Transactional Trump


Bret Stephens is right on Trump, wrong on Obama (“Worse Than Obama?” Between the Lines).

Trump has consistently shown that he acts from a purely transactional perspective. So, he feels no allegiance to the Kurds or any of America’s long-term allies and derides NATO, which came to America’s defense after 9/11.

For decades America has given billions of dollars in aid to Israel because there was a bipartisan agreement that it was the right thing to do because Israel was a democratic country that shared American values. Our unflinching support for Israel hurts America’s relations with the Arab world and many Muslim countries. From a “realpolitik” or transactional perspective, this was not a good choice. But from a moral and ethical perspective it is the right way for America to behave.

One day Trump will listen to some commentator or conspiracy nut who says, “Israel is rich, it has universal health care, why should we pay so much for its defense.” Yes, Obama pushed back against Israeli policies that he (and many Israelis and American Jews) disagreed with. But he also provided major funding for the Iron Dome system and got the largest aid package in history for Israel. And the multinational Iran nuclear deal was supported by many Israeli defense and intelligence officials while turning back the clock on Iran’s race to a nuclear bomb. Thanks to Trump there is no reason for Iran not to pursue nuclear weapons, and with intensified sanctions there is no incentive for Iran to hold Hezbollah back.