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The Trump Doctrine
How To See It Clearly

Original article by Helios d'Alexandrie published on 21 October, 2019,


The armed conflict between Turkey and the Kurds has caused a flood of ink to flow and a flood of comments, not one of which has allowed the public to understand exactly what happened.

The reasons that led the Trump administration to withdraw the contingent of a thousand soldiers deployed in Syrian Kurdistan have been obscured. Instead, we deliberately chose to talk about poor judgment, thoughtless impulse or even worse, treason.


The voluntary blindness of experts

The virtual elimination of the Islamic Caliphate (DAESH) was not credited to Donald Trump. A "negligible" and conscientiously forgotten detail, none of the news providers bothered to report that by crushing said Caliphate Trump had once again kept his promise. To say that Trump is unloved in the newsrooms is a euphemism, abhorred or hated would be more accurate, and this abhorrence or hatred blurs the view of journalists, analysts and supposed experts. It is nevertheless sad to note that those whose code of ethics requires neutrality and objectivity have no other concern than to incite us to share their hatred.

Those among the "experts" who do not get caught up in the mainstream, but who choose to criticize the American President's strategic orientations, are certainly more credible. Without questioning their preferences, they leave the door open for discussion; it is to their credit, but their vision in the field of geopolitics does not take into account new realities. Like some generals, they struggle to fight the battles of the past.


The world is no longer what it used to be

The world has changed and change does continue, sometimes at a slower pace and sometimes at an accelerated pace.
The fall of the USSR produced a one-polar world with the United States of America as the only superpower, both economic and military. But this situation did not last long and it is to America's credit that it has allowed the emergence of competitors and has allowed Russia's return to the international scene. Globalization has been the determining factor in almost all changes, the most important of which is the emergence of China and the forced growth of its economy.

Other decisive changes have taken place, including the creation of the European Union, the emergence of new economic powers such as India and Brazil, the emergence of Islam as a conquering and bloody subversive ideology, and the mutation of Marxism and its incursion into the fields of culture and the environment, the emergence of a new ideology, globalism, hostile to nations, to their borders, to their identity, and whose alliance with Marxism and Islam aims to undermine the foundations of Western societies.

Western peoples have paid a heavy price for globalisation: relocations, de-industrialisation, falling wages and pensions, structural unemployment, instability, the stagnation of small towns in favour of large urban centres, uncontrolled immigration, culture shock, insecurity, terrorism, etc. In addition, cultural Marxism has been activated through the education system and the media to undermine traditional culture and values, thereby reducing the resilience of Western societies.

America has not escaped the misdeeds of globalization or the harmful effects of cultural Marxism. The Islamic attacks of 11 September 2001 led it to fight terrorism, which it did without, however, attacking the Islamic ideology that caused it. The result has been an indiscriminate expenditure of resources in asymmetric and interminable wars. The resulting exhaustion highlighted the limits of American power, as well as the shortcomings of the strategy put forward during the quarter century following the fall of the USSR.


A strategy adapted to the new realities

Long before he was elected, Donald Trump was aware of the difficulties and challenges he would face as the next president. Questioning or even denouncing the relocations, illegal immigration and armed interventionism of his predecessors has earned him the antipathy and even animosity of the political and media establishment. While revealing the mistakes of the past and their adverse effects on the nation, he did not fail to propose far-reaching reforms and drastic measures to correct the situation. In foreign policy, a new strategy was needed, which had to take into account the new realities. These can be summarized as follows:

1. The West's main opponent is not Putin's Russia, but China and its hegemonic ambitions.

2. The United States is now the world's largest producer of oil and natural gas. Their share of the world market will continue to grow, outperforming all other producers combined in terms of growth. The IEA (International Energy Agency based in Paris) forecasts for US production in 2030 are 32 million barrels of oil per day. Thanks to Trump, the United States will dominate the energy market in the coming decades. No one can ignore the strategic impact of this state of domination.

