Donald Trump and his national security team have weakened virtually every aspect of American foreign policy over the past two years. U.S. bilateral relations with both Russia and China have worsened, driving Moscow and Beijing into their closest relationship in more than fifty years. U.S. standing in Europe, particularly with our central NATO allies, has been compromised as President Trump has embarrassed key allies in London, Paris, and Berlin. The recent bungling of political upheaval in Venezuela has made the United States a laughing stock throughout South America. Trump’s obsequious behavior toward Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu has alarmed the Arab states and made the possibility of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement even more remote.
Many American presidents have blundered in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, but Donald Trump’s personal involvement in the region has been particularly disastrous. President Eisenhower introduced the CIA to the world of covert action, when he ordered the overthrow of the legitimate government of Iran in 1953. President Reagan endorsed a U.S. troop presence in Lebanon in 1982 in order to pull Israeli chestnuts out of the fire there due to their war crimes in Beirut, offering proof to the Arab nations of Washington’s one-sided support for Israel. President George H.W. Bush went ahead with Desert Storm in 1991 although Soviet President Gorbachev had gained a commitment from Saddam Hussein to withdraw his forces from Kuwait. Worst of all, President George W. Bush used phony intelligence to justify an invasion of Iraq in 2003 that has created sixteen years of disarray throughout the region.
Last week, the New York Times did its best to rehabilitate CIA director Gina Haspel, who was one of the agency’s leading proponents and players in the unconscionable policy of torture and abuse in CIA’s secret prisons.
There is no more authoritative newspaper in the country, perhaps the world, than the New York Times. But when the Times gets it wrong, it is often a real doozy. In the 1930s, the Times’ man in Moscow, Walter Duranty, completely missed the Kremlin’s forced famine in the Ukraine that led to the death of six to seven million Ukrainians and Russians. Joseph Stalin’s KGB found Duranty to be a “useful idiot” in accepting Moscow’s denial of widespread famine and mass starvation. Incredibly, Duranty won a Pulitzer for his articles from the Soviet Union.