Trump's Jerusalem Pronouncement Was a Disaster

On Tuesday, Donald Trump spent the day making calls to Muslim leaders, letting them know he was going to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which each of them warned him in turn would have disastrous fallout.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned Trump it would destabilize the peace process and called it "an unacceptable step." King Abdullah of Jordan warned Trump it would a provocative move that would have grave implications for the region. Turkish President Recep Erdogan called it "the red line for Muslims." Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said it would be regarded as a hostile move against Arabs and Muslims.

All of which Trump, who has routinely engaged in rank Islamophobia, evidently considers a feature rather than a bug of the decision.

So yesterday he plowed ahead, despite warnings from foreign leaders, including our allies, and from foreign policy experts in the U.S.

[The New York Times has a complete transcript. Video may autoplay at link.]

Naturally, it has been received precisely as Trump was warned it would be and as anyone with even a cursory understanding of the issue anticipated it would be. That is, badly.

Rick Noack at the Washington Post: U.S. Allies Reject Trump's Jerusalem Pronouncement as 'Very Dangerous' and 'Catastrophic'.
Important U.S. allies in Europe and the Middle East such as Britain, France, Germany, and Saudi Arabia criticized Trump over his decision and questioned the wisdom of such a move, both prior to and following the announcement. Saudi Arabia's Royal Court issued a statement Thursday, calling the decision "dangerous" and "irresponsible." Similar concerns were voiced by the United Arab Emirates.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded to the pronouncement on Wednesday evening, saying that the "German government does not support this position, because the status of Jerusalem is to be resolved in the framework of a two-state solution," according to a tweet by her spokesman.

Her words were echoed by French President Emmanuel Macron, who criticized the move as "a regrettable decision that France does not approve of and goes against international law and all the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council."

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson similarly indicated that such a move could further disrupt efforts to reach peace in the region. ...British Prime Minister Theresa May indicated that she would discuss the decision with Trump and emphasized that Britain's position to not recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital remained unchanged.

In the Netherlands, criticism of Trump was unusually strong. "We think it's an unwise step and a counterproductive step. If we want to solve at some moment the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis, we need a two-state solution, and a one-sided step is not going to help," Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra said in an interview Wednesday...

Perhaps the strongest warning came out of Sweden, where Foreign Minister Margot Wallström said the changes are "obviously going to lead to massive effects and unease."

"It's catastrophic," Wallström said.

Belgium's Foreign Minister Didier Reynders criticized Trump's move as "very dangerous," adding that it made a surge in violence in the region more likely.

...Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, the younger brother of King Abdullah II, tweeted the strongest statement by any Jordanian figure, writing: "What an exceptionally irresponsible and dangerous step by Mr Trump that will destroy any remaining US credibility as a broker in the Middle East Peace Process and deal a severe blow to any hope for a JUST and lasting peace #Jerusalem."

...In Russia, the Kremlin also joined the list of nations fearing that such a move will exacerbate tensions between Israel and Palestinians, saying that the situation could worsen as a result.

...Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the U.S. plan is "unlawful" and could have "irreversible consequences" in the region.
Trump has managed to bring nations from Britain to the Netherlands to Saudi Arabia to Russia into agreement: They all believe he is a reckless nightmare.

And they are not wrong.

Trump has once again made an unconscionable and indefensible foreign policy decision that will endanger lives and leave the United States less safe. No nation that becomes completely alienated from allies is safe.

That's a principle which seems to be lost on a president with no understanding of global policy, no sense of history, no talent for diplomacy, and no personal friends.

Again, I am left feeling stuck in grief that he is our president. And that one of our nation's greatest statespeople, Hillary Clinton, is not.

* * *

In addition to the horrendous foreign policy implications of Trump's address, it was also a failure of basic speech-making, as Trump slurred through the latter portion of the speech, again raising questions about his health — although I agree with The Daily Show's Trevor Noah that it was likely a denture malfunction.

Of course Trump would never admit to having fake teeth, despite the fact that there's no shame at all in having dentures, so White House spokesman Raj Shah was sent out to make the ludicrous claim that "His throat was dry."

Maybe that explanation would fly with aliens who have never experienced being a human with a dry throat, but I daresay it's unlikely to convince many Earthlings.

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