In the first Daily Friend podcast of 2020, Marius Roodt, Gabriel Crouse and Sara Gon discuss the matric results, Middle East tensions and race in South African cricket.


  1. Trump’s foreign policy posture has been fairly consistent. First, America is not the global policeman and the days of nation building are over. American domestic interest and foreign affairs from that perspective – what do we get out if it – comes first. Instead the US supports strong regional bodies and allies and expect them to contribute their fair share. Second, the US posture under Trump has been one of signaling strength and negotiating / engaging on that basis. Even his domestic politics function basically in a similar manner of talking big and then negotiating smaller. Think back to even North Korea, when the regime weren’t playing along, they were threatened, when they were prepared to engage on American terms (or at least Trump’s) they were prepared to talk. Iran should be seen in a similar context. Trump has indicated on several occasions that he questions the continued American presence in the Middle East, especially in the context of occupation, nation building and long-term military operations – what does America get from it? At the same time they don’t want to leave a vacuum, leaving American target vulberable and want to strengthen American regional alliances. Iran and the US has been essentially in a covert / cold war for 40 years and Iran has been using proxies, intelligence and special forces to project and influence regional affairs. The message here is much simpler in this context – the US is not leaving the region to Iran as it is withdrawing and Iran has clear parameters of acceptable behavior – treating US interest like an embassy directly is not one of them. Like you said, the Iranians cannot afford to go to war with the US. Sanctions hurt the regime, but never as much as the people, but it is no really a deterrent for the type of stuff Iran is engaged in. So this is a much more direct message and the fact that Trump’s latest response was sanctions – really symbolic – underscores that this is all game of projecting regional power and interest. I would keep an eye on the Western alliance against Iran’s nuclear program including their relations with Iran; Syria, Yemen and Iraq developments; and the Straight and Hezbollah / proxies behaviour going forward. The way to understand this is basically Cold War style calculus of influencing just enough to avoid outright conflict between the main antagonist.


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