It was hard to help but notice – and be somewhat sad about – all those happy faces Thursday afternoon when President Trump announced that Morocco had become the fourth Arab country, after Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates to formally recognize Israel.
These four agreements – all achieved in the last four months – establish Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and leader of his negotiating team on this, as one of the preeminent diplomats of our generation. These accomplishments, along with the president’s withdrawal of U.S. forces from former hot spots around the region, have dramatically remade America’s role in the Middle East.
Instead of trying to bribe the mullahs of Iran to hold off on provocative actions, President Trump has aligned Arabs with Israel against the country the State Department has identified as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. That the Iranians see their position as significantly weakened by this was proven last month when they failed to respond in any way to the killing of a key scientist in their nuclear weapons program.
Morocco’s King Muhammed VI said all the “right” things about continuing to stand by the efforts of the Palestinians to form their own independent nation and how the Moroccans really were more interested in the part of the deal in which the U.S. recognized their control of the Western Sahara.
But the fact is Morocco had one of the largest Jewish communities in North Africa just a few decades ago, and the country is savoring a capital infusion to help with their development plans in the desert and the extensive tourism expected from Israelis looking to reconnect with their ancestral homeland.
President Trump has remade the Middle East. He has extracted U.S. soldiers from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Somalia with little apparent harm to American interests.
He’s done the same in Europe, where he has inspired conservative governments in Poland, Austria and elsewhere, helped nudge Brexit to passage and, by pressuring countries to meet their requirement of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense, added $130 billion in military capability to NATO – our most important alliance.
In our hemisphere, he has convinced Mexico to put 27,000 soldiers on its southern border to prevent migrants from coming to the U.S. from Central America. He also has made deals with Central American countries to strengthen their economies and thus discourage people from wanting to come north. He has spent nearly $12 billion on construction of a wall that would be completed if construction could be continued for just one more year.
The result is stability on the borders at a level not seen in generations and, before the pandemic hit, full employment and rising wages for American workers.
Speaking of stability, President Trump’s first few months in office were marked by near-continuous threats of nuclear attack from North Korea. Hardly a week went by without the Hermit Kingdom firing missiles into the Sea of Japan as a show of force. President Trump managed to pull off two summits and a surprise visit to the DMZ with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, and the saber-rattling from Pyongyang has ceased.
Unless President Trump prevails in court in Texas v. Pennsylvania or other litigation, though, Joe Biden will become president and much of this progress will disappear. Biden is not interested in keeping China in check – he already has said his message will be that we are “open for business” again, presumably the kind of business that resulted in him receiving “10 for the big guy,” and selling out American interests and jobs.
Biden has returned John Kerry, President Obama’s hapless Secretary of State, to a role in government – albeit as climate czar – so the progress in the Middle East, which is based on building alliances on terms the countries in the region agreed to with U.S. help and without regard to the Palestinians’ pursuit of an independent nation, can be expected to stall.
Biden was part of the Obama administration, which did little to get countries in Europe to meet their NATO obligations and did not support Brexit.
On the subject of climate, the U.S. is the only country currently meeting its emissions reduction targets under the Paris agreement, even though President Trump withdrew us from it. We’re doing it with energy independence, millions of well-paying oil and gas jobs and $2 per gallon gas. Will Kerry, who wants to discourage car use by any means, continue that success? Does he even want to?
Goals that have eluded U.S. diplomats for decades came to fruition on a regular basis under President Trump, and the world is without doubt a safer place for it. Moreover, what conflicts do continue are less likely to produce U.S. casualties because so many of our brave fighters have been removed from combat situations in which they did not belong.
Enormous progress has been made. But unless President Trump prevails in court, many of these significant gains could be lost.