08:31 GMT18 May 2021
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    President Trump eviscerated George W. Bush at a campaign event over the weekend, calling his invasion of Iraq "the single worst decision ever made," and sarcastically referring to the former president as a "real genius." Speaking to Sputnik, Middle East observer Rodney Wilson said Trump's remarks were a reminder of his own agenda in the region.

    At Saturday's fundraising event at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Trump criticized the US intelligence community's Iraq reports ahead of the US invasion, and said that going into Iraq amounted to "throwing a big fat brick into a hornet's nest."

    Speaking to Radio Sputnik, Dr. Wilson, professor emeritus of economics at Durham University and veteran Middle East expert, stressed that Trump's foreign policy approach is non-ideological, and can be boiled down to one key question.

    Sputnik: To what extent do you think the actions of previous administrations have formed President Trump's current agenda?

    Dr. Rodney Wilson: I think the big question which Trump would basically ask is – what's the benefit for America? And there was no benefit [to the Iraq invasion]. I think that would be his guide to future interventions. It would always be looking at what is good for America rather than trying to impose quasi-democratic governments on countries that don't want them.

    I think that basically he's looking at it very much from a nationalistic perspective, rather than an ideological perspective essentially, because that more or less sums up Trump. But I think that's fair enough. Clearly things have moved on, but the consequences of the invasion of Iraq still live on with us, and it was clearly a huge mistake that destabilized the whole region, not just Iraq.

    The good thing about Trump is that we know where he stands. He basically looks at American interests, he stands for his interests, he doesn't stand for other things, like trying to impose some kind of ideology on countries around the world. He's not interested in that.

    Sputnik: How much are Trump's Middle Eastern policies different from those of Bush? What's your take on Mr. Trump's deviations from his initial campaign pledges with regard to the region?

    Dr. Rodney Wilson: I think he's kept to his campaign pledges actually, because he did indicate that he would "Put America First," adopting this sort of policy. And that's why people voted for him, basically…Of course as far as the Middle East is concerned, the Americans are a bit involved in Syria, but not very much. They're not playing a lead role. In fact it's Russia that's playing much more of a role. 

    So I think in a sense, lessons have been learned from the Iraqi experience, and that won't be repeated again, certainly not under President Trump.

    Sputnik: Trump and Bush are both divisive figures in the US political scene. What's your take with regard to how history has judged Bush and how is Trump getting along at the moment?

    Dr. Rodney Wilson: He is clearly a very divisive figure. But at the end of the day, if there was a presidential election tomorrow…he could get re-elected, because his supporters think that he's basically doing what he said he would do, and he is! The issue is of course that many people don't like these policies. They don't like his approach, the lack of ideology and so on. 

    He's a very different president than Hillary Clinton would have been. But I'm not sure her approach would have been any better, and might have been worse…

    The views and opinions expressed by Dr. Rodney Wilson are those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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