After four years under President Donald Trump, not only has America avoided starting new wars, but no new wars have been started in the Middle East. Despite the domestic polarization, a true Pax Americana existed internationally. But now, with the possibility of a Biden presidency, we hear terrible warnings that the policies of the supposedly elected president could lead to a conflagration between Israel and Iran.
Israel’s Settlement Minister Tzachi Hanegbi warned the former vice president that any return to the Iran deal would lead to a conflict between his country and the Islamic Republic. Such a war would naturally attract the United States, the Arab Gulf nations and Iranian representatives throughout the region – and set fire to the Middle East.
I can hardly imagine Biden wanting to start his government in this way. But if he hopes to avoid this scenario, he should reconsider his support for a return to the Iran deal. Now, of course, it won’t be easy for Biden to reject the office of President Obama and maintain the policies of the president he has been campaigning against.
Fortunately Biden has created an escape route for himself.
During the election campaign, the candidate Joe Biden presented himself as a politician who was always looking for consensus and cooperation. In a time of polarization and partisanship, he vowed to engage with Republicans, to reach out beyond the aisle and to work together on matters of common American interest.
Biden could give some substance to all this talk of partisanship and avert a war if he continued the policies of his predecessor. This would be the right step. But it would also be the step of the people – and the opinions of the people of the Middle East on the ground prove this.
A recent survey conducted by Arab News and YouGov among some 3,000 people from the Middle East and North Africa shows that a majority of Arabs reject the legacy of President Obama and that a Biden administration would like a different approach for its region.
While it is true that more Arabs reported that they would prefer a Biden presidency to a second Trump term, President Trump was in line with the so-called Arab Strait in key policy approaches and decisions. Many Arabs, for example, consider Iran a major threat and advocate a tougher line from President Trump on Tehran.
Indeed, many supported the assassination of the Iranian terror mastermind Qassem Soleimani. Many experts on the left warned that Trump’s strike against the Revolutionary Guard commander was a dangerous mistake-their predictions about World War III circulated on the Internet. In reality, of course, practically nothing happened. President Trump allowed Iran a powerless gesture of retaliation. That was all.
A curbed Iran subsequently lowered its regional profile, underscoring a lesson that Biden – a historical warmonger who supported the disastrous invasion of Iraq, which Trump did not – would do well to learn from. President Trump did not shy away from using force when necessary to maintain peace.
But Trump did not (unlike Obama) intervene in existing conflicts – nor did he (unlike George W. Bush) directly start wars. While critics might dismiss Trump’s “America First” as rhetoric in search of a policy or as a short-sighted and ill-conceived approach, the record speaks for itself.
Not only have there been no new wars in the Middle East since Trump took office, ISIS has been smashed, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead, high-ranking al-Qaeda officials have been wiped out, and we are on the verge of exiting Afghanistan and America’s longest war. It took courage to take these steps.
Perhaps no more, as it turns out, than the decision to oversee an unprecedented and comprehensive realignment of regional forces so that Israel has achieved normalization with the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan. This would not have happened if President Trump Tehran had not made clear his zero tolerance policy towards terror.
Freed from fear of Iranian irredentism, peace has flourished throughout the region, and Arabs and Jews have come together in a way that not even Barack Obama could have achieved from Cairo with his much vaunted address to the Muslim world. This is the good news that a President Biden would inherit.
If he would do all this for a nostalgic adherence to a failed Phil