In France, everything has been written about the new U.S president, as long as it could relay the most negative image possible. In a country sometimes bathed in an anti-Americanism inherited from Gaullism and communism, major political religions of the post-war era, exacerbated by the Bush years -- it experienced a noticeable lull at the arrival of former President Barack Obama. The election of Donald Trump has the effect of an avalanche.
For many, America had foundered, would never recover and the archetypal image of the uneducated, violent cowboy, fed on hamburgers, would now finally stick to this uncouth country -- too powerful, too capitalist and actually distressed by injustice and inequality.
But beyond the systematic and cleverly orchestrated detestation that the new American president engenders, it is clear that after eight years of the soft and partisan management of Obama (one will remember his hallucinatory Cairo speech, his bow of allegiance to the King of Saudi Arabia, and especially his passivity to the atrocities committed by Iran, Syria and their proxies) powerful America is back at the front of the stage.
The U.S. is no longer simply the paralyzed observer of a rise in violence, as in those terrifying scenes in movies where zombies multiply without anyone knowing how to contain, counter or stop them. Since the sheriff is back in town fighting the zombies, the zombies are fighting back.
As soon as President Trump arrived in the White House, in fact, he rolled up his sleeves to try to find solutions to the increasing threats to world peace, based on a sound principle appreciated by great leaders such as Churchill: Si vis pacem para bellum. If you want peace, prepare for war.
To no one's surprise, and possibly for many reasons, the Nobelized pacifist, Obama, asked to have a bust of Winston Churchill removed from the Oval Office on day one; Trump asked for it back on day one.
In 1938, while Chamberlain and Daladier, with their pallid complexions and sad smiles, congratulated themselves on having abandoned Czechoslovakia to Hitler's hands in exchange for a promise of peace that rapidly turned out to be just the prelude to the deadliest war in history, Churchill summed up the situation with the scathing phrase: "They had to choose between dishonor and war. They have chosen dishonor and they will have war."
One can only wonder how Churchill would have judged Obama.
Iran was on the brink of capitulating. It had already been listed by the U.S. Department of State as the world's leading promoter of terrorism, and one with nuclear, hegemonic and genocidal ambitions. History will undoubtedly remember that it was Obama (of the Iraqi debacle; of the cowardly abandonment of his ambassador, tortured to death in Benghazi; of threats never followed up when Assad crossed the U.S. president's own "red line" and gassed his own people, and of lying repeatedly to his own people about matters from healthcare choices to videos supposedly having caused the Benghazi attack, to name a few) that allowed the Ayatollahs to consolidate their imperialist aggression against a backdrop of terrorism and the denial of human rights.
This soft and non-interventionist philosophy, also adopted by former President Jimmy Carter, had already enabled Muslim extremists to overthrow the Shah of Iran. President Bill Clinton was fooled by North Korea in 1994 into negotiating economic aid in exchange for a promise to respect the non-proliferation treaty signed in 1985; the North Koreans simply took the money and used it to finance the nuclear program it had been given them to stop.
This political blindness, deliberate or not, also allowed President Obama to celebrate his diplomatic "victory" of ostensibly bringing in Iran from the cold, when it was clear all along that all Iran wanted to get was colder. Iran continues its imperialist expansion, its financing of terrorists, and its support for Hamas and Hezbollah, and, of course its long-range missile development program.
President Trump, however, in just four months, seems to have learned the lesson of Churchill. Take, for example, three of the new president's actions.
First there was the massive bombing of the Al-Sha'ayrate air base, after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had ordered the Syrian army to massacre part of the population of Khan Sheikhoun with sarin gas.
Unlike Obama, Trump had promised -- probably foolishly: the promise seems to have been interpreted as a green light to murder -- not to intervene in Syria. If the new U.S. president changed his mind, it is all to his honor, for this reversal was born of a vision of horror: children and babies suffocating, gassed.
The second action was born at the same time, when 59 Tomahawk missiles sent a clear message to the rest of the world through the destruction of the air base from which the gas-carrying planes had taken off, President Trump dined in Mar-a-Lago with his Chinese counterpart. "By the way," he announced to Xi Jinping while dessert was served, "we have just bombed Syria." With the arrival of the "most beautiful piece of chocolate cake," years of failed diplomacy were undone.
Finally, President Trump should be recognized for inducing China even symbolically to loosen its ties to its North Korean ally by slowdowns of "tourist" flights between Beijing and Pyongyang, and by blocking shipments of coal, and other mild promises, at least until the U.S. looks the other way.
In addition, NATO countries, protected by the American umbrella, recently seem to have felt inspired to pay America their 2%, thus honoring their agreements, and have also begun to develop a section for fighting terrorism -- a program evidently long forbidden.
In addition, a new strand of American foreign policy is now opening up. Recently, Israel celebrated the 69th anniversary of its independence, and this week Israel will mark 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem, liberated in 1967 from its illegal capture by Jordan in 1948, followed by Jordan's ethnic cleaning of Jews and the illegal confiscation of their property. The White House announced the resumption of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, provided that it ceases to finance and incite terrorism by making its child-killers national heroes and wage-earners funded by the West
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will no longer be able to continue to pretend to prepare his people for peace while at the same time calling for murder. About 10% of the Palestinian budget is spent on the salaries of terrorists imprisoned in Israel, and the prisoners' families.
Abbas evidently omitted this "detail" in his statements to the press during his recent visit to the White House.
Trump has apparently decided that on his visit to Israel this week, he will not announce the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem -- a move that will only make him look less strong to Arab leaders. They may not like all promises that are kept, but they do deeply respect and trust those who keep them. If promises are not kept to a friend, the thinking goes, why would they be kept to us? They will therefore be less happy with any promises to counter Shiite threats -- considerably more important to them than the location of an embassy. As Plato, Churchill and even Osama bin Laden understood, people respect only a strong horse, especially when one's adversaries can only survive by creating conflicts to distract their citizens from unaccountable governance. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu observed:
"Israel has clearly stated its position to the US and to the world multiple times. Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem won't harm the peace process. The opposite is true. It will correct a historic injustice by advancing the [peace process] and shattering a Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem isn't Israel's capital."
By recognizing the rights of Jerusalem's historical occupants of 3,000 years -- despite the lies of UNESCO and other UN organizations engulfed by the Arabs' automatic majority -- Trump could well demonstrate a new force that would elevate him to the same stature as Churchill, who said he regarded Islamism as the "greatest retrograde force of all time." No wonder Obama did not want his bust.
(Image source: Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Pierre Rehov, born and raised in North Africa, is a war reporter and documentary filmmaker specializing in counter-terrorism. His latest film, responding to UNESCO, is "Unveiling Jerusalem".