The fears of being a bull in a china shop have more than likely crossed the mind of the hapless Donald J. Trump, the unpopular President of the United States, as he embarked on his first trip abroad. His first stop was the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where he performed much better than expected and delivered a prepared speech that was not offensive to the Muslim majority in that Middle Eastern nation.
Saudi Arabia and the United States are uneasy allies; the Kingdom gets a lot of American military support, which is crucial at a time when the Islamic Republic of Iran is asserting its political dominance in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has committed to purchasing $110 billion worth of armament and munitions from the U.S.; Trump was happy to welcome this purchase, which was not an easy sell for former President Obama due to the controversial military operations in Yemen. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have thus far intervened clumsily in Yemen, a country on the verge of collapse due to a fractured uprising and Al Qaeda waiting on the wings to take advantage of the chaos; it is likely that Trump either does not understand the situation or is just as confused as everyone else about how to approach Yemen.
Trump’s visit to the Kingdom and his speech in the spirit of collaboration may not have sat well with some of his most ardent supporters, Americans who admired his electoral campaign rhetoric about Saudi Arabia operatives having acted as masterminds of the September 11 attacks; however, Trump is better known as a man of many contradictions, and this just happens to be a minor one.
Trump Goes to Israel
After Saudi Arabia, Trump landed in Tel-Aviv. The American President is not very popular in Israel due to his relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a controversial leader who is not very popular either, but the two men got along great because neither one mentioned the arms deal in Saudi Arabia, which must pale in comparison to the military support that Israel gets from the U.S. It is important to note that Palestinian leaders have requested to meet with Trump; he has not rebuffed them or given them an answer in edgewise. Nothing was mentioned about the alleged leak of classified information by Trump to Russian officials just a couple of weeks before his trip to Israel. The intelligence report may have come from operatives working for Mossad inside the ranks of the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State or ISIS. If these operatives, who may be from Jordan or Lebanese, are exposed, Mossad leaders are going to be very unhappy.
Trump Meets the Pope
The next stop for Trump will be Italy and the Vatican. The leaders of a nationalist and populist Italian faction will undoubtedly be thrilled by the visit, but the fact is that the American President is not very popular in this European nation. Nonetheless, Italy is where the U.S. keeps one of its most important military bases in terms of logistics, and thus the U.S. Department of Defense will likely make sure that Trump’s visit goes smoothly.
Trump is scheduled to meet with Pope Francis, a religious leader who does not beat around the bush. There is a good chance that the Pope will mention the delicate issue of immigration in the United States; it is unclear what may come out of this meeting, but peace and compassion are always in the Pope’s foremost agenda, and thus it would be difficult for Trump to mess this up.
All in all, Trump has not caused World War III on his first trip abroad, but things are not going smoothly back at the White House, where the investigation of alleged Russian ties to the Trump campaign looms like a dark specter. To an extent, White House staffers are probably enjoying a respite for the time being.