Why Did Donald Trump Pick Saudi Arabia as His First Trip Overseas?
Donald Trump’s first trip overseas as the American president was to Saudi Arabia. Many — including us — were astonished by his decision, but as we take a closer to the visit and how beneficial it is to the American/Saudi relations, we were proven otherwise.
Not only did Trump’s visit seal a massive weapons deal that was reported to be worth nearly $110 billion; and $350 billion over 10 years. It also gathered Trump with Muslim leaders from all across the Arab world to help fight terrorism, and opened the World Center for Countering Extremist Thought in Riyadh.
You’ll find no surprise when you comprehend the importance of the deal to the American economy. When you think about it, you slowly realize that Trump was the perfect person to broker this deal. After all, he is a businessman.
Differences between Trump’s current friendly-tone, and the one used during the elections
Most commentators have noticed how Trump’s tone dramatically changed from the one he had during the elections. Trump has previously said before that he thinks that “Islam hates us,” and proposed a ban on all Muslims entering the United States.
In a different manner, his new tone that has been used in his recent visit could be considered as a much more Muslim-friendly one. Trump’s new tone rejects the idea that the fight against extremism is a battle between religions, but rather a “battle between good and evil” that should be fought by “decent people of all religions.”
Trump has joined forces with Muslims leaders to help put an end to radical Islam, but unlike the two previous American presidents, he didn’t mention democratization as a way to end terrorism. Instead, he said: “We are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership — based on shared interests and values — to pursue a better future for us all.”
In a Washington Post article, Trump was criticized for mocking Obama for bowing to a Saudi king then finding himself doing the same exact thing. However, Trump was said to have bowed down so he could respectfully receive the top civilian honor medal from the Saudi king.
What was quite bewildering was the fact how everyone focused on the bow, but neglected how Trump and his family were so comfortable during their visit to Riyadh. If that could prove anything, it would definitely prove Trump’s skills as a businessman, regardless of what he thinks of the Saudi nation (whom he previously accused of being the masterminds behind 9\11).
The American/Saudi Relations
The history of the American/Saudi relations could be traced back to 1945, as King Abdulaziz met US president Franklin D. Roosevelt on board the USS Murphy in the Suez Canal, to lay the foundations for decades-long partnership between the two countries. Two main themes emerged from this meeting that helped in shaping the partnership; security and oil.
Since then, those two core themes remained the most important ties that bonds the two countries. Understanding those two themes are critical in comprehending the the history of the relationship.
In 1975, Saudi Arabia and the US signed a $2 billion worth of military contracts, as you can see in the picture below.
It is also important to understand that the US would always make decisions based on real-world outcomes, not an inflexible ideology; thus, maintaining Saudi Arabia as a strategic ally is more important than the anti-Islamic tone that Trump was adopting to mobilize right-wing voters.
It could be concluded that there is more to Trump’s visit than what we know from the image he’s promoting.