Before the scoffing gets out of control, I’d like to point to a visual from the television on Sunday morning: Donald J. Trump at the podium in the royal meeting hall of the House of Saud. Less than 50 feet from the King, and less than 20 feet away from the President of the United States sat an Orthodox Jew and his wife. In the Royal presence.
Now, if you’re a follower of the Arab and Islamic world, you’ll see the significance of this in a heartbeat: Israeli Jews are not given visas to the Kingdom. But here, because of the prestige and influence of the President of the United States, two Jews, members of the First Family sat on the same stage as the leaders. While not Israelis, it’s still a huge thing in the Arab world.
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To continue, it was a great speech. Not only did Trump not put his foot in his mouth, he stuck to the script and engaged his audience. I watch things for content and subtext. In that hall, on that morning, almost everyone was paying rapt attention to the man. Not the translation in their ear, but the man on the stage. There were exceptions, but those idiots were also Skyping with their niece in Chicago during services on Sunday morning from the back row of the church – you know who I mean.
During the speech Trump touched upon common facets of both civilizations. He addressed Islam and terrorism. He rightly pointed out that the terrorists have killed more Arabs and Muslims than Americans, and that it’s a mutual threat that needs to be eliminated. Most of all, he brought out the issue of financing. Once it’s clear that financing, and harboring, of these animals will not gain you anything from here on, it’s a matter of time until some of it withers and dies on the vine. Not all of it will, I’m not stupid enough to buy that, but a lot of it will go away once it’s no longer profitable.
Item next: travel back over time and look at presidents visiting Israel. They never, to my knowledge, fly directly there from an Arab nation, nor do they fly to an Arab nation from Israel. They always make a stop in Italy, France, Kenya, or somewhere else so as not to make it a direct connection. Donald Trump is breaking with that tradition. The message is clear: I don’t pander to your prejudice, and all of my allies need to get along.
This is not as big a leap as it would have been 10 years ago. Say what you will about Barack Hussein Obama, but he did unite the Arabs and Israelis in the last few years of his rule. Not in a good way, but by creating an existential threat to both with the groveling and cave-in to Iran. He not only let them off the sanctions hook, but he empowered their nuclear weapons program.
If there’s anything the Iranians hate more than the Israelis and the United States, it’s all those apostate, smug, Gulf Arabs in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. Those people offend Allah, and the Iranians have done as much as they can to intimidate and suborn the governments across the Straits of Hormuz as they can manage. Their nuclear weapons will be first used on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, especially since the Kingdom now actively cooperates with Israel on a wide range of security matters.
Once the visit with our strongest ally in the region is underway, I suspect we will hear all sorts of wild rumors about settlements, additional breaking news about Comey’s bunions, and the fact that someone living three blocks from the White House heard gunshots, and they’re pretty sure Donald Trump is shooting black children from the roof. But the conversations will be kept under tight wraps, and both sides will gain something that they want in the process. Trump and Netanyahu are natural partners on a great number of levels, mainly their steely love of their own countries.
The Vatican will be a trip to let the world’s Christians know that President Trump values the stability of the Roman Catholic Church. I’m not sure that it has any great meaning beyond hitting all three of the major religions (what ever happened to Buddhism and the Hindus?) in one trip. It’s symbolic only, unless a surprise comes out of the visit. That, ladies and gentlemen, would not be a huge surprise given the man on the trip.
So far, it seems to be a great trip for the White House. My one hope is that they hid his phone and changed his Twitter password so that he can be judged on the merits of his policy, and not on the spelling and bravado of a 140 missive. He’s much better in the long form.
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