3. The United States is the main strategic player in the Persian Gulf region, where 30% of the world's oil is produced and shipped. From their naval bases and aircraft carriers, they control a large part of China's oil supply.

4. Europe is an economic giant but a strategic dwarf. It does not want to acquire military power in proportion to its size or to reduce its dependence on the American armed forces.

5. Based on past bad experiences, American citizens are more than reluctant to intervene militarily in foreign countries.

6. Regime changes and attempts to democratize Islamic countries have turned short; Arab springs have turned into Islamic winters with, in many cases, a return to dictatorship. Islam is now recognized as a major obstacle to democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and this situation will only worsen.

7. Globalization will continue but the globalist ideology is running out of steam. Nationalism is gaining ground everywhere: Eastern Europe, Greece, Italy, Austria, the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia, Brazil, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, etc.

8. Russia is an economic dwarf and a nuclear giant, but it does not have the scale of a superpower (a single aircraft carrier almost in ruins, few military bases abroad, a limited number of modern aircraft and a relatively small defence budget). Russia can play an important role in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia, but not on a global scale. Russia is also a Christian country and its culture is no stranger to that of the West.

9. India is a demographic giant and is about to be economically so. Sooner or later, it will have to face the challenge of a hegemonic China.


The American strategy is designed to reflect new and emerging realities. The implications are as follows:

1. The priority for the United States is to address the greatest challenge economically and strategically: China.

2. As self-sufficient and even net exporters of oil and gas, the United States no longer has a vital interest in the Middle East; but as a superpower it has a major strategic interest in protecting oil and liquefied natural gas flows; who controls the Persian Gulf has control over world affairs. That is why they must put an end to Iran's hegemonic ambitions.

3. The United States must stay well away from regional conflicts that have little or no long-term strategic importance. Regional conflicts in Islamic countries are numerous, complex, particularly bloody and endless, and should therefore be avoided unless they directly threaten the strategic interests of the United States.

4. America has no interest in maintaining tense relations with Russia. In concrete terms, it shares common objectives with Russia, namely the defeat of global jihad and the weakening of globalism.

5. Russia, as a former hegemonic superpower, is a threat to Eastern Europe, particularly the Baltic States, Poland and Ukraine. The risk of conflict can be reduced or can be eliminated by deterrence (military bases in Poland, sale of defensive weapons to Ukraine), economic sanctions and diplomacy.

6. Putin understands that the United States does not pose a threat to Russia and Trump also knows that Russia is not a threat to the United States. But a hegemonic China is a long-term threat to both Russia and the United States. Americans and Russians have no interest in maintaining their differences, it is more logical and profitable for them to cooperate, they must therefore put an end to their rivalry. Negotiations and mutual trust between leaders are essential.

7. The establishment of good relations and intensified cooperation with India also help to counterbalance China.

8. In pursuing its national interests, the United States must take into account the national interests of other countries, of allies and adversaries. For America, the objective is not to impose its will, but to find common grounds and compromises in order to strengthen cooperation with its allies and prevent long-term conflicts with adversaries.

9. The leverage effect of economic power is the preferred weapon in the event of conflict. The use of force of arms should only be used as a last resort and in self-defence.

10. Military power and economic power are indispensable auxiliaries to diplomacy: speak softly and hold a big stick.

11. The United States must never engage in a war if military victory cannot translate into decisive political gain.

All of the above constitutes what can be called the Trump doctrine, which aims to contain China and put an end to Iran's expansionism. As we can see, Trump is not isolationist, he is rather realistic and pragmatic, unlike other American politicians, he rejects the obsolete logic of the Cold War.


