(Quin Hillyer, Liberty Headlines) Donald Trump’s handling of his trip to the Middle East has been sheer genius.
No, Trump’s diplomacy on this trip has been simplistic, verging on idiotic.
Analyses of this barely-begun trip have diverged about as starkly as do the views of Palestinians and Israelis on West Bank “settlements.”
Consider veteran foreign-policy guru Anthony Cordesman, writing Sunday in The Hill. He said that in Saudi Arabia, Trump “gave the right speech in the right place at the right time.” By focusing on the ravages that terrorism cases in the Arab world itself, along with emphasizing common cause with Arabs against the government of Iran, Trump (according to Cordesman) used “words that the vast majority of Muslims agree with, and ones that clearly rise above fear, prejudice, and isolationism. They are the values Muslims want in a strategic partner. They do not compromise any aspect of the fight against extremism and terrorism.”
Not exactly, harrumphed Robin Wright, author of books about Islamic culture, in a column in the New Yorker headlined “Trump’s simplistic strategy on jihadism.”
“Trump framed his counterterrorism policy,” Wright wrote, “in Let’s-Make-a-Deal terms: Washington will sell weaponry to the Arabs, which will in turn create defense-industry jobs in the United States.”
Wright complained about Trump’s “largely military approach to extremism” that would mean the U.S. has “largely abandoned notions of promoting political openings or addressing economic grievances that have fueled so much of the dissent and militancy, especially among Arab youth.”
Equally divergent were the official editorials of the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. The latter lamented Trump’s clear embrace of Arab Sunni states over Shiite nations: “Why the United States would want to tilt toward either side in the Sunni-Shiite divide is mystifying. These two sects have been at odds for centuries, with no signs of détente.” But the Journal praised Trump for “reviving the traditional U.S. alliance with the Sunni Arab states.”
The Saudis, wrote the Journal, “are imperfect allies, but they are linchpins of the U.S.-led order in the Middle East, and their assistance is essential to defeating Islamic State in Syria.”
From Great Britain, The Economist offered its usual “no strong position” analysis, but its tone toward Trump condescended nonetheless. While noting that his embrace of the Saudis amounted to “delighting his hosts, and fueling the sectarian divide within Islam,” the Brits did not say whether this approach would be good or bad – but they did write that Trump’s apparent boldness was “more style than substance” and was an attempt to jettison his own baggage, because Trump was “burdened by his own [record of] Islamophobic rhetoric.”
And that was just on Trump in Saudi Arabia. Already, the strong reactions are continuing as the president visits Israel. Plenty of observers blasted Trump for bringing up, unprompted, the reported leak of Israeli intelligence to Russia, with center-right Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin writing that “Trump’s error is so laughably horrible it left many observers shaking their heads…[T]he likelihood that allies will entrust classified material to this president is diminishing daily.”
But aside from that apparent flub, Israelis seemed happy with the visit. The Jerusalem Post seemed especially taken with the president, starting its editorial by proclaiming that “President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel is clearly a reflection of the deep connection he feels to the Jewish state.”
Stay tuned for the remaining five days of this trip, as the Trump world turns and as the world twists itself into knots over Trump.Click here for reuse options!
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