- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 26, 2019

ABU DHABI — Conventional wisdom around here holds that once the smoke clears from all the lightning, thunder and pyrotechnics of President Trump’s mighty thumb tweets, current foreign policy toward Iran is somehow remarkably similar to the previous administration’s.

“With the exception of the Iran nuclear deal — admittedly a big exception — Trump’s approach of working with allies against common enemies while reducing America’s military footprint is a continuation, not a repudiation, of Obama’s second-term foreign policy,” declared one noted foreign policy wag.

Admittedly a big exception?

That’s like saying an airplane and an aardvark are the same thing — except that one eats ants and the other can fly 300 people safely around the world.

Yet it is a theory you hear frequently among people watching President Trump’s efforts to wrangle threats to American interests in the Middle East and disentangle American troops and riches from the God-forsaken, eternal conflict here.

It is hard to pinpoint exactly what the motivation is behind pushing this ridiculously dishonest conventional wisdom.

Is it an effort to minimize the sea change in foreign policy ushered in by President Trump and carried out by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo?

Or, is it a reflexive attempt to somehow retrieve President Obama’s most heinous foreign policy legacies from the dustbin of history?

Either way, the theory is complete rubbish.

President Trump’s refreshing new America First foreign policy posture swept the world like a hurricane, gusting winds that blew the fetid stench of Obama’s failures far out to sea. The very eye of that hurricane was when Mr. Trump made good on his campaign promise to pull out of Mr. Obama’s disastrous Iran deal.

On the face of it, the deal was a stupid one. It was largely unenforceable. It did nothing to curtail Iran’s conventional weapons. It did nothing to stop Iran’s promotion of terrorism around the world. And, in the end, it provided a glide path for Iran to go nuclear as soon as the deal’s “sunset” provisions kicked in.

So, in return for basically nothing serious, the Obama administration lifted sanctions, gave the largest state sponsor of terror $1.7 billion — some $400 million in pallets of hard cash — and told them to carry on with their nuclear program after a brief respite.

If Woodrow Wilson gave us “peace without victory,” Obama gave us “surrender without peace.”

Mr. Pompeo made clear just what a sea change President Trump’s new foreign policies would be around the world in a speech he delivered earlier this year in Cairo.

Ten years before, President Obama delivered a speech in the very same city in which he apologized for all the ills America had cursed the world with, including the Internet.

He also — bizarrely — claimed that it was “part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”

When Mr. Pompeo took the Cairo stage a decade later, he sang a decidedly different tune.

Noting that “we’re all children of Abraham,” Mr. Pompeo told the audience that he kept a Bible open on his desk to remind him of God’s word, but also to remind him of “the truth.”

“It is a truth that isn’t often spoken in this part of the world, but because I’m a military man by training, I’ll be very blunt and direct today: America is a force for good in the Middle East.”

And in case anyone missed the sea change, he put a fine point on it.

“Remember,” Mr. Pompeo said. “It was here, here in this city, that another American stood before you. He told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from an ideology. He told you that 9/11 led my country to abandon its ideals, particularly in the Middle East. He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed, quote, “a new beginning,” end of quote.

Indeed, there came a “new beginning.” But it wasn’t until after Mr. Obama left office.

Contact Charles Hurt at [email protected] or on Twitter @charleshurt.

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