First visit abroad, started on May 19, this year, included widely publicized stoppages to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican (Rome) and NATO (Brussels). Therefore, areas close to Europe and institutions highly important for the old continent’s security, as well as symbolic, personifying to a large extent the Western civilization located since thousands of years on the old continent (the Catholic Church is the most longevous global institution, with a continuous existence and a heir of the Roman Empire, even only by the title of pontifex maximus shared by both the Pope and the Roman emperors).
The visit included not only Europe – NATO being the main Euro-Atlantic military and politic security alliance -, but also volatile strategic regions of a direct interest and also related in terms of tradition and history, namely the Middle East and the Gulf region.
As a significant detail, we mention from the beginning that President Trump’s first visit abroad includes the areas of the origin of the three monotheist religions of the region, including their main holy places (Saudi Arabia, where there are Mecca and Medina, Jerusalem and Vatican). In our opinion, this is an extremely important detail for any analysis of this visit, which is a historical one, no matter what other may say – considering the criticisms brought against the President at Washington and in Europe -, because D. Trump is the acting President of the most powerful state of the planet, and anything he signs or says represents his qualified and legitimate opinion.
As for the criticisms brought against him, we mention that right in the day when the President started this historical visit, on May 20, in the prestigious German magazine “Der Spiegel” (very attractive for the public) we could see an editorial of the chief editor, reading: “Donald Trump is not fit to be president of the United States. He does not possess the requisite intellect and does not understand the significance of the office he holds nor the tasks associated with it. He doesn’t read. He doesn’t bother to peruse important files and intelligence reports and knows little about the issues that he has identified as his priorities. His decisions are capricious and they are delivered in the form of tyrannical decrees.” Moreover, the editorial was saying: “He is a man free of morals. As has been demonstrated hundreds of times, he is a liar, a racist and a cheat. I feel ashamed to use these words, as sharp and loud as they are. But if they apply to anyone, they apply to Trump. And one of the media’s tasks is to continue telling things as they are: Trump has to be removed from the White House. Quickly. He is a danger to the world.”
Regardless of how weird it seems, such a position of the head of the German magazine must be already labeled as the rejection of any strategy promoted by President Trump through this visit. Especially if we consider the end of the above mentioned editorial, in which Trump is likened to an ignorant boy, yet dangerous because of his ignorance: “In real life, an immature boy sits on the throne of the most important country in the world. He could, at any time, issue a catastrophic order that would immediately be carried out. That is why the parents cannot afford to take their eyes off him even for a second. They cannot succumb to exhaustion because he is so taxing. They ultimately have to send him to his room – and return power to the grownups”. However, it’s necessary to decrypt certain components of this strategy, to identify its fundamental orientation (the aimed objective), because it actually reflects the position of the most powerful state of the planet, rather than the President’s one. The benefits of this attempt of decryption are obvious, since we could understand what are the reasons preventing today the strengthening of the transatlantic relations and future directions of action in the strategic regions which are important for the old continent. In Saudi Arabia, the US President not only signed weapons delivery agreements towards this country, amounting more than USD 100 billion, ensuring the significant strengthening of the projection of his own strength by the receiving country, already obvious in its vicinity.
Trump also revealed his plans, in a speech held in front of the Sunni leaders of the states in this region. A few quotes from this speech will convince us of one thing, namely that Trump wishes an alliance of the Sunni states who are opposed to Iran and to the Islamic radicalism (jihad). In this context, he stated that jihad and the terrorism associated to it, and eliminating its threat against international security involve a military effort which has to be adequate and coordinated, because: “This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations” but “a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it. This is a battle between good and evil.” D. Trump referred to Iran, labeled as a sponsor-state for terrorism: “Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.” As for the settlement of the Palestinian issue, he mentioned in the speech held at Riyadh in front of the Sunni leaders of the states in the region: “The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children.” Besides, in the talks he had with them, he also noted their wish to recognize the existence of Israel in exchange for creating a Palestinian state within the internationally legitimate borders. Therefore, it can be implicitly understood, knowing the Arab states’ position, that this implies the capital of this state to be the Eastern Jerusalem, as well as the restitution of the territories occupied by Israel after the war since 1967, of course, with certain changes.
The message was carried the next day to Jerusalem, to the Israeli Government, which was already alerted by the amplitude of the weapon delivery agreements signed by their guest in Riyadh. According to the available information, the Israeli Government hesitated to welcome its guest at the airport, and the explicit order of the PM was needed to this end. Here, in Israel, Trump made his strategy in this region even clearer: a partnership with the Sunni forces, in order to eliminate the Iranian threat; also, he wishes a revival of the peace talks between Israel and Palestine, since Washington is ready to support the solution found within them. But in Israel, the military groups are questioning the fact that the partnership with the Sunni forces in order to eliminate ISIL is somewhat counterproductive. An Israeli expert said that “the radical axis headed by Iran is more risky than the global jihad one /…/ It is much more knowledgeable, stronger, with a bigger arsenal.”
After his visit in the Mideast, Trump noted on his Twitter account: “Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Middle East were great. Trying hard for PEACE”.
The last two presidential stops of this journey were made by President Trump to Vatican – an important meeting with the Sovereign pontiff with whom he had controversies during his presidential campaign (related to building the wall at the Mexican border), which highlighted identical opinions on the peace issue in our days, according to both the press reports and the officials’ statements -, and to the NATO headquarters in Brussels. The last visit was an occasion for a Summit of the Alliance (May 25).
On his own Twitter account, President Trump wrote on May 24, after he met Pope Francis: “Honor of a lifetime to meet His Holiness Pope Francis. I leave the Vatican more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world.” According to this presidential statement, we can only say that the overall strategy pursued during this visit was one of peace, and from this perspective, President Trump has undoubtedly expressed the USA will. Few hours before the NATO Summit, the Secretary General of the Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, was writing on its official Twitter account: “Looking forward to welcoming Allies to discuss burden sharing and fight against terrorism at NATO meeting. We are making NATO stronger”.
The agenda of the meeting demonstrates that peace can only be achieved through cooperation and increasing the Alliance’s efficiency.