Washington D.C. (GPA) – For those still holding out hope that Trump is going to change US foreign policy the president’s first overseas should make it painfully obvious that this isn’t the case.
The White House confirmed an loose itinerary of Trump’s first visits abroad today. On the list of destinations are Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican and then NATO headquarters in Brussels.
While many of us have known that Trump signaled an acceleration of US imperialism, many apologist and fanboys of the new regime have held out an unreasonable hope that there would be some kind of major de-escalation. It now seems Trump is both doubling down on the criminal states he supports during his campaign as well as those he allegedly opposed.
Trump’s Courtship With Zionism
Let’s tackle Trump’s decision to visit Israel first, since this is the most obvious choice for him after repeated promises to be “a friend to Israel” over the past year and a half. Despite some light criticism of Israeli settlements this seems to be one campaign promise that Trump is sticking to.
While the statement to Netanyahu by Trump on slowing down Israeli settlements did seem to surprise some Zionist hard liners, he also endorsed a possible end to the two state solution in the same breath. While it seems unlikely the world will let the idea of a Palestinian state die, this was a significant signal to Israel that the new White House was more friendly.
You can see this friendlier policy unfolding in recent comments made by the Trump regime concerning the controversial move if the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This was an initial promise made by Trump he slightly backed down following criticism from Palestinian authorities and the global community, but was recently said by Vice President Mike Pence to be under “serious consideration.”
While Trump did just meet with head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas and said he would do “whatever’s necessary” to reach a peace deal between Israel and Palestine, his past praise of Zionism should send up clear warning signs.
Trump’s Reversals on Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is a different story from Israel for Trump. Trump rightfully criticized the Wahhabi regime in Riyadh for large donations to the Clinton foundation during his campaign for president but what we’ve been saying here should be obvious now, that this was only for political points.
Trump has come a long way from calling out the absolutely horrible humans rights violations in Saudi Arabia to now being called a “true friend” to Muslims by Saudi royalty. Trump has obviously learned the ways of the neoconservative gospel since taking office and now sees the Saudis as a key ally in the Middle East.
Presumably, Trump has learned that the Saudis are the only alternative to improving relations with the other MidEast regional power (and US adversary), Iran. Despite cold relations between the house of Saud and Trump prior to taking office, it seems the bonds forged in hatred of Iran have truly broken barriers.
Trump’s statements on Iran being the largest state sponsor of terrorism – they’re not – have brought the Saudis fully on board with the return of hard imperialism in the US. In fact, in statements made by Trump today at the White House, the president said the purpose of his visit to Riyadh would be to discuss the ‘shared responsibility’ of fighting terrorism in the future.
This seems to be the only thing on Trump’s mind and even his previous criticisms of the fanatical regime were tossed out when he told reporters “Our task is not to dictate to others how to live, but to build a coalition of friends and partners who share the goal of fighting terrorism.” This seems like an odd decision to people familiar with basic facts, as the Saudis have been the main sponsors of terror around the globe, including the Islamic State, the group Trump is primarily concerned with.
It’s also likely that Trump will boost his commitments to aid the Saudi war on Yemen which has marked by massive numbers of war crimes in their fight against an organic resistance that Washington wrongfully labels as Iranian proxies. Trump has already rapidly built up US operations in Yemen and authorized arms sales, blocked under Obama, to aid the Saudi air campaign in the country which will only make the situation worse in a country where a large portion of the population is already on the brink of starvation.
Trump’s New Love of NATO
Another partner in the war on terror previously criticized, but now embraced by Trump is NATO. While Trump may have previously called the global imperialist organization obsolete on the campaign trail, it seems that after meeting with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg he’s reached a new understanding.
To be fair, Trump may have not comprehend what exactly NATO is until he took office. Besides his complaints about NATO members not living up to their spending requirements, he also said they weren’t doing enough to “fight terrorism.”
However, after the meeting with Stoltenberg, Trump says he’s convinced NATO is now “no longer obsolete” despite the organization not actually changing any policies. It’s these statements that lead some to believe Trump didn’t actually know what NATO does since they’ve assisted in executing every illegal US war of aggression since 2001.
So what should we take away from the planned stops on Trump’s first diplomatic mission abroad? It’s simple, Trump has learned how the US empire is sustained and he’s going to make sure that it’s clear to the worst US accomplices that the criminal enterprise of Western hegemony is in no danger on his watch.
James Carey is an organizer based in Detroit, Michigan, founder of Geopolitics Alert, and an experienced analyst on Middle Eastern affairs with a particular focus on Turkey. He also covers topics ranging from Latin America and Asia to Europe. You can also hear James in his weekly podcast; The Left is Dead which he co-hosts with investigative journalist Jake Anderson.