Last week, Foreign Policy published an article with the headline "Trump Has a Strategy for Destroying ISIS, and its Working". The author, Kori Schake, correctly describes the differences between the Trump administration's strategy and that of the Obama administration. However Schake comes to conclusions that these differences inherently make the new administration's strategy more efficient and effective, when in reality, many of the differences reflect potential flaws and downsides in the Trump administration's long term plan for the region.
"First, they are prioritizing speed." --Schake makes the argument that Trump's strategy of deploying more US force to end the battle against IS quickly (As opposed to Obama's reliance on slower, local forces) has an advantage in that it gives quicker relief to those suffering the humanitarian consequences of IS rule. However, he fails to address the problems this rapid progress causes -- mainly that Iraqi & Coalition forces could face having overextended lines and succumbing to insurgencies in the region again later on. Obama's strategy of relying on local forces was intended to ensure that this problem would not occur, and that Iraq would be able to stand on its own two feet once the conflict has ended.
"Second, they are committing the United States to a long-term involvement." -- Both Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford have stated that the United States now plans to maintain a troop presence in Iraq in the long term. The logic behind this being a good thing is that this would theoretically avoid a repeat of the events following the previous US withdrawal from Iraq (an armed group arising from a power vacuum and internal divisions). Yet the fact of the matter is that the United States cannot afford to stay in Iraq indefinitely. The Obama administration's strategy of slow but steady progress by local forces would've helped the Iraqi forces regain control of the territory without dragging the US into another long occupation, which could easily be turned into a propaganda tool by Islamist radicals citing 'another oppressive American occupation.'
"Third, they are clear about the priority being assisting the countries we want to win the wars now underway." -- Schake claims that ignoring the "authoritarian tendencies, civilian casualties, and domestic human rights records" of US allies is a good thing, as it allows the administration to focus on winning wars without destabilizing these countries. Yet encouraging the protection of human rights and democratization should never be considered counter to US interests, nor is it mutually exclusive with assisting allies in need. Propping up authoritarian dictators and ignoring their abuses only makes America hypocritical and hurts its soft power abroad by giving radicals a propaganda tool to use against America and its values.
"Fourth, they are laying the foundation for an anti-Iran coalition once the Islamic State problem has been solved." -- Such an aggressive policy against Iran only endangers the progress made by the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, and risks dragging the US further into the cold war between Saudi Arabia & Iran, something which the US has little interest in, and cannot afford. This by no means that Iran must be seen as an ally or friend to the US, but intentionally antagonizing a state with the potential to rapidly build a nuclear arsenal and which would be far harder to invade and occupy than Iraq and Afghanistan in case of a conflict is simply poor strategy.
Confusing the faster speed of the Trump offensive with improved progress is a recipe for disappointment. Obama's strategy had its flaws as well -- the slow pace of relief for the victims of IS occupation, for one. And while Trump's administration may provide relief to those people, it carries risks for the long term success of US interests in the region. For now, Trump's plan may seem efficient, but the full effects of it will not be seen for some time to come.