Mazzuca: From the jungle to the swamp
Understandably the president is sometimes described as a street brawler because when you’ve spent most of your life in the Manhattan real estate market, the “Hit me and I’ll hit you back twice as hard” attitude is necessary just to survive.
And that’s precisely the worldview the president brought with him when he left the concrete jungle of Manhattan and waded into the Washington swamp. So I thought it might be interesting to look at the results of this street brawler’s vision, “Make American prosperous and strong,” and his mission “America first.”
Immediately upon taking office, the president took a good economy and through tax cuts and deregulation super-charged it into an economy that’s the envy of the world, and arguably the most dynamic economy in history. At the same time, he understood we could ill afford to be subject to the whims and vagaries of mullahs and sheiks in the Middle East as we were during the oil embargo of the 1970s, so the administration began transforming the nation from a net energy importer to becoming the world’s largest energy exporter.
Next up was addressing a depleted military. Recall, shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Gen. James Mattis told Congress our military was incapable of deterring Russian or Chinese aggression. Three years later, our armed forces are unsurpassed in technology, mobility and flexibility.
With a surging economy, energy independence and an abler military the president could begin implementing his strategies in earnest. He began by orchestrating the creation of a new Global Center for Combating Extremism in Riyadh Saudi Arabia, a 55-nation U.S./Arab/Muslim coalition, that as a practical matter not only addresses terrorism but also serves to isolate and counter Iranian influence in the region.
On the other side of the world, the president knew North Korea was the most serious threat to world stability, so he offered Kim Jong-un an olive branch while engaging him in talks to denuclearize. The left derided the president for his overture.
But considering that from Eisenhower to Obama no president has had any meaningful success in dealing with North Korea, the president chose to do something different. He offered North Korea economic prosperity in exchange for denuclearization, but without easing sanctions. Now Kim may shoot off another rocket tomorrow morning, but consider, since the president and Kim Jong-un first shook hands, North Korea has tested neither a nuclear device nor an ICBM.
Meanwhile, this past year the administration further strengthened our economy by negotiating bipartisan trade deals with Canada, Mexico, China and Japan while imposing sweeping new sanctions on Putin’s Russia to punish Moscow for its attempts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.
The president also cajoled NATO into honoring its commitments to the dismay of the left, but NATO’s Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg publicly thanked the president for pressuring its 28 member countries to increase their defense contributions.
And lest we forget, on Inauguration Day 2017 an estimated 35,000 ISIS fighters held approximately 17,500 square miles of territory in Iraq and Syria. Three years later, 1,000 or so ISIS fighters occupy roughly 1,900 square miles of mostly barren Syrian Desert. And last October, American Special Forces took out the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. ISIS may not be dead, but it’s been absolutely eviscerated.
Additionally, the administration continues to increase economic pressure on Iran and most recently, the E-3 (the British, French and Germans) has joined the U.S. in pressuring Iran at the UN all while the elimination of Qassim Soleimani sent a clear message to the Iranians and the rest of the world — kill an American and suffer the consequences.
From almost any standpoint I think a booming economy, energy independence, a revitalized military, trade deals with our four largest trading partners, a decimated ISIS, a solid overture to North Korea without any give-a-ways, an Arab coalition against Iran, restored deterrence including an unambiguous red line for the world to see are pretty positive outcomes.
Now, if the president’s tweets, boasts and other peevish behavior bother you, well each of us has to decide what’s really important for the country. But I’m reminded of the saying, “The skill of the surgeon is far more important than the bedside manner.”
Yes, we must still deal with immigration, health care, the environment, gun violence, infrastructure, abortion, and other issues — but those matters require a Congress focused on legislation rather than phony Russian hoaxes and impeachment.
Question of the day: Why do the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune; and why did you just try singing the two songs above?
Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes biweekly for the Vail Daily. Follow him on his blog at butchmazzuca.com.