The master of the game

Trump successfully resisted pressure; the war in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf did not appeal to him. The pressure on him comes from the political class in Washington as well as from Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. He did not fall into the Turkish-Kurdish trap and refrained from bombing Iran in retaliation for its raid on Saudi oil installations. He was clever, because by withdrawing American soldiers from Syria, he forced the Kurds to turn to Assad and Russia. As a result, the conflict is changing its face, it is no longer between Turkey and the Kurds alone, but between Turkey and Syria and the Kurds together, supported by Russia. Tension is rising between Turkey and Russia and even between Turkey and Iran. The latter is not happy to see the Turks threatening Syria, which in their eyes is a satellite. Thus, the Turkish aggression against Syria (and not only against the Kurds) turns former "allies" (Russia, Turkey and Iran) into rivals. The winners in this game are Trump, Putin and Assad. Trump because he managed, without firing a shot, to break up the Russia-Turkey-Iran alliance, Putin because he became de facto the protector of Syria and Assad because he reclaimed all of Syria's territory. Iran is facing disabling economic sanctions: a weakened Iran is good news for Putin. Over time, Iran will continue to lose strength and Trump and Putin will free Syria from Iranian control.

Erdogan appears to be the big loser of the game. Its shock troops, composed of jihadist auxiliaries, encountered experienced and well-prepared Kurdish fighters. The military walk he had hoped for did not take place, the heroic resistance of the Kurds stopped the enemy's advance and even caused him to suffer setbacks. In addition to this humiliation, the American President, by imposing economic sanctions against Turkey, forced it to cease hostilities and sit at the negotiating table. Trump remains the master of the game.


The focus on Iran

Money is the lifeblood of the war and the Iranian mullahs, who are terribly short of it, are still running away. In doing so, they no longer manage to hide their intentions and prove Trump and Netanyahu absolutely right. Five years ago, Obama, in a monumental dupe market, gave the mullahs everything they needed to realize their hegemonic project, which includes the satellite-based fertile crescent (Iraq and Syria), the destruction of Israel, the destabilization of Yemen and the effective control of all oil production in the countries bordering the Persian Gulf.

But Iran does not only have regional ambitions and its imperialism is not only territorial and political, the religious dimension holds a prominent place there. The Shia mullahs position themselves as champions of all categories of Islam; to Muslims scattered everywhere they want to prove that they alone, motivated by an unshakable conviction and will, are able to make Islam triumph. Sunni jihadism uses firecrackers, while they seize territory, launch missiles and manufacture nuclear weapons. The war is not only fought on the ground, but more in the minds and hearts of Muslims; the proselytizing dimension is inseparable from Iranian imperialism.

By withdrawing from the nuclear agreement and imposing stifling sanctions, Trump sought to break the mullahs' momentum. But the latter did not hear it from this angle, rather than adjusting their war effort to the limited resources available, they chose to light the candle by both ends, hoping by doing so to strike a blow and turn the situation to their advantage. But everything they have done against Israel has failed miserably, their weapons depots and missile bases in Syria and Iraq have been systematically destroyed, in some cases just before the launch of the devices, hundreds of Iranian soldiers and technicians have been killed or injured in these operations. To the mullahs' suicidal stubbornness, the Israelis opposed the sniper's cold blood.

In an attempt to push Trump to retaliate with weapons, the mullahs have multiplied their provocations: sabotage of tankers, missile fire against an American drone and bombardment of oil installations in Saudi Arabia. Trump remained adamant and did not deviate from his initial plan to let the mullahs get agitated and waste all their cartridges. The lifting of sanctions is conditional on them abandoning their nuclear ambitions, stopping the production of medium and long-range missiles, withdrawing their support for Hamas and Hezbollah and permanently renouncing their imperialist project.

Trump's wait-and-see attitude has led him to harsh criticism: not reacting is an encouragement to Iran, leaving the initiative to the mullahs allows them to pursue their plan without obstacles. Trump did not flinch knowing that those who summon him to attack Iran will be the first to deplore the victims of the war and demand an end to hostilities. To the Saudis who asked him to react, Trump suggested that they do it themselves. To American politicians who demanded a military response, Trump reminded them that it is far easier to declare war than to end it.

