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Trump's foreign policy: Follow the money

16 159 520
19.11.2017

US President Donald Trump began his term by banning refugees and immigrants from six Muslim-majority countries and pushing forward with plans to build a wall between the US and Mexico. The promise of new isolationist foreign policy prompted praise from his base for his commitment to "putting America first".

Then, in what seemed to be an about-face, he ordered a unilateral attack on an Assad regime airbase in Syria, followed by aggressive talk about attacking North Korea - two moves that disappointed many supporters.

Since he took office, analysts have been scrambling to explain his foreign policy: some have decided it is a renewal of the Monroe Doctrine, while others say it abandons the Monroe doctrine and gives China new leverage in the western hemisphere. Still others say it is too premature to try to pin down Trump's foreign policy doctrine in "a fluid world".

Quite honestly, the "Trump doctrine" does not deserve so much thought and analysis - it is way simpler than that. Trump has consistently sought to make his foreign policy about business and his ego, nothing more and nothing less. Countries that have business to offer get his special attention.

Trump made many negative comments about Muslims and the Middle East long before he became president, from saying he would consider closing mosques in the US to claiming that if the US had taken the oil from Iraq after its invasion, "you wouldn't have ISIS" (referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). Early on he promised a "Muslim ban" and he delivered on his promise - issuing not one, but three "bans".

The latest iteration of these "bans" includes a line-up of countries that are either war-torn, or antagonistic, or both: Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and bizarrely, Chad. The last state had the "audacity" to be involved in a tax dispute with Exxon Mobil, the former employer of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. All of these countries have nothing to offer in terms of business right now and are easily "banable".

Trump's negative comments about Muslims and his Muslim "bans", however, have not prevented him from doing business with some other Muslim countries. Take Saudi Arabia, for example.

"Saudi Arabia [...] I get along great with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much," Trump said during a campaign rally in 2015. In the 1990s, Trump was bailed out by one of Saudi Arabia's richest men, Alwaleed bin Talal (who is currently held in Riyadh). Before taking office, Trump registered eight companies in Saudi Arabia.

Unsurprisingly then, Riyadh was the first capital that he visited........

© Al Jazeera