Michael Doran is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC. He specializes in Middle East security issues.
In the administration of President George W. Bush, Doran served in the White House as a senior director in the National Security Council,
Donald Trump has a well-articulated strategy toward Iran. Like almost every other Republican candidate for president in 2016, he argued that President Barack Obama empowered Iran at the expense of America’s traditional allies and its own vital interests. Trump has implemented instead a policy of containment.
When critics claim that his strategy lacks an “endgame,” they are really expressing nostalgia for the clarity of Obama’s vision. The Iranian regime, Obama told us, was moderating, it was willing to dispense with its ambitions to become a nuclear weapons state and was eager to stabilize the Middle East in cooperation with the West. Taken together, these trends inevitably led to an attractive endgame: strategic accommodation between Washington and Tehran.
This vision, however, was a mirage. Events in Syria during Obama’s administration gave us a preview of the true consequences of his strategy. Out of a misguided belief that recognition of Syria as an Iranian sphere of interest would transform Tehran into an agent of stability, he made no attempt to counter the provocative new moves that Iran and Hezbollah made to save the Assad regime.
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