In contrast to his predecessor in the White House, President Trump showed no willingness to atone to other world leaders for his country’s actions, and seemed determined to project strength and resolve at a time when American leadership is increasingly being challenged. This was not the “leading from behind” approach of the Obama era, but a return to a more traditionally assertive US foreign policy based on clear-cut national interests.
President Trump got off to a strong start in Riyadh. After an exceedingly tough week in Washington, he was received like royalty in the capital city of an important US ally that had at times a strained relationship with the Obama administration. His speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit calling on the Muslim world to unite in defeating terrorism struck the right tone as the United States works to solidify the anti-ISIS coalition. In Saudi Arabia, the President came across as a statesman, choosing to jettison some of the sharper rhetoric that peppered his campaign speeches in favor of building bridges with Muslim allies.
Mr. Trump was similarly well received in Israel, whose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has struck a close relationship with the new US president thus far. The last eight years have been an extraordinarily tense time in terms of US-Israeli relations, but there was little sign of division between Trump and Netanyahu, and both leaders expressed a united message in warning against the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran.