The New Normal

President Donald Trump is pushing back the bipartisan criticism that his Syria withdrawal is damaging U.S. credibility, betraying its Kurdish allies and opening the door for a resurgence of the ISIS. He touted a cease-fire agreement that seemed at risk as Turkey and Kurdish fighters differed over what it required and whether combat had halted.

“We’ve had tremendous success I think over the last couple of days,” Trump declared Friday. He added that “we’ve taken control of the oil in the Middle East” — a claim that seemed disconnected from any known development there.

He made the assertion twice Friday, but other present U.S. officials were unable to explain what he meant.  Condemnation of the administration’s policy is not just a bipartisan blast from both political parties.  It also seems to be the case with former and present US military members.   In a recent jab at Donald Trump, former US Secretary Mattis joked that he earned his stars on the battlefield while the Donald got his five bone spurs from a doctor.  Mattis is not the only former general who is speaking up.  Normally, conservative former flag officers measure their statements carefully. However, US military leaders find their troops in harms during Trump’s amateur hour and little else is to be expected.

Certainly, Trump’s “friends” in the region such as Bibi and Mohammed Bin Salman must their wetting their pants or their robes as suits them.  Are the Kurds the proverbial canaries in the coal mine?  This is probably not the case.  They are hundreds of kilometers from Israel and Saudi Arabia.  However, Trump’s amateurism has caused a political earthquake in the region.  The Kurds in Syria now are allied with the Assad regime.  Russian power is being shown.  ISIS is on the march again.  Even more disturbing for Bibi, he put all of his eggs in the Trump basket and they appear to be rotten.

As Israel scrambles to find an alternative policy and before Bibi jets off to Russia again, let’s go back into some real history to get real news.

There is good news and bad news for Israel. First, Israel is more important to the US than the Kurds who have been used and abused by four previous Republican administrations.  That’s the history in a nutshell.

However, what is the bad news?  As I have pointed out in a couple of previous posts, I am disturbed at how Trump’s foreign policy is motivated by enriching himself.  However, even more disturbing is the amateurishness of the Donald’s “policy.”  Right after he has screwed up Syria, Pompeo comes in to make excuses and the loyal son-in-law Jared flew in on the seventeenth to lecture Bibi and Gantz on the Palestinian situation.  Can it get more rich that this? Bibi and Gantz need to realize that this may finally be the bill for all of the American “friendship.”  At least we’re getting more warning than the Kurds had, but the signs are still there.  To quote that old Bob Dylan song, the times they are a changing.

Let me set out the new normal:  the US is on its way out of the region.  Nearly two decades of war have sapped the American economy.  Wall Street is great, but Main Street is dead in the water.  This is the price of war.  Two trillion dollars later and with no end in sight, the American people want normalcy.  That desire is bipartisan and this has been coming for awhile.  Don’t let Trump’s amateur hour take the focus off of this.

Russia, China and possibly even India will play larger roles in the region. It is time to focus on that reality if Israel is to survive, let alone thrive in the rest of this century.

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About the Author
Akiva ben Avraham is a former community college adjunct, US Army intelligence analyst and officer, and a caregiver.