Trump’s clear message to the nation also alerted the world: ‘America is once again ready to lead’
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a powerful and optimistic address to the nation, President Donald Trump made his case for the road forward in his new presidency.
Labelled a “Reset” by some and “reaching for higher ground” by others, the speech before a joint session of the U.S. Congress made a renewed pitch for national unity amid populist tones echoing the “renewal of the American spirit.”
Naturally the highly anticipated address to Congress contained a broad brush view of America’s domestic agenda: economic revival, jobs, healthcare, trade, terrorism, immigration and education. Significantly, he underscored the positive economic upturn which has been characterized by soaring consumer confidence and business commitment to keep jobs from leaving the USA.
Concerning trade, President Trump shied away from much of the campaign’s high octane rhetoric and clearly stated, “I believe strongly in free trade but it also has to be fair trade. Its been a long time since we had fair trade.” He added, “We must create a level playing field for American companies and workers.” This remains vital.
Donald Trump then cut through the fog of foreign policy, admittedly clearing many of his campaign’s often misquoted rhetoric.
He began his foreign policy reset: “What we are witnessing today is the Renewal of the American Spirit; Our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead. All the nations of the world, friend or foe, will find America is soaring, America is proud, and America is free.”
First, he cited his signature war on Islamic State terrorism to “demolish and destroy ISIS, a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians, and men women and children of all faiths and beliefs. We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.” American regional Arab allies include Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf States.
He also stressed, “I have imposed new sanctions on entities and individuals who support Iran’s ballistic missile program, and reaffirmed our unbreakable alliance with the State of Israel.”
Responding to growing global threats, President Trump is calling for “one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history.” Indeed this needed buildup will mirror Ronald Reagan’s winning global defense strategy which rebuilt American power and prestige. For example, the U.S. Navy, with its dramatically expanded global mission, now deploys half the ships as during the Reagan era.
Donald Trump offered the rhetorical challenge, “To the Allies who wonder what kind of friend America will be, look no further than the heroes who wear our uniform. Our Foreign Policy calls for a direct, robust, and meaningful engagement with the world.”
He intoned, “It is American leadership based on vital security interests that we share with our allies across the globe.”
The President powerfully stated, “We strongly support NATO, an alliance forged through the bonds of two World Wars that dethroned fascism, and a Cold War that defeated communism.”
Yet he cautioned, “But our partners must meet their financial obligations.” The NATO reference was vital given his campaign’s unfocused rhetoric regarding the Atlantic Alliance.
“We expect our partners, whether in NATO, in the Middle East, or the Pacific, to take a direct and meaningful role in both strategic and military operations, and pay their fair share of the cost.” Importantly he stressed, “We will respect historic institutions, but we will also respect the sovereign rights of nations.”
There were no mentions of the brewing threat from nuclear North Korea, the South China Sea, or Syria or Iraq. Earlier the same day, in the UN Security Council, both Russia and China used a cynical double veto to shoot down a resolution on Syria.
“America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path. My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America. But we all know that America is better off, when there is less conflict, not more.”
Not mentioned are troubling planned cuts in foreign aid. Indeed overseas development assistance in which the USA proudly excels through USAID, remains part and parcel of both humanitarian and preventive diplomacy precisely as to avoid conflicts.
According to a CNN poll, “Nearly 7 in10 who watched, said the President’s proposed policies would move the country in the right direction and almost two-thirds said the president has the right priorities for the country.”
Donald Trump’s energized agenda will hopefully now clear the foreign policy fog and bring needed global clarity from the new Administration.
John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of Divided Dynamism the Diplomacy of Separated Nations: Germany, Korea, China (2014). [See pre-2011 Archives]