I think that NATO should be expanded and we should include the Middle East, absolutely,” US President Donald Trump told the reporters at the White House on January 10, after he first raised the idea to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg a day earlier, reported msn.com.
The US Treasury announced sanctions on eight senior Iranian officials and mining companies in response to Iran’s previous missile attacks on Iraqi military bases where US troops are garrisoned.
The two moves reflect the Trump administration’s Middle East strategy: withdraw from the region as soon as possible and use economic sanctions instead of military power, Sun Xingjie, deputy director of the Institute of International Relations, Jilin University, wrote for newspaper The Beijing News.
Trump proposed his “principled realism” foreign policy approach in May 2017 as part of his “America First” agenda, which includes not using military force to promote values. In line with its national security strategy as detailed in a 2017 report, the Trump administration has re-focused on competition between major countries, and started bringing its resources to the Asia-Pacific region. By calling on the NATO to include the Mideast, Trump is hoping to bring US forces back home, Sun said.
During the 20 years of the US’s war on terror, order in the region increasingly took the form as a game between the US and Iran, which Sun called “two countries with imperial impulses.”
The US shale gas revolution has made the country self-sufficient in energy and a net energy exporter for the first time in history, Sun wrote, noting this is another reason Trump wants to pull his country out of the Mideast.
Yet as Trump's retreat from Syria shows, it is much harder to end a war with dignity than to start a war, Sun argued.
Trump is calling for Europeans to shoulder responsibilities after the US has done so much for them, Sun said. Also, Europeans need energy from the Mideast, not the US, and an outdated NATO should expand its functions.
Trump’s latest proposal is putting “extreme pressure” on European allies so the US can get out of the game. But Sun argued that since the US had played a part in the Mideast turmoil, Europe is likely unwilling to follow Trump’s wishes.