Trump returns to White House after first global trip

Elias Hubbard
May 30, 2017

America the superpower is back.

From left to right; Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta, Guinea's President and African Union President Alpha Conde', US President Donald Trump and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni pose for a family photo of G7 leaders and Outreach partners at the Hotel San Domenico during a G7 summit in Taormina, Italy, Saturday, May 27, 2017.

President Donald Trump faced new controversies over his team's possible ties to Russian Federation as he closed out his first trip overseas Saturday, a grueling five-stop sprint that ended with the promise of an imminent decision on the much-discussed Paris climate accord.

He was welcomed at the Saudi airport by King Salman in a royal, red carpet ceremony. And after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump moved on to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and undoubtedly brought the message that even the dozens of Muslim leaders gathered in Riyadh agree that the time has come, finally, for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

While at the Vatican, Trump received from Pope Francis a copy of his 2015 papal treatise that links fossil fuels to global warming. But he forged a relationship with the leader of the world's one billion Catholics - in a meeting which by most accounts began frostily and ended warmly.

He accused the Saudis of blowing up the World Trade Center.

Then again, Saudi Arabia and Israel were pretty peeved at President Barack Obama's role in passing the nuclear deal with Iran. And that was just the middle eastern portion of the trip.

That doesn't mean they weren't annoyed.

But in his lofty praise of the Saudi royal family, through his numerous meetings with Arab authoritarians and in his speech to the assembled leaders, Trump did not raise human rights issues, instead promising "we are not here to lecture" - delivering a realpolitik view of USA alliances. We are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be or how to worship.

What's less clear is how Trump will confront those issues with the fresh perspective of his foreign travels, if at all. The pontiff sees immigration as a moral issue, and he was not afraid to say so past year.

But when Trump spoke, he sounded like anything but a typical US president. That lecture at least could not be considered a surprise.

"I think we hit a home run no matter where we are", the president said. For some reason, Trump chose to treat North Atlantic Treaty Organisation like a freeloader, even though the alliance is sending North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops to Iraq and likely will increase troop levels in Afghanistan. They didn't return his criticism with cute sound bites à la House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi or Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. At the Group of 7 summit in the coastal town of Taormina, leaders launched an aggressive, behind-the-scenes campaign to get him to stay in the Paris climate accord.

President Trump has had, according to the White House, a successful maiden trip outside the U.S. But the bad news is he has to come home.

But he instead returned to a grievance about Europe's drop in defence spending since the end of the Cold War and failed to publicly commit to NATO's founding Article V rule which stipulates that an attack on one ally is an attack against all.

In Trump's telling of the trip, recounted Saturday to a friendly crowd of USA troops in Sicily, he made strong, new friends around the world and united global leaders against terrorism with a new sense of resolve following the May 22 bombing attack in Manchester.

Before the trip, foreign-policy graybeard Robert Gates, secretary of defense under President George W. Bush and Obama, said on Face the Nation that American foreign policy needs "disruption".

Now that he's back in Washington, he will have to confront the latest developments in the federal investigation into members of his campaign's potential collusion with Russian officials during the 2016 election.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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