I am pretty sure that my readers know that I am not a huge fan of Donald Trump, particularly the current version of Trump the candidate or Trump the celebrity.
Still, I think Trump’s presidency from 2017-2021 is grossly underrated, particularly regarding his outstanding record in foreign policy achievements. As a Trump skeptic when he was running back int 2015 and 2016 I would never in a million years have expected him to be an outstanding president in foreign policy, but he was. Perhaps the best since Ronald Reagan, and certainly the best since George H.W. Bush.
Trump was absolutely hated by our European allies, and equally hated by our international adversaries. That created the illusion that Trump was a terrible foreign policy president. Generally speaking, when everybody hates you it is easy to assume that you are doing something wrong.
Yet Trump was hated because he was doing almost everything right. His advice to Europe was 100% correct: he insisted that Russia was the bad guy and that it was insane to trust Putin to maintain the flow of natural gas in a crisis. He was literally laughed at by the Germans, who every day regret their reliance on Russia for energy (in)security.
Further, Trump pushed European leaders to invest in their military power. How did their neglecting investing in military power work out for them? Trump, again, was right. And his failure to convince was no worse than under Obama or Bush.
Trump identified China and Iran as particularly important security threats, and…lo and behold…he was obviously correct. Obama and then Biden tied their futures to cozying up to Iran, and how has that worked out for them or for the Iranian people?
And, most obviously, Trump put enormous effort into bringing genuine peace to the the Middle East, and made the most significant progress in healing the rift between the Arab countries and the Israelis since the establishment of the state of Israel. Nobody has come close to the achievements that came under Trump’s leadership, and not one single MSM outlet or international organization has acknowledged that achievement in the slightest way.
All this came to mind for me with a single news story: Bibi Netanyahu’s visit to the United Arab Emirates this week. This was an event that would have been inconceivable just a few years ago. Netanyahu is perhaps the most hawkish PM in Israeli history, yet even before his government has been formed after the most recent election he was welcomed in an Arab country that would have been hurling insults at his country just a few years ago. Perhaps even hurling missiles should a conflict arise.
Trump did that. The Abraham Accords did that.
Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu told NBC Dec. 4, “I brought four historic peace treaties, in ways that defied everybody else’s prognostications. … I’m going to bring peace. Categorically. I think I can get another breakthrough for peace.”
In his interview last week with American journalist Bari Weiss on her Common Sense podcast, Netanyahu stressed his commitment to democratic rule and minority rights. The gist of his messages was that he will be in charge, personally charting the course of Israel’s foreign affairs and defense policies.
Busy with putting together his sixth government, Netanyahu is evidently also preoccupied with reassuring the international community over his Cabinet’s future policies. He keeps reminding everyone it was him who brought about the 2020 Abraham Accords with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, and the normalization of ties with Morocco and Sudan. More so, he is pledging to expand the Abraham Accords to more countries in the region.
Both Trump and Netanyahu are bête noires of the Elite, who hate both with a passion. Yet it is they, not the foreign policy mavens, who paved the way for the reconciliation of the Arab governments with Israel during the crucial 2017-2021 Trump presidency. It is they, not the “experts,” who achieved the goal that those selfsame “experts” claimed to want: peace in the Middle East.
Since the moment Jimmy Carter brought Sadat and Begin to Camp David every president has pursued peace in the Middle East. It is a goal that nobody has come close to achieving. Trump recognized that the Palestinians were not the key to peace, but the odd men out. Their interests lie in perpetual conflict; it is the basis of their power. So he ignored them and moved forward. Brilliant!
Every other Arab government was done with the Palestinians; they just needed an excuse to drop the losers and move on. And Iran, as the common enemy, was the excuse to do so. Trump allied the US with Israel and the Arab governments against the evil Iranian regime and viola!, the conflict was over.
Sure, the Palestinians didn’t come along for the ride, but the legitimacy of their government is based upon hate. They never will desire peace. Israel got peace with the entire Arab world but for the Palestinians and the Syrians. That is a very good deal, given that before Trump they were in a Cold War with the entire Arab world.
In a just world Trump would be lauded for his, or at least Jared Kushner’s genius in engineering this. We don’t live in a just world, so it will never happen.
But that doesn’t prevent those of us who are not inveterate Trump haters to recognize the accomplishment, and thank him for his service to world peace.
In this, he was amazing. We should all recognize that as we look in the rear view mirror at Trump’s fading political fortunes.