Editor’s note: This commentary is by Deborah Bucknam, a St. Johnsbury-based attorney and the vice chair of the Vermont Republican Party.
One of President Trump’s overlooked achievements is his spectacular foreign success. The statistics are stunning.
The Center for Systemic Peace, an organization that is no friend of President Trump, has gathered statistics on deaths from political violence — civil wars, international wars, terrorist attacks — from 1946 to 2019. According to its calculations, during the eight years of the Obama administration deaths from political violence totaled 1,388, 650. Conflicts in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Nigeria topped the charts. On average, there were 173,581 annual deaths from political violence during the Obama years. That number was a reduction from the previous 30 years, where deaths from political violence averaged 262,760 per year.
During the first three years of the Trump administration, according to the Center for Systemic Peace, worldwide deaths from political violence totaled 6,790, averaging 2263 deaths per year.
This is likely the lowest number of worldwide deaths from political violence—as a percentage of the world population — in world history. It is not an exaggeration to conclude that world peace has been achieved during the Trump administration.
This is no coincidence.
The Middle East and Northern Africa have been hotspots of conflicts for decades, if not centuries. In an event ignored by the main stream media because it did not fit into their narrative of the president’s alleged Islamophobia, President Trump’s administration worked with Arab and Islamic countries to organize a summit in May 2017. The two day Arab Islamic American Summit, was attended by 54 Arab and Islamic nations. On his first foreign policy trip, Trump spoke to the delegates, outlining his vision for world peace. In a remarkable speech that combined a celebration of Arab and Islamic culture with a strong message against extremism, Trump said: “I stand before you as a representative of the American People, to deliver a message of friendship and hope. … The United States is eager to form closer bonds of friendship, security, culture and commerce. … Our vision is one of peace, security, and prosperity — in this region and the world.”
Trump achieved concrete success at that summit as well, just four months after his inauguration. He reached agreements on defense cooperation with Saudi Arabia, and opened a new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology located in Saudi Arabia.
This began behind the scenes diplomatic work by the Trump Administration which culminated in recognition of Israel by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and now Sudan, this fall.
This Middle East diplomacy has been made more effective by the Trump administration’s policies which resulted in our energy independence for the first time in 75 years. No longer is the United States beholden to Middle East oil—and that has provided enormous leverage in negotiating with Arab and Islamic states.
The olive branch to Islamic countries was combined with tough military actions which destroyed the ISIS caliphate, whose members were was torturing and murdering thousands, including women and children, and the assassination of terrorist masterminds Soleimani and Al Baghdadi. Trump’s tough sanctions against Iran have declawed that terrorist sponsoring nation.
This year, the Trump administration achieved another breakthrough in another centuries old conflict between the Christian Serbs and the Muslims of Kosovo, where only 20 years ago the Serbs were engaged in the chilling practice of “ethnic cleansing”. Serbia and Kosovo agreed to normalize relations, and Kosovo has agreed to place their embassies in Jerusalem — a first for a Muslim nation. The agreements also contain provisions where both Serbia and Kosovo designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and support the decriminalization of homosexuality around the world, all thanks to the diplomacy of the Trump administration.
Trump’s policies have contained Russia’s malign influence, resulting in fewer worldwide conflicts. Here, Trump’s energy polices have helped by providing European nations with the option to purchase gas from the United States instead of totally depending on Russia. According to the Washington Examiner, by 2019, natural gas sales to Europe from the U.S. surged 300%. And just two days ago, the U.S. announced an agreement with coal and gas dependent Poland to provide funds for development of nuclear energy, so that it will not remain dependent on Russian energy.
Ukraine’s sovereignty was violated by a Russian invasion of its territory during the Obama years, with continued Russian aggression throughout eastern Ukraine by Russian backed “rebels” and “volunteers”. Ukraine has staved off further aggression with the help of the Trump administration’s policy of providing lethal defensive weapons to the country. President Trump’s insistence on NATO members’ payment of contributions to the organization has strengthened NATO, and the administration’s military and economic support for Eastern Europe has reduced Russia’s ability to act.
Just before President Trump was inaugurated, President Obama, told him North Korea was the top national security issue, with its increasingly aggressive nuclear weapons program. With President Trump’s personal diplomacy, North Korea’s threats have been reduced, and North Korea’s saber rattling with long range ballistic missile tests has ceased.
Finally, Trump has been bringing American troops home. As Australian law professor David Flint said when he nominated President Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize, “What he has done with the Trump Doctrine is that he has decided he would no longer have America in endless wars, wars which achieve nothing but the killing of thousands of young Americans.”
World Peace is a fragile thing. Human conflict is the norm. But, at least for a time, the dream of world peace has been achieved, thanks in large part to the foreign policy successes of the Trump administration.