...I just can't bring myself to feel guilty about this one:
President Trump just returned from nine days in the Middle East and Europe that demonstrated his America First approach to ensuring security and prosperity for our nation. America will not lead from behind. This administration will restore confidence in American leadership as we serve the American people.
America First does not mean America alone. It is a commitment to protecting and advancing our vital interests while also fostering cooperation and strengthening relationships with our allies and partners. A determination to stand up for our people and our way of life deepens our friends’ respect for America.
The president is unequivocal in declaring that America’s primary interest is the safety and security of our citizens. In discussions overseas, Mr. Trump encouraged others to join the U.S. in doing more to defeat the terrorist organizations that threaten peaceful nations around the world. He challenged leaders of more than 50 Muslim-majority countries to stand together “against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians.”
A strong stand against terrorism is consistent with values common across all the world’s great religions. After the president’s historic remarks, leader after leader of Muslim-majority nations reaffirmed the president’s message and committed to confronting the terrorism and extremism that plague all civilized societies. To answer the call and address these grave concerns, Saudi Arabia launched a new Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology, and several Middle Eastern nations signed a memorandum of understanding to create the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, with the mission of cutting off funds to terrorist organizations.
Ensuring American economic prosperity is also critical to our national interests. In Saudi Arabia, President Trump helped facilitate $110 billion in defense investments that will strengthen regional and American security and create American jobs. He also announced nearly $270 billion in agreements with private-sector enterprises from the U.S., spanning the financial-services, energy, technology, mining and manufacturing industries. These efforts will enhance job creation and investment in America.
While meeting with European Union leaders in Brussels, the president reiterated his concern about our trade deficits with many European nations. He also emphasized the importance of reciprocity in trade and commerce. Simply put, America will treat others as they treat us. At the Group of Seven in Taormina, Sicily, where President Trump further solidified his relationships with leaders of the world’s largest market economies, the members came together in the official communiqué to stand firm “against all unfair trade practices” and to foster a truly level playing field.
Strong alliances and economically thriving partners are a third vital American interest. As the president stated in Brussels, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is rooted in “the courage of our people, the strength of our resolve, and the commitments that bind us together as one.” While reconfirming America’s commitment to NATO and Article 5, the president challenged our allies to share equitably the responsibility for our mutual defense. We came away with new outcomes for the first time in decades: More allies are stepping up to meet their defense commitments. By asking for more buy-in, we have deepened our relationships. That is not surprising. Alliances based on mutual respect and shared responsibility are strong. And strong alliances bolster American power.
In Israel, the president affirmed that a secure, prosperous and democratic Jewish state is central to American interests in the region. The president also met with Palestinian leadership because he understands the importance of American engagement in the pursuit of a historic peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.
We are asking a lot of our allies and partners. But in return America will once again be a true friend to our partners and the worst foe to our enemies. The president’s visit showed the power of both competing to advance interests and engaging to develop relationships and foster cooperation. We have a vital interest in taking the lead internationally to advance American military, political and economic strength.
We engage with the world not to impose our way of life but to “secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.” That means identifying the interests and principles that make America uncommon and advancing them in the Middle East, with our NATO allies, with the G-7 nations and beyond.
The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a “global community” but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage. We bring to this forum unmatched military, political, economic, cultural and moral strength. Rather than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace it.
At every stop in our journey, we delivered a clear message to our friends and partners: Where our interests align, we are open to working together to solve problems and explore opportunities. We let adversaries know that we will not only take their measure, deter conflict through strength, and defend our interests and values, but also look for areas of common interest that allow us to work together. In short, those societies that share our interests will find no friend more steadfast than the United States. Those that choose to challenge our interests will encounter the firmest resolve.
This historic trip represented a strategic shift for the United States. America First signals the restoration of American leadership and our government’s traditional role overseas—to use the diplomatic, economic and military resources of the U.S. to enhance American security, promote American prosperity, and extend American influence around the world.
Lt. Gen. McMaster is the White House national security adviser. Mr. Cohn is director of the National Economic Council.