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5 Years Ago, Trump Did What Clinton, Bush and Obama Couldn't

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On Dec. 6, 2017, then-President Donald Trump did something that his three immediate predecessors never could: He officially recognized Jerusalem as the rightful capital of Israel and moved the U.S. Embassy there.

At the time of the announcement, Trump said the move was in the best interests of the “pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

“Israel is a sovereign nation with the right, like every other sovereign nation, to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this is a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace,” Trump said.

What made this move so remarkable was that Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both vowed to make it, but they never came through. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, acknowledged that “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel.”

But it was Trump who stuck his neck out for our closest ally in the Middle East and officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital as a matter of foreign policy.

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On Twitter, a pro-Trump account celebrated the five-year anniversary by saying, “Bill Clinton promised to do it. George W. Bush promised to do it. Barack Obama promised to do it. But only one president actually did it.”

This was not Trump’s only success regarding Israel during his presidency.

Is Jerusalem the rightful capital of Israel?

In 2020, Trump mediated the historic Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and several Arab states. The accords were a testament to Trump’s skill in international diplomacy.

And Trump’s success was not limited to Israel. He was the president who finally brought North Korea’s enigmatic dictator Kim Jong Un to the negotiating table.

Trump was also the first president in decades whose presidency saw America involved in no new wars. In essence, he strengthened our allies and kept our adversaries in check.

Now contrast this with the leadership of President Joe Biden. Biden’s entire foreign policy can be summed up in two disasters.

The first is the withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, which saw the country fall under complete Taliban control once again.

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The other is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year, a war that many believe was encouraged by Biden’s failure in Afghanistan.

And Biden’s foreign policy problems are far from over. With China taking a more aggressive stance toward Taiwan, we may see yet another foreign policy disaster unfold on his watch.

Was Trump’s foreign policy perfect? No. But it did demand respect for our nation and kept us out of any new military confrontations.

Trump set an example for other presidents to follow: We must show strength on the international stage, otherwise we invite aggression from foreign adversaries.

Trump’s successes in Israel and elsewhere show us how far a strong foreign policy can take us.

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Peter Partoll is a commentary writer for the Western Journal and a Research Assistant for the Catholic Herald. He earned his bachelor's degree at Hillsdale College and recently finished up his masters degree at Royal Holloway University of London. You can follow him on Twitter at @p_partoll.




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