Joe Biden made clear he wants to put the old gang back together when he announced his prospective national security team this past week including the likes of John Kerry, Tony Blinken and Jake Sullivan. They represent the worst instincts and outcomes of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy of promoting endless wars while undermining allies and placating adversaries that the Trump Administration had to clean up. How do I know? I served as the Senior White House Advisor at the U.S. Department of State in the Trump administration, cleaning up the mess that the Obama-Biden administration left behind.
While the collective misjudgment of Kerry, Blinken, and Sullivan left many regions in shambles, in no place was that more evident than the Middle East. In January of 2017 ISIS controlled close to 20,000 square miles of the Mid-East, America was hamstrung on its ability to curb Iranian aggression because of the poorly-negotiated Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and the world was convinced to believe the progress towards peace between Israel and our Arab partners was just a pipe dream.
Immediately the Trump Administration took a different posture.
Military leaders on the ground were empowered to make the key decisions necessary to cut off military and financial support to ISIS. Instead of requesting permission for basic decisions like ammunition procurement (a complaint I heard about first-hand from high ranking Pentagon officials who noted Susan Rice’s personal sign off was required for even routine purchases), these military leaders were permitted to make the tactical decisions necessary with one singular goal in mind: dismantle and defeat ISIS. Additionally, we brought our allies around the world together to join this mission and expanded our scope to defeat ISIS in every corner, including the dark web by cutting off access to recruitment and training materials. As a result of decisions to bring a holistic and forceful approach to destroy ISIS, their reign of terror in the Middle East is now a thing of the past – if America remains vigilant.
The Kerry, Blinken, and Sullivan team also coddled Iran, bribing the regime in Tehran with pallets of cash to join the JCPOA. This did not stop Iran’s march to obtain a nuclear weapon and did absolutely nothing to curtail their continued support for para-military activity that targeted American and Israeli troops.
On the other hand, the Trump administration recognized that Iran remained the largest threat to stability in the region and united Israel with America’s Arab partners to counter Iranian aggression. This was codified recently in the recognition of diplomatic ties between Israel and United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Just last week it was reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, which would represent a significant step towards possible diplomatic recognition between their two nations. What unites all of these nations, which have long feuded? Their overarching desire to counter Iran.
Joe Biden’s prospective national security team represents the dangerous conventional group think of Washington D.C.’s foreign policy establishment and has the potential to undo this progress with their stated goals to re-engage in the disastrous JCPOA. Not only would it undermine American security and the pathway for stability in the Middle East, but it could erase remarkable progress towards long-standing peace between Israel and our Arab Partners.
John Kerry, Tony Blinken and Jake Sullivan are the architects for policies that weakened America, placated Iran and turned its back on Israel. We don’t need their poor decision making back in the driver’s seat of America’s foreign policy.
Matt Mowers served as Senior White House Advisor in the U.S. Department of State in the Trump Administration and was the 2020 Republican Nominee in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District