Show an ad over header. AMP

Ro Khanna accuses Biden of quitting on Middle East, says Obama "strove for greatness"

An outspoken progressive Democrat is wary of President Biden’s approach to the Middle East, arguing it’s like “conceding defeat of the aspiration” to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Why it matters: A number of members of Biden’s own party dislike his Middle East strategy, as his administration signals the region is no longer the priority it was for President Obama and his predecessors.


  • “Obama strove for greatness,” California Democrat Rep. Ro Khanna told Axios. “He, at least, tried."
  • Khanna, 44, backed Sen. Bernie Sanders for president and has worked with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to enact a non-interventionist foreign policy.

Khanna has criticized Biden for not imposing sanctions on Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, after intelligence showed he was responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

  • In a five-point plan shared exclusively with Axios, he suggests the administration withdraw all remaining U.S. forces in Iraq. He favors striking a multilateral agreement with regional partners to prevent ISIS from retaking territory.
  • He's also joined Democrats in criticizing the administration for a recent airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to Iran-backed militia groups.
  • Khanna proposes announcing additional resources for security and stability, including aid and development.
  • And Khanna’s plan effectively asks other regional players to increase their presence in the region as the United States withdraws.

But, but, but: Other major players in the region often have very different views about how to maintain stability.

  • When the U.S. pulled back from Syria under Donald Trump, it was Russia and Turkey — two countries with whom the U.S. has difficult relations — that filled the void.

Flashback: Obama withdrew U.S. military forces from Iraq by 2011, after which sectarian tensions and a weak Iraqi state created a ripe environment for the formation of ISIS.

  • This necessitated another American-led intervention in the region in 2014 — a move Khanna supported.
  • Biden told congressional leaders in a letter Saturday his Syria strike last week was consistent with the U.S. right of self-defense.
  • The White House declined to comment on Khanna's suggestions.

The Biden administration has made clear in recent moves it intends to refocus on what it sees as more pressing issues.

  • During his first foreign policy address, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the United States’ relationship with China the "biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century."
  • While acknowledging other nations present their own challenges, Blinken noted China's ability to destabilize the international system.
  • Biden didn’t call Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu until almost a month into his term.

The bottom line: As Axios’ Barak Ravid reported from Tel Aviv, U.S. presidents have for decades arrived in office hoping to reach a historic peace deal.

  • Biden doesn't see that as achievable under the current circumstances.

European soccer goes to war over wealthy clubs' plans for exclusive "Super League"

Europe's biggest soccer clubs have established The Super League, a new midweek tournament that would compete with — and threaten the very existence of — the Champions League.

Why it matters: This new league, set to start in 2023, "would bring about the most significant restructuring of elite European soccer since the 1950s, and could herald the largest transfer of wealth to a small set of teams in modern sports history," writes NYT's Tariq Panja.

Keep reading... Show less

81% of S&P 500 companies have reported a positive earnings surprise for Q1

First-quarter earnings so far have been very strong, outpacing even the rosy expectations from Wall Street and that's a trend that's expected to continue for all of 2021. S&P 500 companies are on pace for one of the best quarters of positive earnings surprises on record, according to FactSet.

Why it matters: The results show that not only has the earnings recession ended for U.S. companies, but firms are performing better than expected and the economy may be justifying all the hype.

Keep reading... Show less

NASA's Mars helicopter takes flight as first aircraft piloted on another planet

NASA successfully piloted the Ingenuity Mars helicopter for its first experimental flight on Monday, briefly hopping the aircraft as NASA's Perseverance rover collected data.

Why it matters: Ingenuity's short flight marks the first time a human-built aircraft has flown on a world other than Earth, opening the door to new means of exploring planets far from our own.

Keep reading... Show less

All U.S. adults now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine, meeting Biden's April 19 deadline

All 50 U.S. states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, have now made U.S. adults over the age of 16 eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, meeting President Biden's April 19 deadline.

Why it matters: The landmark speaks to the increased pace of the national vaccination campaign, but will increase pressure on the federal government, states and pharmaceutical companies to provide adequate vaccine supply and logistics.

Keep reading... Show less

Minneapolis braces for a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial

Minneapolis is waking up to images of an occupied city on Monday, as the city and the world await a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial.

What it's like: Residents running errands, picking up dinner and heading to the dog park in recent days encountered heavily-armed National Guard troops stationed throughout the city.

Keep reading... Show less

Russian authorities say jailed opposition leader Navalny has been transferred to hospital

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been hospitalized, one day after his doctor warned that the jailed Putin critic "could die at any moment," Russia's prison service said Monday.

Why it matters: News that Navalny's condition had severely deteriorated on the third week of a hunger strike prompted outrage from his supporters and international demands for Russia to provide him with immediate medical treatment.

Keep reading... Show less

The state worst hit by the pandemic

Data: Hamilton Place Strategies; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, the job facing governments was to save lives and save jobs. Very few states did well on both measures, while New York, almost uniquely, did particularly badly on both.

Why it matters: The jury is still out on whether there was a trade-off between the dual imperatives; a new analysis from Hamilton Place Strategies shows no clear correlation between the two.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden confronts eroded credibility on climate action and Paris agreement

The biggest hurdle for President Biden in winning new emissions reduction commitments at this week's White House summit is America's on-again, off-again history of climate change efforts.

Why it matters: The global community is off course to meet the temperature targets contained in the Paris Climate Agreement. The White House wants the summit Thursday and Friday to begin to change that.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories