When it comes to new stuff to write, President Trump rarely fails to disappoint and is why I write this latest chapter in the Trumpwatch saga so soon after the last one. So much is happening and it is hard to take it all in without making this a full time occupation, but I will at least try to present what I see as some of the highlights.
The main item is his whistle stop world tour and it is quite apparent depending which news outlet one follows it was either a resounding success or a dismal failure. I tend to the former view (as those who follow my blogs might expect) but not without some cringe worthy moments. The one that sticks out for me is Trump pushing away the Nato chief, in typical alpha male fashion, to be centre of attention, but then to be fair he probably sensed his European counterparts were looking for opportunities to belittle, undermine and put him to one side, and as leader of the free world he was having nothing of it.
The timing of the trip was interesting. It was his first as President and it was over 100 days into his presidency and at a time the heat directed toward him wanting him to be put away could be felt here. And no half measures; no cosy trips to his near neighbours but rather to where in his opinion (and I concur) where action is focused and where he can make more difference (ruling out Russia, Iran, Syria, North Korea etc. for now). Fascinatingly, he chose the centres of the three great Abrahamic religions (Saudi, Jerusalem and Rome) with maybe an inkling if he can crack these, he might crack world peace, and for good measure meeting up with European and World leaders at Nato headquarters and G7 talks. He went in as his own man, playing to his strengths as a deal maker, with a message of uniting to defeat terrorism and an economic focus, putting American interests ahead of imposing America on the world or trying to sort out directly the many problems that beset the world.
As I say, I am mindful of my lack of knowledge and therefore reluctant to over pontificate. When it came to his first stop, Saudi, it appeared he went against his campaign rhetoric which criticized the Saudis. But he brought the Arab leaders gathered there to task about their responsibility to tackle Islamic extremism (ironic some might say given it is in Saudi such seeds have been sown), triumphantly announced a lucrative weapons deal (hypocritical some might say given those same weapons is likely to be used to oppress the innocent) and to Saudi glee laid into a common enemy, Iran (in cahoots with Russia, Syria and Palestinians). Time will tell if it was the act of a genius or we are seeing further bricks laid for WW3. One thing seems clear is he commanded the respect of the Arab leaders without having to be over deferential, unlike Obama before him.
So it was onto Israel and a meeting with his great friend Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister and also met with Palestinian leaders, no doubt lining up a deal to broker peace in Israel, perhaps bringing in his new friend King Salman of Saudi Arabia, with or without Palestinian buy in. If I have a niggle, Trump did not bring up injustices toward the indigenous Palestinian population, and the lack of attention to human rights abuses seemed to be a theme throughout the tour. The standout moment for me was Trump praying at the Wailing Wall (something I did many years ago) and it was brave decision given the politicking that goes on. And then on to Rome and meeting with the Pope. I am not clear what the highlights were but meeting with the leader of the Christian world, who had previously denounced him as unchristian for wanting to build a wall, had to be a good thing. Then it was onto the Brussels meeting Nato chiefs. I must admit to quite liking bringing leaders of that alliance to task for not paying their full wack and of the need to tackle the terrorist threat. And finally G7, back in Italy. I haven’t quite worked out if I share his reluctance to sign up to the Paris agreement for climate change but I quite get it that America should not be unduly penalized, the science needs to be better understood, and actually the greatest threat to humanity is not the environment but the conflicts and terrorist activity we are now seeing. I found his final speech to nearby US Naval base personnel to be inspirational.
So back home following what I see as a successful visit and one worth making, and to dealing with more mundane issues like Russia gate and leaks (some in his favour and others not) and matters to do with draining the swamp, and pushing forward the agenda he was elected on, with the people he would want in post, in post, and in the light of ongoing mockery and considerable opposition – all of which is to be addressed in the next blog and, I daresay, with all that is going on this will be soon. And not to forget Russia, China, Turkey, Iran, North Korea and other hot spots. Interesting times indeed!