Jon Huntsman President 2012


U.S. policy toward these nations should support the democratic aspirations of the Arab Spring while maintaining continued Middle East stability.


Middle East

The Middle East is a region of vital importance to the United States.  Many of America’s strategic interests, including combating terrorism, curtailing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, enhancing American energy security, and meeting the challenges posed by an increasingly dangerous and hostile Iran, are directly tied to the region.

Arab Spring
The Egyptians, Libyans, and Tunisians are to be commended for throwing off the yoke of authoritarian rule they have endured for decades. America now watches with great expectation as their Syrian brethren challenge Bashar Al-Assad’s brutal regime.

Yet, we should be cautious in our optimism about the future of such societies. History teaches that revolution does not, of its own force, ensure the emergence of functional democracy, and, for societies with little history of grassroots self-organization, the path to democratic governance will not be easy and will require the continued resolve of these populaces as well as the support of their interim governments.

U.S. policy toward these nations should support the democratic aspirations of the Arab Spring while maintaining continued Middle East stability. Ultimately, however, Americans should recognize the limitations on the United States’ ability to influence the final outcome in these societies, and U.S. policymakers should anticipate a variety of outcomes in these countries, including the possibility of the emergence of governments that are less receptive to U.S. interests than might be hoped, and plan for such contingencies accordingly.

The United States and Israel share a special bond rooted in history and solidified over more than five decades of partnership.  Israel is an ally, a fellow democracy, and shares many of America’s values and interests. Unfortunately, the U.S.-Israeli relationship has suffered under mismanagement by President Obama and both nations must now work to improve ties.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains one of the greatest foreign policy obstacles confronting the United States. The United States should redouble its efforts to broker a lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. Yet, we must ensure that our efforts to achieve such outcome are consistent with Israel’s security interests. 

Egypt has been a stalwart partner to the United States through its role in combating terrorism and supporting a stable Middle East, and the United States should maintain its policy of aid to Egypt. The United States should support an orderly transition to democratic government managed by the interim military-backed government, which offers the greatest protection against the emergence of a radical Islamic government in that country. That said, recent developments give reason for pause. The Egyptian military’s limited and delayed role in protecting the Israeli embassy, for instance, is cause for concern. Thus, as conditions in the country further develop, the United States should reassess and alter, as necessary, aid commitments to facilitate to the greatest extent possible 1) governmental reforms that guarantee fundamental rights and protections for the Egyptian citizenry necessary for sustainable democratic governance and 2) Egypt’s continued peaceful relations with Israel.

Iran poses a strategic challenge to the United States. In Iraq, Iran has worked to subvert progress toward stable, democratic rule and is responsible for the deaths of numerous American soldiers there. Iran has dealt ruthlessly with its citizens who have called for reform and continues to destabilize the Middle East through its support for Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations. Iran poses a significant threat to Israel and continues to develop its nuclear capabilities in defiance of the international community.

Middle East peace and stability will not be realized unless there is a fundamental change to the trajectory of Iran’s rise. A nuclear-armed Iran poses unacceptable risks to American interests. Robust sanctions, diplomatic pressure, and military deterrence must be continued in the near-term. However, the status quo must not be sustained over a longer period of time, lest the Iranian regime develop nuclear weapons capabilities as the international community stands by. The United States must work in partnership with serious members of the international community to ensure that Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons.

Like Iran, Syria has worked to subvert progress toward stable, democratic governance in Iraq and threatens both Israel and broader regional stability through its support of terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas. Syria continues to manipulate Lebanese politics in a manner that is both destabilizing for the region and that threatens Israel’s security interests. In partnership, Syria and Iran play the single greatest role in preventing Middle East peace and stability. While American engagement in Libyan uprising did not serve any major U.S. strategic interests, for the reasons articulated here, the United States should prepare to play a role, if necessary, in supporting Syrians’ aspirations for self-rule.


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