As the completion of the Trump administration’s first year comes into focus, it's difficult to sift through the loud drumbeats of Russian "collusion," as well as the endless noise emanating from the mainstream media. Drumbeats regarding the shortcoming and failures of the Trump administration. Despite all the noise, false statements, and reckless claims that the world is ending, the inexperienced outsider that came to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20, 2017.
President Donald J. Trump has produced some important surprises and clear, measurable gains overseas during his first year in office. In just under 365 days, the president has managed to slow and ultimately halt the slide of U.S. credibility and influence globally. Respect or fear him, — the world over — every national leader that matters knows there is a new sheriff in town.
The Russia policy arena is a good place to start now that a bright spotlight is shining on what the Obama administration actually did over the past eight years. Russia exploited the opportunities created by feckless Obama policy statements and decisions like. Statements and decisions like "leading from behind," the Russian "reset," the Syrian "red line" on chemical weapons, and the Hezbollah drug trafficking decisions — to name a few.
The reversal of course, the display of resolve, coupled to a willingness to risk has made Russia, and other major global players sit up and take notice of the man from Queens, N.Y.
The actions and results of Trump policy changes are impossible to ignore. In 2013 Obama ended 69 years of stability on the European continent when he reduced Americans armored combat capacity to just two armored brigades. Putin answered that foolish decision with an invasion of the Ukraine. Within a year, Putin moved significant Special Forces and air combat capabilities into Syria. Concurrently, he propped up the Assad regime, while cementing his alliance with Iran in the Mideast.
President Trump moved quickly to address shortsighted national security decisions that provided both opportunities and advantages to Russia. Trump initiated arms shipments to the Ukraine, changed the rules of engagement and force structure in the Iraq-Syria theater to counter ISIS and tilt the Kurdish balance of power in Syria. The president crafted and initiated new sanctions on Russia, Putin regional allies and business contacts — and Iran.
Along with these moves, the quiet change in U.S. military rules of engagement in Iraq and Syria, coupled to a most lethal application of Special Forces operational capacity and increased operational tempo, resulted in the near total destruction of ISIS's capacity to make war. The strategic decision to arm our Syrian Kurdish allies, resulted in the elimination of ISIS's capabilities in Syria.
The defeat of ISIS in Syria, specifically in Raqqa, (the declared capital of the Islamic Caliphate) barely made the news in the U.S. mainstream media.
The Trump administration’s first trip abroad displayed a bold, but risky step to travel to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and then to Rome to meet with Pope Francis. These excusrsions signaled the administration’s willingness to meet directly with the leadership of the three largest religions.
Predictions of calamity, broadcast by the media, and the dismissal by Washington, D.C. elites of this bold approach, were countered by Trump with blunt discussions; new ideas and positive results at each and every stop.
The Saudi leadership issued a public statement recently ending their official support for Wahabi Islam which has been practiced since the 1970’s within that kingdom — and exported and funded across the region as well as the Islamic world.
The Saudi crown prince declared the Saudi state would revert back to their historical roots of moderate Islam; welcoming the region’s historic religions back to the kingdom. This move was an earthquake in the Islamic world. That significance has barely been covered by western media.
Tied to this new opening and much closer working relationship with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states on the problem of Islamic extremism (from both Sunni and Shi’a sects) is a policy shift to roll back the Iranian quest for power, influence and land conquests across the Arabian peninsula, and the Levant to the Mediterranean Sea. The recognition of the threats posed by the Shi’a Crescent, connecting Iran to the Mediterranean Sea, Lebanon and Syria addresses the central national security concern from our historical Arab allies.
The Trump administration has addressed the two-state solution head on, with bold, new thinking — and a creative approach. After decades of failure and stalemate in the "peace process," he declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel. He committed to move our embassy there, disrupting decades of entrenched, inflexible thinking. Trump made good on yet another campaign promise, and by contrast, put the focus on the hollow pledges of the past three U.S. presidents.
These bold Mideast initiatives are not lost on North Korea and China. The thinking and reactions of both nations are impacted by President Trump's Mideast foriegn policy strategic maneuvers. Our president is establishing a pattern of behavior impacting the North Korean nuclear issue.
All but forgotten is that the North Korean dictator used a deadly nerve agent to assassinate a political enemy at Kuala Lumpur's international airport. This was breathtakingly bold and dangerous. North Korea, like Iran (Rafic Hariri’s killing in Beirut), has displayed a willingness to use assassination as a political tool on the international scene — and get away with it.
The international diplomatic support the administration assembled on North Korea, one coupled to a firm and swift coalition military policy and deployment strategy, has changed the narrative on the Hermit Nation. Despite the breathless claims that Trump was racing toward war on the Korean peninsula — quite the opposite is true.
A clear policy is emergent, one with global support. A policy bringing considerable military might to bear, in order to strengthen the diplomatic and economic levers of the West, and our regional allies. That strategy is playing out now, in a firmly disciplined way.
Not a bad start for a rookie from Queens, N.Y.
Armstrong Williams is the author of "Reawakening Virtues." He is a political commentator who writes a conservative newspaper column, hosts a nationally syndicated TV program called "The Right Side," and hosts a daily radio show on Sirius/XM Power 128 (6-7 p.m. and 5-6 a.m.) Monday through Friday. He also is owner of Howard Stirk Holdings Broadcast TV stations. Read more reports from Armstrong Williams — Click Here Now.
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