Marc Lynch
Marc Lynch was a nonresident senior fellow in Carnegie’s Middle East Program where his work focuses on the politics of the Arab world.
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Donald J. Trump’s election as the next President of the United States has thrown enormous doubt upon the continuity of American policy around the world. For the Middle East, Trump did not articulate a coherent policy during the campaign, but he has generally been highly critical of the Obama administration’s management of the region. Trump’s campaign sharply criticized the nuclear agreement with Iran, opposed intervention on behalf of rebels in Syria, criticized allies such as Saudi Arabia, and called for a ban on Muslim immigration to the United States. A Trump administration will undoubtedly adopt a very different stance on a wide range of issues from those familiar with eight years of the Obama administration. But while Trump presents an unusually high level of uncertainty, and his administration could do a remarkable amount of damage initially, he may find major changes more difficult to implement than he expects.

Trump articulated few coherent policy ideas about the Middle East during the campaign, but taken together his combination of orientations might be termed “belligerent minimalism.” He has criticized U.S. military interventions in the region and in particular has opposed U.S. intervention in Syria. He has labeled radical Islam the greatest threat to the United States, implying support both for greatly expanded counterterrorism operations and significant changes in the terms of engagement with Islamist movements. He is keen to work more closely with Israel and autocratic Arab regimes, while also belittling them in public and demanding they pay a greater share of the burden. He shows no interest in using presidential rhetoric to encourage democratic change, and likely cares nothing at all about (or at least sees no consequences of) popular anti-Americanism. Most critically, he shows no particular attachment to leadership of the Middle Eastern regional order, which has defined American policy for decades...

This article was originally published by the Washington Quarterly.

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