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G20 Summit: Trump’s strategic vision as strong as Reagan and Thatcher

Written By | Jul 2, 2019
Trump, Strategic Vision, Xi, Kim, Reagan, Thatcher

President Donald J. Trump participates in a press conference Saturday, June 29, 2019, at the Imperial Hotel Osaka after attending the G20 Japan Summit in Osaka, Japan. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

WASHINGTON, DC: President Trump has returned from the G20 summit in Osaka Japan in triumph. During his time in Asia, the President reset relations with both China and North Korea. All while continuing to implement his strategic vision for the United States to a worldwide audience. President Trump engaged in talks with Russia to begin resolving regional disputes. The President reinforced our relationships with our allies in Japan and South Korea.

Then he reengaged  with Xi Jinping to bring the China trade agreement closer to fruition.

Trump capped all that with a stirring “spontaneous” offer to meet Kim Jong Un at the DMZ in South Korea. The pandemonium, drama, and historical nature of the next two days completely eclipsed much of the G20 summit.

However, it totally reinforced Donald J. Trumps position as the preeminent player on the world stage.

Trump dominates the G20

Trump’s attended bilateral meetings with nine countries, including Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, and Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan. He had meetings with Germany’s Angela Merkel, who is on shaky ground at home, no pun intended. Merkel seemed like a fading apparition at the conference. Increasingly as irrelevant as Theresa May.

Emmanuel Macron, like Canada’s Justin Trudeau, ever the genial presences, were there as well.

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Trump’s encounter with Vladimir Putin was a chance to open a more rigorous engagement with Russia on issues of bilateral conflict. Syria, Iran, and Ukraine come to mind. But Putin was ultimately a sideshow to the expected main event, the meeting with Xi Jinping.

The surprise visit that followed with Kim Jong Un was the dramatic spectacle underscoring Trump’s utter dominance of world events.

America’s new strategic balance

Whether it is Iran, Mexico, China, Japan, South Korea, Syria, Yemen, Libya or the Middle East, US adversaries are having to respond to Trump’s actions. Rather than responding to them defensively. The United States is on diplomatic, economic, and Great Power offense for the first time in a generation.

The results have been dramatic in favor of America and its interests.

Not since Ronald Reagan has an American President had and then executed a strategic vision for the United States with such immediate success in destabilizing the playing field to our advantage.

Historically however, since the fall of the Berlin Wall and victory in the Cold War, the United States largely squandered the peace that followed. It is a litany of Presidential failure.

2 Bushes and Bill Clinton: Incoherence and inexperience

George Bush the elder lacked a coherent vision for a New World Order. The elder Bush stood on the sidelines while Yugoslavia broke apart and descended into civil war. H.W. Bush also let Russia ease into a kleptocracy under Boris Yeltsin.  He never had a Marshall plan for Russia or Eastern Europe. Squandered his victory in the Gulf War.

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Bill Clinton took four years to learn how to be President. Disasters in Somalia and a feeble grasp of foreign policy led to a tepid projection of American power. Bush the elder was instrumental in the original NAFTA agreement with Mexico. Clinton was instrumental in getting China into the WTO.

Bush the Younger was completely defined by his response to 9/11. Catastrophic wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that continue to this day. Wars that sucked trillions from the American economy and cost thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of lives on both sides.

Meanwhile, during the Bush years, Vladimir Putin is rebuilding Russia, and Jiang Zemin is rebuilding China.

The tragedy of Barack Obama’s Presidency

Barack Obama presided over the continued decimation of American status and resolve around the world. Obama let the Russians take over half of Ukraine and intervene in Syria. He squandered all the gains in Iraq and allowed ISIS to take over half of Syria and Iraq, including the city of Mosul. (Barack Obama Was a Foreign-Policy Failure -The 44th president of the United States promised to bring change but mostly drove the country deeper into a ditch.)

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Obama strengthened the Ayatollah in Tehran at every turn, especially with the Iran Nuclear Deal. He turned Egypt over to the Muslim Brotherhood. Killed Quadaffi and left Libya a broken shambles.  Obama ran guns to Al Quaeda in Libya and then transferred those guns to Al Quaeda in Syria.

