The list of foreign policy blunders and failures in just three and a half years of the Donald Trump administration is remarkably long. But one of his first–the green light to the Saudis to try to isolate Qatar, physically and politically–is still festering. It’s an object lesson in how just a few foolish words from a U.S. president can have enormous effects.
We are generally inclined to try to repair the breach Trump caused. But the reason for doing that does not enjoy the same widespread agreement, and it makes a big difference. Is ending the blockade on Qatar a step toward uniting Arab forces against Iran, or is it a step toward easing tensions with the Islamic Republic and moving towards some kind of rapprochement in the region? The answer also determines whether, from a pro-peace standpoint, it’s even a desirable outcome. I explore at Responsible Statecraft.