Trump has a chance for a new MidEast policy shift

After the wasted and fruitless presisdency of Barack Obama, Donald Trump should seize the moment for a totally new approach to the MidEast, and Britain should do likewise

Not much left to destroy in Aleppo
Sir John Redwood MP
On 27 December 2016 10:02

One of the possible attractions of a Trump presidency is a change for the better in policy towards the Middle East. Mr Obama was disappointing. He promised a new approach based on diplomacy and peace seeking, only to revert to a clumsy and often ineffectual strategy of military intervention.

He promised withdrawal of troops but settled for increasing military activity for a limited period. His time in office was characterised by reluctant interventions, prevarications, and issuing threats which he did not carry out.

It made a bad situation worse. He came to see Russia as an adversary, but lost out  to Russia when it came to influencing events particularly in Syria.

Mr Trump has suggested doing business with Russia, accepting the power reality that Russia has important regional allies in the area and has a strong military presence in Syria buttressed by Iran.

It would be good if these two main powers could come to some agreement about what is best for Syria and the other troubled countries, and worked together to assist regional powers in returning more parts of the middle East to peace.

Until talking takes over from bombing we will face an ever plentiful supply of refugees and migrants seeking a better life. In turn, the loss of talent from these countries will make achieving  eventual economic recovery when peace is established that much more difficult.

Mr Trump’ s strategy of developing more US domestic energy will make the US less concerned about the energy resources of the region and place him in a stronger position globally.

I hope he will take advice to help reduce the arms race and the splitting of countries like Syria into ever more violent factions. We have had years of the war on terror, years of arming various groups that might become extreme themselves or might end up in alliance with or subjugated by extremists.

Supplying more and more weapons and training to more and more groups has not worked. Trying to find the perfect democratic model for government has often led to a breakdown in law and order instead.

It does look as if Mr Trump wants to effect major change in much of what US government does. He should start by looking at policy towards the middle East, which has been so unsuccessful for the last decade.

The UK too should understand the tectonic plates of world politics are shifting, and should reappraise its stance on Syria and the wider Middle east.

Mr. Redwood's writing is re-posted here by his kind permission. This and other articles are available at

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