Which is what Benghazi, and the death of four Americans, including Ambassador Stevens, was all about. (Is the Obama Administration to blame for Benghazi? – The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report found the attacks were preventable)

Obama left the Middle East a smoking ruin. Million’s dead. Obama Administration foreign policies are responsible for the refugee crisis that led to millions of refugees swarming into Europe. He hated Israel and wasn’t shy about making it known.  (Alan Dershowitz: The Jerusalem conflict is all Barack Obama’s fault)

The Chinese did not respect Obama, building islands in the South China Sea. Putin laughed at him. (James Carafano: Russia is a menace, but blame Putin and Obama, NOT Trump)

Nobody feared Barack Hussein Obama.

He made Jimmy Carter look like a portrait of firm resolve.

President Trump: Changing our policy from defense to offense

Donald Trump has changed the parameters of our relationships with both our adversaries and our allies for the better. For both the United States and the other party. He has changed our foreign policy from one that is reactive to world events to one that seeks to transform world events. From defense to offense.

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Trump has an actual carefully articulated plan of action that he is meticulously carrying out. His critics be damned. It actually resembles Margaret Thatcher as much as it resembles Ronald Reagan. The effective resolve necessary to disrupt and transform events has been a powerful force in world affairs.

Trump has rebuilt the American military in a few short years. Supercharged the economy and our future prospects with 3% annual growth in the economy. He has cut regulations enormously, reduced taxes, made America competitive internationally again, and reduced unemployment to record levels.

Trump: Using trade as a brutally effective weapon

And he has used Trade as a brutally effective weapon on the world stage. In China and Mexico. In Iran and North Korea. With South Korea, Japan, and the EU. In all cases, Trump has disrupted the status quo and changed the parameters of the playing field.

China and Mexico are now having to respond to our moves. Iran is no longer the only one playing offense. Trump is effectively triumphing in altering trade agreements around the world in terms of equality and reciprocity for the United States. It is made all the more clear with China and Trump at the G20.

The Chinese economy is faltering, factories are leaving

The reality is that the Trade war is hurting China much more than the United States. Badly affecting their economy. Although in China, that means growth is slowing – going from 9% to 6%.  Most importantly, companies are shifting production out of China at an alarming rate.  (China’s 2019 growth seen slowing to 6.2 percent despite policy support: Reuters poll)

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Once companies source their production elsewhere it is not coming back.  The tariffs have had a tremendous impact on new investment. The prime beneficiaries are Mexico and Vietnam. China cannot afford the loss of factories moving elsewhere.

At some point, they will have to make a deal before the stream becomes a flood.

Xi Jinping has his own problems

Xi also has domestic politics to deal with. The weakening of the Chinese economy weakens him at home. Xi has enemies, particularly from the wing of the party that he has spent eight years purging. Even Communist hierarchies have competing interests that must be appeased.

Xi needs to get a deal done to strengthen his hand at home. He also needs a face-saving concession from Trump to allow him to proceed. Trump rightfully cut off talks in February when China reneged on a number of already negotiated key agreement points.

Trump and Xi: A deal to be made

China backed out of the US agreement because Xi met strong resistance within the ruling chambers of the Politburo and the Standing Committee. And because that is a frequent Chinese tactic. Trump didn’t take the bait. He cut off talks and waited. That’s three months more damage to the Chinese economy. He knew he would see Xi in Osaka.

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Trump and Xi agreed to resume trade negotiations. Trump gave Xi concessions on American suppliers of non-intelligence related equipment to Huawei. Xi agreed to resume buying American farm products. Both know that the final agreement will look very much like what they had agreed on in March. With minor changes.

For decades China was the doorway to North Korea.

Xi needs the deal done sooner than later, so expect a signing ceremony by the end of the year. That is if all the factories in China haven’t moved out yet. Xi’s troubles include unrest in Hong Kong and uncertainty over how to handle Trump’s overtures to North Korea.

Trump may be changing China’s role in North Korea as the President has a direct line of communication to the North Korean Leader. A North Korea that is not dependent on China is a North Korea free to unite with South Korea.

