Trump brokers Middle East peace deal between Israel and Bahrain
First, it was the United Arab Emirates and Israel making peace. Then it was Serbia and Kosovo agreeing to set aside political disputes to sign an economic deal. And now Bahrain and Israel are set to sign a peace treaty.
The last month has been a remarkable one for the Biblical injunction to turn swords into plowshares. Most dramatically, the number of Arab countries recognizing Israel’s right to exist has doubled, from two to four, a leap that is reshaping 75 years of Middle East politics before our eyes.
These breakthroughs were brokered by President Trump and his administration. It is an extraordinary record of peacemaking, yet in too many circles, it is being treated as a sideshow without significance.
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Naturally, The New York Times took the low road, insisting Saturday that the deals show Trump trying “to position himself as a peacemaker before the elections in November.”
So being an actual peacemaker doesn’t count because the Times spies a personal motive?
In the same vein, talk of the president getting a Nobel Peace Prize is instantly dismissed. Over the dead bodies of the world elite will Trump be so honored.
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Make no mistake – had these feats been achieved by a Democratic president, he would be celebrated. When Trump does it, meh.
That much is obvious, but there’s another dimension to these deals, one that bears on the dangerous polarization gripping America. We are now in an election year where political violence is growing and both parties are expressing reservations about whether they will accept the outcome.
Future historians will chart the decades-long path of how we got to this perilous point, but they must not ignore the incredible damage done by Democrats’ decision to reject the legitimacy of the Trump presidency.
Having never accepted his election, they resisted and tried to destroy him. They weaponized the Justice Department and the FBI, CIA and State Department, and enlisted the left-leaning media – meaning most of the media – to paint Trump as unfit, unworthy and even a Russian agent.
Worse than personal slander, it was character assassination masquerading as concern for national security. It reached rock bottom in the impeachment fiasco, where they tried to undo 2016 and prevent Trump from being on the ballot this year.
These were the dirtiest tricks imaginable, and they haven’t stopped. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., even has a new “whistleblower.”
Now imagine if Dems had taken a different course. Imagine if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., had acted as responsible opposition leaders starting in 2017 instead of surrendering to the mob.
They would have found a president eager to negotiate on almost everything. Trump prides himself on being a dealmaker and loves nothing more than a signing ceremony.
Call it vanity, but because that’s who he is, Pelosi and Schumer could have gotten much of what they wanted. Trump, remember, had been a Democrat, a party donor, and many of his policy outcomes, such as rising wages for poor and middle-class families and record low unemployment for black and Latino workers, were things Democrats always said they wanted to achieve.
Much of Trump’s Mideast success has to do with big strategic decisions that reversed Barack Obama’s approach.
But in the early months of his presidency, Pelosi and Schumer and the party establishment decided they would not make deals with Trump and would not even seriously negotiate on most issues. To do so, they concluded, would legitimize him – and probably cost them their leadership positions. So they abdicated their responsibility to the nation in exchange for partisan power.
Here’s a partial list of what they sacrificed. They claimed to want a national infrastructure program but said no when Trump pushed for one. They said they wanted the first big immigration deal since 1986, but rejected Trump’s demand for improved border security and enforcement, along with a deal on the “Dreamers.”
The details of the big GOP tax-cut package could have been reshaped if Dems played ball. Instead, they voted no in unison – and got nothing, including on the state and local tax-deduction limits blue states have been moaning about ever since.
Dems did, briefly, cooperate on fighting the coronavirus, but soon decided it was better used as a weapon against Trump. It was impeachment by another name.
None of this is to suggest that Trump is easy to deal with or predictable. He can be difficult to the point of exasperating, insufferably boastful and gratuitously mean in his personal attacks. He might well lose the election because he cannot discipline himself enough to attract swing voters.
But those undesirable traits haven’t stood in the way of the international peace deals. Is Trump a different person in those negotiations, or are Arabs and Israelis, Serbs and Kosovars more focused on the fruits of the deal than on the dealmaker’s personality?
To be sure, much of Trump’s Mideast success has to do with big strategic decisions that reversed Barack Obama’s approach. Trump’s policy of isolating the mad mullahs of Iran instead of coddling them included withdrawing from Obama’s misbegotten nuclear pact, reimposing harsh economic sanctions and taking out Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the military leader whose specialty was spreading death and mayhem.
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At the same time, Trump reduced our troop presence in hot spots and became the most supportive American president Israel has ever known. The result, Charles Lipson writes in Spectator USA, is that Trump “has forced all Arab-Muslim states in the region to choose between placating the mullahs and making a common front against them. The Bahrain and UAE agreements with Israel show that they are choosing to oppose – not appease – Iran.”
Obama, by comparison, got an emboldened, aggressive Iran and no peace treaties between Arabs and Israel. But he did get a Nobel Peace Prize.
This column first appeared in the New York Post.
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