The thorough criticism that the US foreign policy received within the last four years can be seen as an essential contribution to the idea that the Trump Doctrine could be actually considered one of the arguably worst foreign policies in the history of the United States. As soon as Trump signed the renewed policy, he caused the global leadership of his country to collapse in favor of conservative populism that did not lead the US anywhere (Porter, 2018). Instead, it caused the international order to rebalance itself similarly to how it occurred to the institutional architecture of the post-WWII world, where the United States did not have as much influence over the Middle East. This outlook on Trump’s foreign policy makes it safe to say that the grand American strategy that was developed by preceding Presidents has ended due to the increasingly high number of outcomes that affected the United States either right away after the policy was signed or several years after its passing.
A Brief Analysis of the US Foreign Policy in the Middle East
One of the problems with the current foreign policy is that the US gave up on its frontrunner role in the region and slowly began ceding its leadership to other international actors. The lack of mediator power makes the United States an unwanted stakeholder in the region, and the Trump Doctrine is the key reason why the American apathy to the situation in the Middle East seemed to be so strong (Drezner, 2019). The current policy does not come close to participating in any controversial initiatives, nor does it recognize the need to preserve the previously held power in the region.
On the other hand, the US became rather inconsistent in terms of how it deals with external antagonistic behaviors. The Trump Doctrine, for some reason, allowed the retaliation against the use of chemical weapons and the changes in political regime in Syria, but the administration failed to follow up their actions with any kind of punitive measures to support their strong position on the topic of the vicious Syrian civil war (Porter, 2018). The intentions and practice seem not to coincide when it comes to the US presence in the Middle East, and that hints at how actually weak Trump’s attempts to intervene were compared to Obama’s, for example.
The third issue with the Trump Doctrine is that the country quickly developed the notion of democratic noninvolvement and started promoting egalitarian values without any relevant preceding reason. Accordingly, the country started engaging in exceptional arms sales in the Middle East that added to the refractory domestic authoritarianism in the region (Cox & Stokes, 2018). The transition that the Trump administration began in 2016 quickly sparked controversy, and it caused the country to lose most of its international respect in the geopolitical arena due to the shady transactions that disclosed the weapon trade-based relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia.
One of the most important issues with the Trump Doctrine was that it forced the country to rely on its allies to an unprecedented extent, with local actors having just as much impact on the political picture in the Middle East as the United States. The questionable support that the United Arab Emirates, Israel, and Egypt received from the Trump administration was somehow accompanied by the aggressive slash on the foreign aid intended for the Palestinian authorities (Drezner, 2019). Instead of taking responsibility for security in the region, Trump enthusiastically addressed the need to develop an Arab NATO while disliking the concept of conventional NATO at the same time.
The ultimate problem with the Trump Doctrine is that it could not provide any reasonable response to Iranian hassle. The aggressiveness that the Trump administration displayed when communicating in the Middle East turned out to be virtually impractical, as warfare in the Gulf would later occur nonetheless (Krieg, 2016). After reverting the nuclear deal signed in 2015, Trump went on to label Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, but to no avail, as that would be the only time when an American military institution would place its units in the Middle Eastern territory under Trump’s guidance.
There are several tendencies that could be identified as a result of a thorough analysis of Trump’s foreign policy in the Middle East. The first is that the Obama administration passed a policy that was easily overrun by the Trump Doctrine, leaving no room for saving the prevalent US paramount influence on the region. It means that there are practically no leaders in the Middle East nowadays that could threaten the US, and Trump decided to loosen the grip on the region at the end of the day. Another tendency that cannot be ignored is the lack of willingness in the American leaders to restore the incredible level of US interventionism, meaning that the Trump Doctrine could have been seen by other global leaders as a signing of the country’s helplessness. The key long-term implication of the current US foreign policy in the Middle East is that the American forces are gradually disconnecting from the region. As soon as the US loses its grip, this would have a momentous impact on the geopolitical terrain, as more specific local powers might get the opportunity to maneuver and overrun the previous establishments that had made the US a powerhouse of international politics in the Middle East.
Cox, M., & Stokes, D. (2018). US foreign policy. Oxford University Press.
Drezner, D. W. (2019). This time is different: Why US foreign policy will never recover. Foreign Affairs, 98, 10.
Krieg, A. (2016). Externalizing the burden of war: The Obama Doctrine and US foreign policy in the Middle East. International Affairs, 92(1), 97-113.
Porter, P. (2018). Why America’s grand strategy has not changed: Power, habit, and the US Foreign policy establishment. International Security, 42(04), 9-46.