Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East
Forum and a prize-winning columnist.
Domestically, he appears in the New York
Sun and the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.
Abroad, he appears in Israel’s Jerusalem
Post, Italy’s L’Opinione, Spain’s La
Razón, the Australian, and Canada’s
Globe and Mail.

The Wall Street Journal calls Mr. Pipes “an
authoritative commentator on the Middle
East.” CBS Sunday Morning says he was
“years ahead of the curve in identifying
the threat of radical Islam.” “Unnoticed by
most Westerners,” he wrote for example
in 1995, “war has been unilaterally
declared on Europe and the United
States.” The Boston Globe states that “If
Pipes's admonitions had been heeded,
there might never have been a 9/11.”
Daniel Pipes

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Copyright © 2021  Barry M. Baker  
Daniel Pipes
Becoming a Police Officer
An Insider's Guide to a Career
in Law Enforcement
Predicting the Biden
Administration in the Middle
A conversation
by Michael Johns Jr. interviewer
Michael Johns: What are the most
significant day-one policy changes the
Biden administration will likely make
toward the Middle East?

Daniel Pipes: To answer, I refer back to
two basics: First, just as Trump came to
office with an intent to reverse Obama's
policies, so Biden intends to reverse
Trump's. Second, his near-half-century in
government makes Biden the very
personification of the Democratic
Establishment. In tandem, these two
insights lead me to predict an immediate
return to traditional and conventional
policies. As for day-one changes
concerning the Middle East: I doubt that
Biden can do much more than signal his
intentions via telephone calls to leaders
and issue executive orders. One E.O.
may permit emigration from the thirteen
hostile or chaotic countries that Trump
banned; the other may allow the
Palestinian Authority to re-open its
mission in Washington.

Q: Vice President Biden has signaled his
intention to return to President Obama's
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
(JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal. Will this

A: The answer depends in large part on a
factor beyond Biden's control, namely
Iran's internal politics, for the deal is as
contentious in Iran as in the United
States. The pragmatic Rouhani-Zarif
faction wants to bring the United States
back in; the ideological faction headed by
Khamene'i never liked the deal and wants
to charge a high price for re-engaging
(literally: it demands a hefty American
down-payment). Given these dynamics,
plus a more explicit lobbying effort in
Washington by the Sunni Arab states
than was the case in the Obama years, I
am inclined to think the U.S. government
will find it hard to reenter the JCPOA on
acceptable terms.

Q: How do you expect the Biden
administration to handle Iran's
aggressive actions beyond its borders,
especially in Iraq and the Persian Gulf?

A: Obama downplayed Iranian trespasses
in pursuit of an agreement; Biden may be
tempted to do likewise. That said,
developments over the past four years
will obstruct an easy return to the status
quo ante. Domestic opposition to Iran
has become a significant factor in Yemen,
Lebanon, and Iraq, while the Saudis and
others show greater determination to
oppose Tehran.

Q: How much will the recent cascade of
Arab-Israeli diplomatic normalization
reshape the Middle East?

A: Plenty. The shift in relations between
the Sunni Arab states and Israel has
been a long time in the making; after all,
the Abdullah Plan was unveiled in 2002,
while the last full-scale war between the
Arab states and Israel took place in 1973
(coincidentally, the same year Joe Biden
entered the Senate). Over the decades,
the Arab states have been increasingly
uneager to fight Israel and more prone to
deal with it, a trend pushed further along
by steep declines in energy prices in 2014
and 2020, the JCPOA, a growing anti-
Islamist mood, and Trump's urgings.
Unless something highly unexpected
takes place, this evolution should
continue. Israel already has formal
relations with 6 out of 22 members of
the Arab League; that number will likely

Q: Will those developments change the
way the Biden administration deals with
Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

A: Yes. The Biden team is inclined to give
Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian
Authority a veto over much of Middle
East diplomacy; it's that old chestnut,
linkage, the misbegotten notion that the
Arab-Israeli conflict drives the Middle
East, that progress everywhere requires
a Palestinian blessing. Generally speaking,
Arab state leaders have become
impatient with the PA's rejectionism and
do not want to be limited by it. Should
the White House meet with protestations
against discredited linkage from
Khartoum and maybe even Algiers, it will
have to reconsider its presuppositions.

Q: Will Biden have as difficult a
relationship with Prime Minister
Netanyahu as Obama did?

A: Yes; perhaps it will go a bit more
smoothly, but tensions will inevitably
predominate given the growing ranks of
anti-Zionists in the Democratic party and
Biden's own long-standing superior,
sanctimonious, and didactic attitude
toward the Jewish state. Here's a
paraphrase of a contemporaneous Israeli
report on Biden's meeting with then-
Prime Minister Golda Meir in 1973 that
requires only substituting Trump's name
for Nixon's almost to apply today: "Biden
criticized the Nixon administration for
being 'dragged by Israel,' complaining
that it was impossible to have a real
debate in the Senate about the Middle
East as senators were fearful of saying
things unpopular with Jewish voters."

Q: On Twitter last month, you gave
President Trump better marks on his
Middle East policy than Vice President
Biden except vis-à-vis Turkey, where you
rated Trump as "terrible" and Biden as
"good." Why so?

A: Trump gave a pass to Recep Tayyip
Erdoğan on every issue but a bizarrely
minor one (concerning Pastor Andrew
Brunson's detention). Some observers
tie this softness to Trump's financial
interests in Turkey, an interpretation he
himself – oddly – has encouraged. But I
see it more as an instance of a weird
tendency toward bromance with
dictators, including Vladimir Putin and Kim
Jong-un. In contrast, Biden is part of the
mainstream on this issue, dubbing
Erdoğan an "autocrat" and calling for a
range of tougher policies vis-à-vis Turkey
concerning such issues as Mediterranean
gas exploration, the Incirlik Air Base, and
the Kurds.

Q: Obama discouraged the democracy
movement against a hostile regime in
Iran and encouraged it against a friendly
one in Egypt; what was the calculus
behind that stance, and will we see a
reprise with Biden?

A: It's a classic instance of double
standard, of treating an enemy regime
gently in an effort to lure it and an ally
harshly because it gets under your skin.
Think Russia and Poland or China and
Taiwan. Obama staked his foreign policy
reputation on a deal with Iran and would
not let a pesky civil uprising get in his
way; he also had a distaste for Mubarak
and saw no reason to come to his aid. I
expect Biden to repeat this same
pattern, if somewhat less acutely.

Q: The Trump administration has just
announced the withdrawal of thousands
of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Are
these wise decisions?

A: No, they open the way to further
disruption in the two countries, countries
where the United States has lost
thousands of lives and invested trillions
of dollars. This abrupt, last-minute shift
probably results from Trump's sense that
he must keep his promise to end what he
calls America's "forever wars." But, given
the fact he will be a private citizen in a
few weeks, it is highly irresponsible for
him to start this major initiative so late in
his term.

Q: Where does it leave the incoming

A: It faces the unattractive choice of
accepting Trump's fait accompli or
undoing it. The latter will not be an easy
task, given how the withdrawal changes
attitudes in the foreign countries and in
the United States. In brief, Trump left a
stink bomb in the Resolute desk for his
There are Five
Indispensable Truths
for a Successful Police
Recommended reading for
those of you thinking
about becoming a Police
Accurate crime reporting is
so important on so many
levels.  It all begins with
you and your preliminary
police report.
As a police officer, you'll
be writing something
everyday of your police
career.  Everything you put
to writing, no matter how
seemingly inconsequential,
will be important.
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