usmiddleeastrelations

Political Science professor Ian Lustick discussed hot topics in foreign policy such as the relationships between the U.S. and Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia.

Photo: Idil Demirdag / The Daily Pennsylvanian

Students gathered in Perry World House Tuesday to listen to Political Science professor Ian Lustick and International Relations lecturer Samuel Helfont share their views on Donald Trump’s policy toward the Middle East at an event organized by the Government and Politics Association.

They discussed his recent executive orders limiting immigration, American relations with Saudi Arabia, Israel and Iran, terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Both professors agreed that Trump’s executive orders restricting immigration are poor solutions to prevent terrorism. Lustick said the travel ban “decredibilizes the commitments that our people will be trying to make to recruit help.”

“Unless there is a political reorganization in place,” Helfont added, “we will see some other sort of [the Islamic State group] in three or four years.”

The professors also discussed Trump’s recently released budget proposal, which includes budget cuts for the United States State Department and other foreign policy programs. Lustick called this budget cut “irrational.”

The funding cuts are “going to leave tactics with no strategy,” Helfont said. He said the ideal course of action would “work with the local actors to build security.”

College sophomore Whitney Stewart, president of the Government and Politics Association, said the discussion was organized because of the potential for significant change in U.S. foreign policy under Trump.

In the question and answer portion of the event, some students expressed frustrations with the intentions and actions of the U.S. government.

There are people in the government and military who “care deeply about these countries” and what happens to them, Lustick said in response to one of these questions, but added that some conflicts are not currently possible to solve.

Lustick said he does not foresee progress toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the near future.

“We have this so-called Nash equilibrium, where everyone — all the players are trapped on a local maximum, and it won’t get off it,” he said.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly quoted Political Science professor Ian Lustick's comments about resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He did say "players are trapped on a global maximum," he said they were trapped on "a local maximum." The DP regrets the error.

All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.