“Whom the gods would destroy, they first tempt to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
— Irving Kristol
WASHINGTON — The quixotic American pursuit of Middle East peace is a perennial. It invariably fails, yet every administration feels compelled to give it a try. The Trump administration is no different.
It will fail as well. To be sure, no great harm has, as yet, come from President Trump’s enthusiasm for what would be “the ultimate deal.” It will, however, distract and detract from remarkable progress being made elsewhere in the Middle East.
That progress began with Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia, the first of his presidency — an unmistakable declaration of a radical reorientation of U.S. policy in the region. Message: The appeasement of Iran is over.
Barack Obama’s tilt toward Iran in the great Muslim civil war between Shiite Iran and Sunni Arabs led by Saudi Arabia was his reach for Nixon-to-China glory. It ended ignominiously.
The idea that the nuclear deal would make Iran more moderate has proved spectacularly wrong, as demonstrated by its defiant ballistic missile launches, its indispensable support for the genocidal Assad regime in Syria, its backing of the Houthi insurgency in Yemen, its worldwide support for terrorism, its relentless anti-Americanism and commitment to the annihilation of Israel.
These aggressions were supposed to abate. They didn’t.
On the contrary, the cash payments and the lifting of economic sanctions — Tehran’s reward for the nuclear deal — have only given its geopolitical thrusts more power and reach.
The reversal has now begun. The first act was Trump’s Riyadh address to about 50 Muslim states signaling a wide Islamic alliance committed to resisting Iran and willing to cast its lot with the American side.
That was objective No.1. The other was to turn the Sunni powers against Sunni terrorism. The Islamic State is Sunni. Al-Qaeda is Sunni. Fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi. And…