On Tuesday, the mainstream news media exploded at the announcement that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the controversial travel ban that restricted entry of citizens from certain Muslim-majority nations. A key factor in what’s loosely known as the “Trump mandate,” the travel ban also serves another purpose: solidify our foreign policy.
That’s because we saw a second major news event yesterday. President Trump ordered all Iranian oil imports to cease by this coming November. The move wasn’t entirely unexpected as the former real-estate mogul has routinely criticized former President Barack Obama’s signing of the Iran nuclear deal. What was surprising was the all-or-nothing scope.
Iran is the world’s third-biggest supplier of crude oil.
As such, any foreign policy directed against the country has severe economic consequences. Certainly, our economy is improving, but it’s a delicate rally, given the unconvincing nature of the Dow Jones and other major indices.
Along with this latest execution of the Trump mandate, oil companies of U.S. allies announced that they will also cease Iranian imports. While these allied nations don’t necessarily have a direct political interest in the Iran nuclear deal, they can’t afford to anger Trump and risk economic sanctions.
Those who are hoping that the consequences of this new foreign policy will blow over will have to wait a while. Because President Trump recently attended a historic summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, he can’t afford to show any concessions, which he did with North Korea.
Just meeting with Kim gave the hermit nation international credibility, something that the dictator has long desired. The President made a calculated concession here, perhaps, but any other positive overtures to America’s perceived enemies will likely discredit the Trump mandate, even among his loyalists.
But that’s not including the thorny, geopolitical cinder-box between Shia-majority Iran and Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia. These two factions have long battled against the other, wrestling for control over the broader Islamic discourse.
Under “normal” foreign policy, the best practice is to not get overly involved in geopolitical conflicts. But the Trump mandate requires a black-white paradigm; therefore, we’re aligned with Saudi Arabia because reasons.
As such, Trump’s foreign policy went from a fierce opposition to the Iran nuclear deal to a double-edge insult: first, by aligning so closely with Iranian rival Saudi Arabia, and second, by insulting Iranians themselves.
Because within the restrictions of the Muslim ban are several countries, including Iran. But another country is conspicuously absent: Saudi Arabia. That’s just not going to go over well, and we may soon face an extended period of higher oil prices.