May 27, 2017 by gregrabidoux2013
Over the past week or so President Trump and the First Lady Melania Trump embarked on what can objectively be described as a truly historic foreign policy trip. And it’s not just about what was accomplished, what was said in speeches or even agreements signed, although I’ll get to these in a moment.
No. It was significant in large part as to the president’s choice of itinerary.
In short, whom you choose to visit and in what sequential order may not matter much to American media consumers who have been weaned on The Daily Show style fluff, Steven Colbert’s vulgarities and social media “clickbait” but the rest of the world pays attention. And they take note.
Let me explain.
Eight years ago then newly inaugurated President Obama and his advisers planned a carefully orchestrated first foreign policy trip. Their strategic aim was to send a strong signal to Iran and to Shiite Muslims that the US, in choosing a new president, had chosen to tilt strongly towards the Shiite coalition which included Hezbollah, the Palestinians, Iraq Shiites and of course Iran. The fact he chose to address his remarks largely to Muslims that were strategically placed front and center in his Cairo audience did two things-One, it made it clear to the Egyptians and Gulf State Arabs that this was indeed a shift away from them, and secondly, it offered the Iranians an olive branch. Thus, started what can only accurately be called an 8 year period of strategic appeasement and outreach to the Iranians.
It also ushered in a very rocky and at times hostile relationship between two historically close allies, the US and Israel. Just before leaving office when the US under President Obama failed to first veto and then chose to abstain from a vote on as insulting a resolution that could be presented at the United Nations towards Israel (a symbolic resolution rejecting Israeli claims on the Western Wall in Israel and opening the door to Palestinian claims) the seeds first planted 8 years prior were in full bloom for all to see.
Of course, 8 years is long enough for results to ahem, trump rhetoric and the policy of Iranian and Shiite appeasement had failed. Without American leadership, without a strong US-Arab coalition, without a strong and balanced US-Israel relationship our enemies did not see our appeasement and softening as anything but what they always see these as-an opportunity to recklessly and ruthlessly consolidate power, ally with rogue nations, sponsor and embolden even more terrorism and of course put out the welcome mat for world class meddlers and power brokers like Russia.
Why is this all important to understand?
Well, because President Trump and his advisers have just executed a very different and strategic foreign policy trip.
By first touching down in Riyadh and signing an historic arms agreement with Saudi Arabia worth well over $150 billion dollars and by first addressing a coalition of a 50 state Sunni Arab audience the president has signaled a crucial shift in US policy.
The US under this new president was shifting back to our very long and fruitful alliance with the Gulf State moderate Arabs and away from Iran. By making this very clear in his first trip and by urging these leaders to reject terrorism and its ilk he also sent a strong signal to our historic friend, Israel, that the 8 years of abandonment and even hostility was over.
It also was not coincidence that President Trump became the first sitting US president to visit the Western Wall in Israel. In effect, the message was “No more UN Resolutions like the one you suffered recently will occur from the US at least in the next 4 years.”
So, consequently, it was no mere coincidence that the Israeli Prime Minister declared that “It is enlightening and a relief to see the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East at a crucial and dangerous time.”
In Italy, the Pope and the President met and by all accounts it was a warm and friendly exchange at a time when Christians around the world are being targeted by Muslim terrorists. The First Lady wowed the Italians by speaking fluent Italian as she visited hospitals, handed out toys and food for children and met with relief charities.
Making his last leg of this first trip be in Brussels, the President also sent a strong message to NATO that they had not heard in the last 8 years-Pay your fair share of NATO dues and take global terrorism more seriously.
In short, this trip was historic and significant and strategic in its purpose, its execution and in its results.
And if you took the time to digest a sampling of foreign media this is how it was perceived and treated. When you have enemies on all sides like Israel foreign policy and the actions of the US matter. Deeply.
When you are Saudi Arabia and you lead a coalition of Sunni Muslims under attack by Shiites and with Iran as an enemy the alliance with US, previously in disrepair under the Obama Administration and now cemented under the Trump Administration matters. Deeply.
But back home, our mainstream media, which in many ways has sadly become one big social media “clickbait” blog seems to be deathly allergic to anything adult, mature or even slightly substantive. And, rather than simply and objectively present these policy matters in an even-handed manner so that Americans can actually learn something and maybe, just maybe become better informed the media chooses the silly, the slapstick, the trivial the dumb.
Because folks, they are convinced that is what we all want. And need.
So, what did our domestic media choose to cover and gossip about?
Let’s see, they gossiped about the “transparently fake marriage” between the Trumps, the fact they didn’t always hold hands and once Melania even “rejected” Trump’s offer to hold hands, the “fact” they (Melania and Ivanka) “insulted” the Saudis by not wearing headscarves, the “fact” Trump “aggressively pushed” another foreign leader in Brussels and the “fact” that the Pope was insulted that Ivanka and Melania chose to wear all black and black veils on their visit to the Vatican.
What’s worse is that rather than provide real and substantive coverage of a historic and strategically significant trip our media, long weaned on fluff and now run by biased folks who on the one hand hate Trump and all he does and on the other hand have been trained in SEO, social media buzz, clickbaiting and PR (and sadly not journalism) may simply not know what they don’t know.
So, they run stories that fit into tweets, social media consumption and clicks.
And so regardless of where your politics may lie, regardless of whether you support or reject this president you and all of us are being deprived.
Deprived of being able to engage in any real, substantive debate on issues that literally impact our lives, our security, our planet our descendants.
But I guess we can debate shoes, scarves, hand-holding with a passion, and a fervor normally reserved for things that count.
As Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth, “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
By the way, and just for the record-
The Saudi King said that he and his group were all “graced” by the poise and beauty of our First Lady and the daughter of our president and they never assumed that as Christians and as a Jewish woman (Ivanka) nor were they at all insulted that they did not wear traditional Hajibs.
Unless you are eligible under Vatican law and policy (you are a Queen, a Duchhess, etc) you are forbidden to wear white or any color and are required by tradition unless given prior special exemption to wear black with matching black veils when visiting the Papacy.
Far from being “insulted” the Pope blessed Melania’s own personal rosary beads and later called it “an honor to meet the President and his wife.”
The “aggressive push” was deemed “harmless” and both laughed it off as insignificant.
Like any couple sometimes they hold hands and sometimes they don’t. Try not to be astonished.
As far as the countless hours spent on the mysterious globe that President Trump and the Saudi leader both touched and it lit up, I can’t say. But it did make for a nice lightshow. Just not worth a fraction of the time spent discussing it in our media.