independent news and opnion

Trump the Dove, Bolton and McKenzie the Hawks?: The Politics Daily

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After nearly two months of rising tensions, U.S. policy has reached an impasse: Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign of increased sanctions and small, steady troop buildups hasn’t yet pressured Iran to yield.

Will Iran continue to test America’s patience? And will Trump continue to test his advisers’ limits? One remaining option is diplomacy. But “when and if Tehran is ready to talk, the differences between Trump and [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei present further obstacles,” argues Karim Sadjadpour. A darker reality is there might not be a way back to the negotiating table at all. [link to kathy/uri’s piece when it’s up]

—Gabby Deutch

🗓 The Week Ahead in National Security

Monday, June 24: Mike Pompeo begins a six-day trip to Asia. He’ll stop in India and Sri Lanka, then meet Trump at the G20 summit in Japan and travel with the president to South Korea.

Tuesday, June 25: The U.S. and Bahrain host the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop, the first step of Jared Kushner’s proposed Middle East peace plan. (Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians will be present.) Kori Schake argues that using “prosperity as a shiny object to distract Palestinians while their political aspirations are swept away” is “un-American.”

Wednesday, June 26: The United Nations charter was signed by 50 nations in San Francisco on this day in 1945. Last fall, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told The Atlantic that he thinks American global power is in decline.

At tonight’s first round of Democratic debates, watch for whether any of the candidates vying to take on Trump put forth a vision of America’s role in the world.

Thursday, June 27: On this day in 1950, the U.S. entered the Korean War. North Korea and South Korea never signed a peace treaty.

Friday, June 28: Trump attends the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, where he plans to meet with Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, along with officials from more traditional American allies like Britain and France.


U.S. Marines walk past Marine jets at a Saudi airbase in 1990 during the Gulf War.

Marines walk past Marine jets at a Saudi airbase in 1990 during the Gulf War. (David Longstreath / AP)

What arms sales to the Gulf actually do: The Republican-led Senate voted Thursday to block billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The House is expected to follow, though Trump will likely veto the legislation. The vote is a victory for human-rights advocates.

Since the sales are almost sure to continue, it bears asking: Why does Washington keep doing this? Do arms sales actually work? Andrew Exum, who served as assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy in the Obama administration, says no—the arms sales are a failure because America’s Gulf partners can’t help Washington in the way it wants. The goal of these sales, Exum argues, is “to build military capacity among our partners in the Gulf.” But their militaries are weak, so they rely on American assistance, while American attention is elsewhere.

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