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.

Trump administration requested funds to cover Taliban travel costs

Taliban commanders in 2011. Photo: Majid Saeedi/Getty Images

The Trump administration requested funds from Congress to cover travel costs for Taliban representatives attending peace talks, Roll Call's John Donnelly reports.

Why it matters: Kevin Spicer, spokesman for Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), told Roll Call that such funding would mean providing "material support to terrorists" and a group carrying out "ongoing offensive operations against U.S. service members" and abuses against Afghans. As such, it was not included in the Defense spending bill approved Wednesday by the Defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, which Visclosky chairs.