Trump: The American Netanyahu

On Iran and the Middle East, the Trump administration is following Israel’s playbook

by Marwan Bishara

Supporters of Donald Trump think of the US president as an exceptional one-of-a-kind force of nature – a sui generis leader. His detractors like to compare him to Russian President Vladimir Putin or describe him as a Putin stooge, and since he ordered the “vengeful” or “reckless” assassination of Iranian General Qassim Solemani, some have likened him to a Middle Eastern despot. But a more pertinent comparison lies elsewhere.

Since taking office in January 2017, Trump’s dramatic positions and pronouncements on the Middle East and beyond have shocked and dismayed much of the US foreign policy establishment, especially on three main challenges facing the US in the region: security, diplomacy and democracy and human rights.

Trump has not only undone much of his predecessor’s legacy, both domestically and internationally, he also trashed Barack Obama’s doctrine and policies in favour of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s. For the past three years, he has been re-coupling US and Israeli strategies, especially towards Iran and the global “war on terror” which Obama spent eight years decoupling.

This is not to say, Obama was not a staunch supporter of Israel and defender of its “security” or was not trigger happy with the US drone assassination programme. He certainly was. He just did not like Netanyahu and did not appreciate his deceit.

Obama tried to pursue an independent US policy free from Israel’s narrow constraints and considerations, after eight years of the Bush administration’s wars and blunders in the region.

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By contrast, Trump embraced all things Netanyahu as soon as he stepped into the White House.

It helped that the two men have far more in common than meets the eye.


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