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Elephants in the Room

About Elephants in the Room

Elephants in the Room was a blog about U.S. foreign policy during the presidency of Donald Trump, written by Republican policymakers and experts outside the administration. It was curated by Peter D. Feaver and William Inboden. The blog was discontinued at the end of Trump’s presidency on Jan. 20, 2021. For new articles with a conservative perspective on U.S. foreign policy, read FP’s Shadow Government channel.

U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a memorandum reinstating sanctions on Iran after the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal at the White House in Washington on May 8, 2018.
U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a memorandum reinstating sanctions on Iran after the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal at the White House in Washington on May 8, 2018.

Why Biden’s Plan to Rejoin the Iran Deal Makes No Sense

This week’s escalation of tensions by Tehran looks like blackmail to force Biden to abandon sanctions—and give up leverage over the regime.

U.S. Capitol police officers point their guns at a door broken by pro-Trump extremists during a joint session of Congress in Washington, DC, on Jan. 6.
U.S. Capitol police officers point their guns at a door broken by pro-Trump extremists during a joint session of Congress in Washington, DC, on Jan. 6.

The Military Stayed Out of the Insurrection, but It Isn’t Over Yet

Trump failed because key Republicans backed down and the military stayed out—yet critical questions remain.

U.S. Capitol police officers point their guns at a door broken by pro-Trump extremists during a joint session of Congress in Washington, DC, on Jan. 6.
U.S. Capitol police officers point their guns at a door broken by pro-Trump extremists during a joint session of Congress in Washington, DC, on Jan. 6.

The Military Stayed Out of the Insurrection, but It Isn’t Over Yet

Trump failed because key Republicans backed down and the military stayed out—yet critical questions remain.

The U.S. and Moroccan and flags beside a State Department-authorized map of Morocco, including disputed Western Sahara, in Rabat on Dec. 12.
The U.S. and Moroccan and flags beside a State Department-authorized map of Morocco, including disputed Western Sahara, in Rabat on Dec. 12.

Biden Must Reverse Course on Western Sahara

Trump’s recognition of Moroccan sovereignty dangerously undermines decades of carefully crafted U.S. policy.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his way to a meeting with Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia in Algiers on Dec. 2, 2018.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his way to a meeting with Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia in Algiers on Dec. 2, 2018.

Note to Mohammed bin Salman: Stop Digging Yourself Deeper

The Saudis need to get on Biden’s good side. Obvious places to start include releasing women’s rights activists.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden after receiving a briefing from the COVID-19 transition advisory board in Wilmington, Delaware, on Nov. 9.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden after receiving a briefing from the COVID-19 transition advisory board in Wilmington, Delaware, on Nov. 9.

The National Security Risks of Trump’s Temper Tantrum

Refusing to concede and start the transition creates mostly hindrances, not disasters. But on key issues, obstructing Biden puts America in danger.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump, and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan at the signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House in Washington, DC, on Sept. 15.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump, and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan at the signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House in Washington, DC, on Sept. 15.

Trump’s Parting Gift to Biden: A More Stable Middle East

He was successful because only an iconoclastic president could have rejected false assumptions and failed strategies.

Dan Moss, of the National Potato Council, shortly before joining U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, DC, on May 23, 2019.
Dan Moss, of the National Potato Council, shortly before joining U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, DC, on May 23, 2019.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump talk at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' summit in Danang, Vietnam, on Nov. 11, 2017.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump talk at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' summit in Danang, Vietnam, on Nov. 11, 2017.
A Sudanese man holds bags to build a barricade amid flood waters in Tuti island, where the Blue and White Nile merge between the twin cities of Khartoum and Omdurman, on Sept. 3.
A Sudanese man holds bags to build a barricade amid flood waters in Tuti island, where the Blue and White Nile merge between the twin cities of Khartoum and Omdurman, on Sept. 3.
Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump, and Foreign Affairs Minister of the United Arab Emirates Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan participate in the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords on the South Lawn of the White House on Sept. 15.
Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump, and Foreign Affairs Minister of the United Arab Emirates Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan participate in the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords on the South Lawn of the White House on Sept. 15.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on Jan. 27, 2017.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on Jan. 27, 2017.
White House Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway pre-records her address to the Republican National Convention in the empty Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC, on Aug. 26.
White House Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway pre-records her address to the Republican National Convention in the empty Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC, on Aug. 26.
U.S. President Donald Trump pauses during a press briefing at the White House, in Washington, DC on Aug. 19.
U.S. President Donald Trump pauses during a press briefing at the White House, in Washington, DC on Aug. 19.
Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event in Wilmington, Delaware on July 28.
Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event in Wilmington, Delaware on July 28.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks at a UN Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters in New York on Feb. 26.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks at a UN Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters in New York on Feb. 26.
Headlines of the UAE-based The National and Gulf News newspapers reflect the agreement between the UAE and Israel to normalize relations, in Dubai on Aug. 14.
Headlines of the UAE-based The National and Gulf News newspapers reflect the agreement between the UAE and Israel to normalize relations, in Dubai on Aug. 14.
Taiwanese sailors on the deck of a supply ship after taking part in military drills at the Tsoying naval base in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, on Jan. 31, 2018.
Taiwanese sailors on the deck of a supply ship after taking part in military drills at the Tsoying naval base in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, on Jan. 31, 2018.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu points at a map of the Jordan Valley in Ramat Gan, on Sept. 10, 2019.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu points at a map of the Jordan Valley in Ramat Gan, on Sept. 10, 2019.

Galleries

Protesters—many of them armed—try to enter the Michigan House of Representatives chamber and are stopped by state police during a protest April 30 demanding that businesses be reopened. An “American Patriot Rally” organized by Michigan United for Liberty was held earlier in the day on the steps of the state Capitol in Lansing. JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images
Protesters—many of them armed—try to enter the Michigan House of Representatives chamber and are stopped by state police during a protest April 30 demanding that businesses be reopened. An “American Patriot Rally” organized by Michigan United for Liberty was held earlier in the day on the steps of the state Capitol in Lansing. JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images

The Week in World Photos

Global protests against government-imposed lockdowns, gang violence in El Salvador, and hat tips to medical staff.

Muslims offer prayers on April 23, the first night of Ramadan, in Bireuen, Indonesia. AMANDA JUFRIAN/AFP via Getty Images
Muslims offer prayers on April 23, the first night of Ramadan, in Bireuen, Indonesia. AMANDA JUFRIAN/AFP via Getty Images

The Week in World Photos

A prayerful start to Ramadan, medical workers on the front lines of a pandemic, and the annual Lyrids meteor shower.

In the Magazine

In the Magazine

foreign-policy-magazine-cover-coronavirus-globalization-spring-2020
foreign-policy-magazine-cover-coronavirus-globalization-spring-2020
deglobalization-localization-lego-globe-ben-fearnley
deglobalization-localization-lego-globe-ben-fearnley

How to Save Global Capitalism From Itself

Decentralizing decision-making can help left-behind regions get back on track.

brexit-deglobalization-brian-stauffer-illustration
brexit-deglobalization-brian-stauffer-illustration

Britain’s Post-Brexit Identity Crisis

Boris Johnson has contradictory ideas for his country’s future—and no clear paths for getting there.

The Ugly End of Chimerica

The coronavirus pandemic has turned a conscious uncoupling into a messy breakup.

The 3 Most Polarizing Words in India

“Jai Shri Ram” was meant to be a celebration of a Hindu deity. But the phrase is turning into hate speech—and a dog whistle for attacks on Muslims.

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