In this installment of Weekend Conversations, PF Whalen of The Blue State Conservative and Parker Beauregard of The Last Best Hope examine the approach to Foreign Policy by President Trump and his administration. One of the big questions prior to the 2016 election was this – if elected, how will Donald J. Trump handle foreign affairs? Will he be an isolationist? Will he be hawkish? Will he alienate our allies? After almost four years, we now have a much clearer picture.
PF: I think Trump’s biggest mistake with his initial cabinet was bringing in Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State; an even bigger blunder that appointing Jeff Sessions as AG. He followed that up, however, with the best appointment of his administration with Mike Pompeo to replace Tillerson, and Robert O’Brien as National security adviser seems to be an excellent fit as well. It’s critical that a president has people with whom he aligns in those positions, and it’s clear he has.
As a result, I think Trump’s results in foreign policy accomplishments are the highlight of his administration. The new financial accountability for our allies in NATO and the hardline stances he’s taken with China are obvious successes. But the recent treaties between Israel and UAE and Bahrain may be the greatest diplomatic accomplishment by a U.S president since Reagan helped dismantle the USSR. Those aren’t just treaties, they’re practically alliances, and we are closer to true peace in the Middle East than we’ve been in centuries.
Parker: I know we ran into a problem with a laundry list of hypocrisies, and it might appear as if we have found another topic too long to commit just 1,500 words. One area that doesn’t get nearly enough credit is our abstinence from conflicts abroad. When was the last time an American president didn’t implicate U.S. forces in some deadly, costly, and unnecessary venture? Barack Obama, Mr. Nobel Peace Prize, found us tangled in more operations across Northern Africa and the Middle East than would fit on a page of the Washington Post. Of course, good luck getting them to print that. This isn’t to say that a commitment of troops is always a bad thing (see: World War II), but it has been hard to see how we benefited as a nation from sending kids to Libya or Syria.
Contrast that with Republican Donald Trump. And, we always knew politics dictated who won a Nobel Prize, but after establishing heretofore impossible relations among Jewish and Muslim Arab neighbors (twice!) how does Trump walk away empty handed? Remind me what Obama won for again? Being a black Democrat? Didn’t Jimmy Carter win an award for that after decades of tireless advocacy for peaceful solutions? So, help me understand: Two do-nothing Democrats accomplish zilch in the Middle East (other than inciting Palestinian hatred) and win one of the world’s most “prestigious” awards, while Donald Trump facilitates groundbreaking peace and is guffawed at by the elites. Yikes.
PF: Part of the reason they’re so dismissive of his accomplishments is that it makes all of the experts and pundits look like fools. They called Trump an idiot, along with Jared Kushner, and dismissed them as amateurs; then they pulled off these Israeli treaties. For the Left and their media to give Trump the credit he deserves would be to admit they’re knuckleheads… which they should. In addition to UAE and Bahrain, there are going to be others coming right behind them. We shouldn’t be surprised to see a country like Morocco, or Sudan, or even Saudi Arabia signing similar deals with Israel.
If nothing else, hopefully Trump’s success shows his opponents the proper way to deal with such situations. Peace through strength works. Trump didn’t accept the prevailing wisdom that all peace talks must revolve around Palestine. Trump moved our embassy to Jerusalem, as he promised. He dismissed the premise that Israel had to give up Gaza, or the Golan Heights, or the West Bank to accomplish peace. And then in January he took out Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. The key to peace in the Middle East was to establish the true root cause of the problems, and it has always been Iran, not Israel.
If Trump wins next month – and I pray he does – it will be fascinating to see how he handles North Korea. I think he has clearly set things up for solid progress with the way he’s leveraging things with China, it ought to be fun to watch.
Parker: Remember when Trump was going to start World War Three over his handling of North Korea? The peninsula has been amazingly quiet the past few years. No one even cared when Kim Jong-Un was reportedly dying, dead, got a new haircut, or whatever CNN tried to report. Under Trump, North Korea is a nonentity. I have a sneaking suspicion that the only reason they are back in the news is so that in the worrisome event a Biden-Harris ticket assumes the office, the media can play up excuses about North Korean rearming that happened under DJT. I don’t even think Kamala Harris would retaliate against nuclear aggression. In fact, she might say that the only solution to white supremacy is good old-fashioned fission. So that’s scary to think about.
We would also be remiss to mention Trump and foreign policy in the same sentence without at least circling back around Russia. An honest and curious media would be going bananas over the Clinton and Biden implications with regard to their Slavic collusion; alas, there is little that is honest or curious in the mainstream media. How does a play-by-play that cost the American public two years when Trump was accused of doing something get absolutely no headlines when the only thing that changed was the name Clinton? And, how does an impeachment process unfold for Trump even when Joe Biden bragged about strongarming Ukrainian officials? I honestly don’t understand at all. Seriously, am I missing something? Help me out, PF.
It is still laughable to think Democrats accused Trump of cozying up to Russia when you sift through buried historical records to find that Obama quite literally colluding with Prime Minister Medvedev in 2012 (“I’ll have more flexibility after the election”) and permitted international treaties to be violated when Putin walked into Crimea. Georgia and Ukraine didn’t stand a chance when the greatest superpower in the world bent over for Russia.
PF: No, you’re not missing anything; the double standard is breathtaking. The only two options we have for truly exposing this stuff is Congress and the Justice Department. The House is corrupt with Nancy as Speaker, and they’re just an arm of the Democrat Party rather than a Legislative Branch counterbalance. As for the Senate, they’ve had a few hearings, but seem otherwise disinterested; which leaves us with the Justice Department. I’m still optimistic that the Durham investigation will expose at least some of the nonsense regarding Spygate, but the rest of the corruption with Clinton/Biden/Russia/Ukraine may go unchecked. Disgraceful.
One of the talking points we keep hearing from Biden/Harris regarding foreign policy is “We need to be loyal to our friends.” Ironically, it seems clear that strengthening ties with our allies has been Trump’s biggest success internationally. Again, his handling of NATO has been terrific, and a long time coming. Europe has needed to ante up for a while now, and while they may not like Trump personally, that alliance is stronger because of him. Our ties with Israel have never been stronger and more mutually beneficial and replacing NAFTA with USMCA was perhaps his biggest accomplishment. Trump’s foreign policy with our allies has been fantastic.
Parker: It is hard to see how someone could have done better. It’s a remarkable administration, and history will judge it by that. I certainly hope the voters recognize this in November. How Trump interacts with international organizations highlights his wins. Whether it’s demanding Europe step up its NATO contributions, rightfully calling out the UN (which just added Cuba and China to its Human Rights Council) as a worthless entity, or renegotiating bogus trade deals on the continent and with China, he keeps winning. Perhaps nothing more starkly emphasizes his commitment to America compared to that of Democrats is the way he handled Iran and the $150 billion lunch-money stealing scheme that the Ayatollah ran against the feckless Obama.
What is amazing is that no amount of apology tours in 2009 made a difference, and yet Obama still wanted appeasement. Neville Chamberlain is blushing in his grave. Even the publication The Hill, not a friend to conservative values or truth all that often, commendably published a piece that included this line: “The cash payment authorized by Obama is one of the most disgraceful and shameful “negotiations” in the history of our nation. It was a payment the Obama White House first denied, then ignored and then grudgingly acknowledged.”