israel program back in the 19th century but it didn’t really catch on until after their expulsion from MENA and the creation of the state of Israel. This stuff is actually pretty well documented but there’s so much historical revisionism by everybody it’s hard to tell which end’s up.

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