Focus on re-election

With the vote on conviction over, Donald Trump can focus on his re-election. Like almost everything, his viability will be determined by a strong economy. But it will be interesting to see what direction he will head in regard to foreign policy. With John Bolton not being able to testify, Trump may consider trying to break out of the stranglehold created by traditional advisors.

Certainly there are signs that Trump will do exactly that — pursuing the foreign policy he envisioned from the beginning. He is not the only one trying to reach out to Vladimir Putin’s Russian Federation. Benjamin Netanyahu, after leaving Washington, headed to Moscow. Given that American news treats foreign affairs strictly from a narrow view, the closeness between Israel and Russia has gone unnoticed. Certainly Russia would not have been able to place substantial numbers of soldiers in Syria without Israel’s permission.

What do they have in common? For one thing, a substantial number of Israelis are of Russian origin. The Arab governments have long since abandoned the Palestians, and Russians simply followed their lead. Israel never wanted an Islamic government in Damascus — no particular affection for Bashar al Assad — but better the devil you know than the one you don’t. Libya was seen within the same prism — better Muammar Gaddafi than chaos.

Trump picked up on these trends faster than many of his critics. He was however disliked by those experts who desire that America interfere anywhere it pleases. Of course they consult governments before they do it, but it amounts to unilateralism. Trump derided as a narrow minded “American Firster” actually has sought out international cooperation. But what raised the ire of his critics is that he picked the wrong nations. Russia, China, and Turkey are considered as being from the wrong side of the diplomatic tracks, yet they have aided American efforts.

Certainly the campaign against ISIS would not have been possible without cooperation. Ukraine and Russia have negotiated with more harmony than when America gave Kiev a blank check. Now there is always the lingering problem of Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State. His views are different than Trump’s and his tries to coax him in a different direction. It is interesting to speculate upon Pompeo’s future.

Nevertheless Trump gambled and won. The Republican party is his to do with whatever he wants. The so-called never-Trumper Republicans who are always spoken about but never seen flopped during the impeachment trial. He did not need Mitt Romney’s vote and allowed Susan Collins to wander off because the rest were in the bag. For the first time, Trump has a clear shot in calling his own foreign policy. The “hawks” like Bolton failed and failed utterly to win.

Perhaps a resurrection of Richard Nixon’s “triangular” diplomacy might just be the thing. A world divided up by mutual interests rather than ideological demands will be forthcoming. For those who squawk about power diplomacy, if applied evenly it has a better chance of avoiding war than that afforded by Bolton and his gang of neo-conservatives.


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