US President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin served to increase the paranoia about him to an all-time high. He was accused of “failing America,” acting “shamefully” and “disgracefully,” and even committing “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Former CIA chief John Brennan went so far as to call his performance “treasonous.”
Trump certainly blundered when commenting on the similarity in behavior of the current Russian and American intelligence sources. This followed his outbursts during an earlier meeting with the Europeans in relation to NATO. Even Republican supporters rubbed their eyes in incredulity at some of his remarks to Putin. Yet, even following this barrage of criticism, Trump announced last week that he had invited Putin to Washington.
Nobody can deny that Trump behaves like a buffoon and has a penchant for vulgarity. He shoots from the hip, says what he thinks, often contradicts himself and incessantly posts juvenile tweets. He has made many errors and impulsively introduced regulations with total disregard for details, such as the restrictions on immigration, thus creating considerable chaos that could have been averted.
On the other hand, he has – by and large – neutralized the disastrous impact of his predecessor, Barack Obama, who in his prime objective to achieve peace, discarded some of America’s long-standing allies, groveled to the Iranian terrorist state, and in the process, diminished America’s global influence.
Trump started his presidency with a call for “America First” that enraged his opponents who linked it to pre-World War ll fascism.
A REVIEW of the facts will help evaluate his overall performance.
• The economy
Trump has introduced a series of economic measures – decried by his opponents – but the outcomes of which have been significant positive indicators in the economy and a sharp upturn in the stock market.
In his determination not to follow the disastrous example in Europe, he imposed strict limitations on immigration, refusing to permit the country to be flooded by Islamic migrants. Although introduced clumsily, Trump’s immigration policy will historically be recognized as a wise decision.
After demanding a more balanced trade relationship with China and warning against ongoing theft of American technology, he stunned the world by imposing tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese government-subsidized goods that were undercutting US products. He threatened to extend this to vehicles. The Chinese responded by imposing tariffs on American goods, accusing Trump of starting a trade war and breaching the terms of the World Trade Organization. Time will tell, but many believe that Trump will be vindicated and that China will compromise on a fairer export policy and that America’s disastrous negative trade balance will be reversed.
• Europe and NATO
Trump shocked the Europeans and horrified their leaders by questioning the value of NATO and its members’ dependence on American largesse. He warned that the US would go it alone and no longer pour US taxpayer money into subsidizing the Europeans unless they shouldered the burden of their defense, raising their military spending from 2% to 4% of gross domestic product. He noted that Germany, the most powerful European nation, currently spends a mere 1.25% of its GDP on defense.
This created an upheaval. But the bottom line is that they will deliver, and Trump will be vindicated.
Trump has clearly intensified the war against terrorism. He has broken with the Iranians and is in the process of imposing powerful sanctions, which could lead to the collapse of the regime.
• North Korea
Trump personally initiated direct top-level negotiations with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in an attempt to persuade him to denuclearize. Although the outcome is far from assured, these negotiations are themselves an unprecedented achievement.
Putin’s Russian Federation is an authoritarian state but a far cry from the totalitarian Soviet Union. Whether there is any truth in the allegations that Russia meddled in the US elections, few genuinely believe such actions altered the outcome.
Despite their major differences, in particular in their attitudes toward Iran, both Putin and Trump pledged to cooperate and work jointly to combat terrorism.
Trump was bitterly castigated in the US for adopting this approach with the Russians. But if he succeeds in easing tensions, avoiding a new Cold War and increasing cooperation even to a limited degree, this too will be recognized as a significant positive achievement.
As far as most Israelis are concerned, Trump’s election has proved to be God’s gift to them. Trump is the first American president to formally announce the alliance of the US with Israel and assure the Israelis that the United States will back them if they were embroiled in conflict.
He brought an end to Obama’s biased policy of moral equivalence between Israel’s defensive measures and Palestinian terrorism, and has refused to maintain the façade that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is a moderate man of peace. He also drastically cut back US aid to the Palestinians.
He has made it very clear that the US will not tolerate the Palestinian diversion of millions of aid dollars to reward terrorists and provide pensions to their families.
The administration placed full blame on Hamas for the Gaza escalation of terrorism, accusing them of “pushing Israel to engage in increasingly significant acts of defense.”
Trump’s UN representative, Nikki Haley, aggressively defends Israel and condemns its biased critics. The US also withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council, an organization dominated by tyrants and rogue states, which the Trump administration accused of hypocrisy and bias against Israel.
Despite howls of global protest and unlike his predecessors, Trump has fulfilled his electoral promise to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.
In another unprecedented turn of events, following their recent meeting, Trump and Putin issued an astonishing joint press statement in which they explicitly proclaimed their commitment to “work together to ensure the security of Israel.” Trump said, “I think that working with Israel is a great thing, and creating safety for Israel is something that both President Putin and I would like to see very much.”
TO SUM UP, Trump is clearly calling the shots and rearranging the existing global order.
From an Israeli viewpoint, Trump has – to date – been like manna from heaven. That does not mean we endorse all his actions, and we continue to squirm at his cruder outbursts.
But despite the great schism in American politics since his election, Trump has gone a long way toward reversing the damage inflicted by Obama. He is disliked by most global leaders, but he is feared and has demonstrated his ability to deal positively with many international issues that have, until now, been ignored. His supporters can only hope that despite his erratic temperament, he stays the course.
While the Democrats are likely to win seats in the upcoming Congressional elections, there is a strong chance Trump will be reelected in 2020, especially if the current radicalization of the Democratic candidates is not reversed.
The writer’s website is wordfromjerusalem.com. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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