Or forge stronger ties with the United States.

In some circles in China, a unified Korea means a large uniformed army of South Korea at the border with China. These are all questions for Xi and China as the North Korean situation develops.

Trump and Kim: Not completely spontaneous

Trump’s visit was not nearly as spontaneous as is let on. Feelers and groundwork were underway for weeks. When word began to leak out at the G20 summit Trump tweeted about it with the ‘spontaneous” invitation. Then all hell broke loose in the media.

It made for spectacular television and revived serious talks with North Korea that had been moribund since February after the Hanoi Summit.

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But remember Xi Jinping had been in Pyong Jong with Kim Jong Un just days before he arrived in Japan for the G -20. It is certain that many of the events that followed were carefully choreographed in conjunction with Xi restarting the trade negotiations. There is no question that once a trade deal is done with China that the possibility of a deal with North Korea will be greatly enhanced.

Kim and North Korean internal politics

Kim faces pressures in his own country. A ruthless dictator who executes his colleagues do so largely because his colleagues are bent on doing the same to him. The Kim dynasty has been omnipresent in North Korea since the 1940s.’ But Kim also answers, obliquely, to a cadre of forces with their own power bases and networks that he must appease and placate was well.

His grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, is a legitimate revolutionary figure and fighter against Japanese occupation along the lines of Tito and Mao. North Korea was completely destroyed in the Korean War. The decades since the armistice has seen the grotesque system that is now in place evolve.

But it is this regime that has 50 to 100 nuclear weapons, and that 50 years of administrations failed to engage. The most critical stages, when they acquired their arsenal  of atomic bombs, occurred during the Obama administration.

Needing to engage to change the status quo

None of that excuses the horrors of the regime. It does explain the need to engage with Kim and North Korea to ease tensions and bring a new chapter to that part of Asia. The failure of the Hanoi summit led to turmoil in Pyong Jong, and some reported executions. But like China, it also led to a reevaluation of the need to get talks back on track.

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In both China and North Korea, Trump’s willingness to walk away and increase sanctions and tariffs, though shocking at first, led to necessary recalibration on the part of both the Chinese and the North Koreans.

Sure, Xi got to save face and Kim got Trump to cross over to North Korea. Trump got exactly what he wanted as well. Progress toward a trade deal with China that will be monumentally game changing. And progress toward a deal with North Korea that will change the face of East Asia.

Trump: A strategic vision for America

Predictably the Democrat Party Press at CNN, MSNBC, and the New York Times are attacking everything Trump has accomplished. After lying to our faces for three years during the Russia Hoax you would think they might try to cover events, instead of coloring them.

The reality is that Trump strides the world like a colossus. The most dominant political figure since Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. He is well on his way to a trade deal with China. Trump has deals underway or in the works with Mexico and Canada, Japan and South Korea, as well as the EU.

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He is confronting Iran with economics and a firm resolve. The President has a strategic vision for the EU and Great Britain and NATO that will take all three into the next century. He is confronting Russia and Putin overtly in Ukraine and the Baltics, and diplomatically in the Middle East with Syria, Turkey, and Iran.

Not since Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher

He is stabilizing a crucial relationship with Turkey, just as Erdogan’s hold on power is clearly slipping in the three largest cities where his party recently lost Mayoral elections. Trump has created a new alliance of Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia to pursue economic development and oppose Iranian aggression.

Like Reagan and Thatcher, Donald Trump has a strategic vision for America, and the dominance of the United States on the world stage. The G20 summit in Osaka and the historic events at the DMZ only underscore how much he is calling the shots in world affairs, and how others are having to respond to him.

Pax Americana, Trump style.


President Donald J. Trump participates in a press conference Saturday, June 29, 2019, at the Imperial Hotel Osaka after attending the G20 Japan Summit in Osaka, Japan. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)


L.J. Keith

LJ Keith is a non-partisan commentator taking aim at all aspects of governmental domestic and foreign policy and the American socio-political landscape with an eye toward examining the functional realities of the modern age, how they can be understood, and what context to view the changing face of life in America and its place in the world at large.