Yesterday I wrote about President Trump not losing his focus on foreign policy after the failed endeavor to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. The world continues to turn, and there are dangerous actors seeking to collude and advance their own goals and aspirations. And there’s nothing like what happened last week Friday for President Trump and the GOP to provide cover. We must remain vigilant and understand that China is building up its maritime forces and continues to fortify the illegal manmade islands in the South China Sea.
And this week, two other belligerent adversarial states to America will meet to solidify their alliance and objectives.
As reported by the Washington Post, “As U.S. influence wanes across the Middle East, Iran and Russia have joined forces to expand their power in the region, strengthening political and diplomatic ties and stepping up joint military operations in Syria. In a sign of the closer relations, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is slated to travel Monday to Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is expected to be Rouhani’s last major trip before he faces reelection in May.
Together, the two countries have fought Syrian rebels, sidelined the United States from regional diplomacy and embraced each other as bulwarks against the West. In a meeting Tuesday, Putin and Rouhani are scheduled officially to discuss projects in areas such as energy, infrastructure and technology. Unofficially, however, the talks are likely to be dominated by their tacit alliance in the Middle East.
“The visit shows the importance that Russia has in Iranian foreign policy. For Russia, Iran is one of their most important political allies,” said Mohsen Milani, executive director of the Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies at the University of South Florida. Iran is “playing a key role in Putin’s longer-term strategy to become a major player in the Middle East,” said Milani.
Let’s be honest, this is a residual effect from the weak and feckless eight years of failing foreign policy under Barack Obama. It was Obama who gave billions of dollars to Iran, the number one state sponsor of Islamic terrorism in the world. It was also Obama who whispered in that famous off-mic moment to then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have more flexibility after his 2012 reelection, and we’ve witnessed the consequences of Obama’s flexibility.
However, with all that being non-debatable fact, it’s funny how no one talked about Obama being friendly to Russia and Iran. But the Trump administration must press on and rectify this situation and reestablish trust in American global policy — not an easy task.
My recommendation is this: President Trump should give our secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, new guidance, and that is to cancel the planned trip to Russia. Secretary Tillerson needs to shun the Kremlin, especially after this slap in the face, and announce he is attending the NATO foreign minister summit.
There must be a clear message sent to Vladimir Putin — and he’s someone who only understands strength, not rhetoric and certainly not tweets. One cannot assess Putin by his words, but rather by his actions. And for Putin to have Iranian leader Hasan Rouhani visit is very telling, and for me, it’s an indicator that we have no relations with Russia.
If Putin seeks to head down this path, my response would be clear, expel his diplomatic representation from American soil and recall our ambassador. The amount of American blood on the hands of Iran is unforgiving and the fact that we had a previous presidential administration that placated this terrorist state is unconscionable and unacceptable.
Towards Iran, President Trump needs to end the farce of the presidential agreement called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iranian nuclear deal. President Trump railed against this executive agreement, not a treaty, and as our new president, this agreement can be nullified, and should be.
We need to seek the restoration of sanctions against the Islamist terrorist regime in Tehran that is committing mass genocide and war crimes in Syria, along with Russia. It is Iran that is employing terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and the Quds Force in Syria against opposition to Bashar Assad, all under Russian air support. President Trump should authorize the engagement of any Iranian fast attack boats that threaten our U.S. Navy warships in the Persian Gulf open waters. And I recommend President Trump read and study Operation Praying Mantis by President Ronald Reagan.
If this action, a meeting between Putin and Rouhani, is allowed to go on as business as normal and we don’t take a firm stance, it will only embolden greater abhorrent and negative actions in the future from Iran, Russia, China, and North Korea. If Putin has decided to strengthen his relations with Iran, then it must be made clear that he’ll have no relations with the United States. If Secretary of State Tillerson proceeds with a visit to Russia, after the Iranian leader, it will look disrespectful. It’s best to cancel the trip and instead attend the NATO summit, and show the firm commitment to the security of Europe by the Trump administration in the face of Russian aggression.
New leaders are always tested, and this is not a book called “Art of the Deal.” I would offer to President Trump that he read Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” which is more relevant to this current degraded global security situation.
And then President Trump should read Machiavelli’s “The Prince.”