Afghanistan

Expert Voices

U.S.–Iran standoff perpetuates flaws of decades-old policies

Mike Pompeo and John Bolton on stage behind Donald Trump, speaking at a lectern
President Trump at the July 2018 NATO summit with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Current U.S. policy toward Iran has deepened the Middle East's Sunni-Shia divide — embodied in the regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran — and risks repeating the failures of successive U.S. administrations.

Why it matters: American presidents have often tried to view the Middle East in overly black-and-white terms — from Reagan in Lebanon and Bush in Iraq to Obama’s dreams of Arab democracy. With this mindset still in play, the risks of economic harm and military escalation continue to mount.

Mayor Pete as commander-in-chief

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Chatting confidently about what he'd do as commander-in-chief, Pete Buttigieg told me for "Axios on HBO" that he "wouldn't put it past" President Trump to allow the border "to become worse in order to have it be a more divisive issue, so that he could benefit politically."

What he's saying: "The president needs this crisis to get worse, even though it makes a liar out of him," Buttigieg said at his campaign HQ in South Bend, Ind. "I don't think he's worried about that. ... I don't think he cares if it gets better. But he certainly doesn't benefit from comprehensively fixing the problem."