The Middle East Studies lecture series welcomed prominent commentator and professor Juan Cole to discuss President Donald Trump’s unpredictable policy making toward the Middle East Monday.
Cole, a prominent commentator on modern South Asia and Middle East and a professor of history at the University of Michigan, comparatively studies liberty and social justice issues between the western world and Middle East.
The U.S. has a long history combatting ISIS, Cole said. Since Trump has started his presidency, he has made a variety of unpredictable threats toward Syria.
But, Cole said, the “practical policy” would not change much from former President Barack Obama to Trump.
When ISIS quickly advanced during the Obama administration, the president intervened with equal speed, Cole said. Since ISIS established themselves as a state, Cole said they were “easy to target.” Obama’s intervention in Iraq was not for peace, rather it was to take control of the oil supply in the area.
In the Trump and Obama administrations, politicians looked to make money, Cole said. Officials in Washington, D.C., pressured Obama into the Syrian War to make money.
“The [U.S.’s] intervention in Iraq is most certainly for the control over the oil market,” Cole said.
Trump, Cole said, has used similar tactics. Trump’s approach to ISIS in his campaign included carpet bombing, taking leader’s families hostage, depriving the terrorist group of petroleum and committing troops to Syria, which Trump later denied saying.
Carpet bombing would hurt countless civilians, taking ISIS leader’s families hostage is unrealistic and depriving ISIS of petroleum has already been done, Cole said.
Trump has been “very inconsistent” with his statements, which makes him seem unpredictable and unprofessional, Cole said.
“Trump said a lot of things that didn’t make much sense,” Cole said. “Some people ask me to to analyze him, but it is difficult to analyze Trump’s policies because he seems to be somewhat erratic in his announcements.”