However, Trump had every reason to be satisfied with the rest of the events: the destructive raid on Saudi oil installations proved that it is possible to cut Saudi Arabia's production by 50% without causing a significant increase in oil prices. The fact is that there is now an overabundance of oil thanks in part to the continued increase in American production. The Iranians thought they were hitting a big blow and they did it well, but the end result is to their disadvantage. They have demonstrated that the oil of the Persian Gulf, of which they are a part, has lost its importance, that it is possible to cut Iran's entire production and half that of Arabia without causing shocks in the world economy.

This incident confirms Trump's strategy. England, France and Germany have finally admitted Iran's responsibility in the raid and its willingness to harm the world economy. The mullahs' hawkish attitude has been counterproductive, insofar as it has helped to bring Europeans closer to the positions adopted by the United States. But Iran's aggression has also drawn attention to the risks of excessive dependence on Islamic oil, as industrialized countries are now being forced to diversify their sources of supply.

Trump waits patiently for the ripe fruit to fall off the tree. The strangulation of the Iranian economy weakens the mullahs' ability to continue the war on several fronts. Hezbollah militiamen, Iraqi militiamen, Houthi fighters and Palestinian jihadists do not risk their lives solely for the cause of Allah and the beautiful eyes of the Supreme Leader. We can already see the effects of the lack of money, the Lebanese are on the streets and demonstrating violently against their leaders, their economy starved by the oil monarchies, can no longer count on the generosity of the mullahs, Hezbollah militiamen have difficulty feeding their families, morale is at its lowest and no one in the circumstances is willing to sacrifice themselves for a lost cause.


Reunited Syria

In Syria Assad is out of danger, he owes his salvation mainly to Putin, but without Iran and Hezbollah he would never have held out so long. His good fortune has not abandoned him and he must consider himself lucky that Trump is not in favour of a regime change. As an unscrupulous dictator, he must follow the events in Lebanon with a worried eye, as he will probably no longer be able to rely on Hezbollah. Forget it, Trump gives him a pole, the Kurds have no choice but to join him and thanks to them he realizes the territorial unity of Syria. But he still has to rebuild his country, the ruined Iran has nothing to give him, Russia very little, the oil monarchies, they would gladly help him if he let Iran down. Assad is a shady nationalist, he owes a debt of gratitude to the Persians, but not to the point of playing satraps; he knows how to recognize a ship in perdition and has no desire to sink with it.

By making the reunification of Syria possible, Trump caused gnashing of his teeth even in his own camp. However, his decision is in line with the strategy and course of action he set for himself long before he was elected. Since the creation of a Kurdish state throughout Kurdistan is excluded, it is not appropriate to separate the Syrian Kurdish territory from Syria. Trump believes that the civil war has lasted long enough and that it is time to stop the destruction and bloodshed. Unlike Russia, the United States has only a marginal strategic interest in the Syrian conflict. After the annihilation of the Islamic caliphate, the presence of American soldiers in Syria is of no interest.


In conclusion

Those who, by an almost Pavlovian reflex, criticize Trump wrongly and through and through, condemn themselves to understand nothing about his foreign policy. As mentioned above, the American President is a pragmatic realist, ideology and prejudice have no place in his strategic orientations, reality alone has the right to be heard. Trump always plays to win, and to this end he uses all the power of the United States. However, to his credit, he shows great restraint when it comes to the use of weapons.

As a skilled strategist, he never tries to humiliate the opponent, because for him, any confrontation must end in an agreement. If he did everything to annihilate the Islamic Caliphate, it is because he understood that it represented absolute evil.

The best being the enemy of the good, he rejected the idea of overthrowing the regime of Assad, perhaps he recognized in the latter a combative nationalist who loves and protects his country, a leader who nevertheless inspires respect.

The mullahs of Iran have not finished tasting Trump's medicine, their fanaticism, their cruelty, and their desire for domination condemn them in advance. Unlike Assad, they do not love their country and even less the Iranians, the latter have the right to hope that Trump will emerge as the winner so that they can finally free themselves from their yoke.

Reproduction authorized with the following mention: © Hélios d'Alexandrie for




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