By: Matt Issent
President Donald Trump took his first trip abroad this past week, visiting Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Vatican. He concluded with Brussels and Italy to meet with the leaders of NATO and the G7.
President Trump, the businessman that he is, didn’t leave the United States without a list of goals to accomplish while abroad; including an arms deal with Saudi Arabia, promoting ‘unity’ within NATO, and grandstanding at any venue he was present at.
Trump’s first stop in Saudi Arabia was very productive with a massive arms deal. The arms deal worth $350 billion with $110 billion to take effect immediately has become less shocking and less surprising the more frequent these types of deals are being made. In comparison, under President Obama, the U.S. administration made 42 separate arms deals totaling $115 billion with Saudi Arabia. President Trump made the deal sweeter than our prior president by including advance missile defense systems that were off the table with the prior administration.
These arms deals have greatly strengthened Saudi Arabia’s presence within the Middle East and led it to become a dominating force among it’s neighbors. Some may wonder what Saudi Arabia could be doing by amassing all of these arms and weapons. Few know of the Saudi’s war within Yemen and their backing of the ousted President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi against the Houthis who have control over the country. The Yemeni Crisis began in 2011 and is currently on going with no resolution in sight. The arms the US sells to Saudi Arabia including cluster bombs [which are a war crime to use as they mainly kill civilians] have bolstered Saudi Arabia and made it easy for them to conduct war within Yemen; along with U.S. assistance in refueling jet planes during bombing runs. Among other weapons, we have delivered tanks and jet fighters to the Saudi governments in their arms buildup against their regional rival Iran.
President Trump visited Israel and has become the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall. His visit in Israel can be seen as mundane and routine for presidents of today’s period; stating that we will support this ally and maintain a close relationship. Only President Trump’s meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas seemed to differ from presidents of the past. President Trump seems to possess a goal of unification and finding a resolution to the Israel-Palestine calamity.
After Israel, President Trump visited The Vatican in rounding out his trip to Abrahamic religious centers. While the United States didn’t need to state that we’ll need to protect the Vatican like Israel and Saudi Arabia, the visiting of these three holy lands should be duly noted.
President Trump, after making this large arms deal with Saudi Arabia, continued his stern approach towards NATO members in Brussels, by stating that they are not contributing their shared expense for mutual defense by spending 2% of their economies. The United States have bared the highest expense for NATO, most likely due to the fact that the U.S. spends more on ‘defense’ than the next 6 nations combined. Some commentators speculate that the U.S. will not come to the aid of a besieged NATO member. Few foresee the U.S. or fellow NATO members turning their backs on a NATO member who has failed to pay their share.
With President Trump’s first international trip out of the way, little has changed in the world and few will be able to point out any major differences between the foreign policy of former President Barack Obama and current President Donald Trump. Some writers critique President Trump for not explicitly saying one thing or another; but the truth of the matter is that they are just speculating and creating news, rather than reporting it. President Trump will continue to lead the United States in supporting our NATO allies and being a superpower within the G7.