Newt Gingrich called out the media for their poor coverage Trump’s foreign policy decisions in favor of sensationalism, and he’s mostly correct, according to Richard Wagner

Mr. Gingrich is correct in how he describes media coverage of Trump’s first foreign trip.  But I suppose Mr. Gingrich did not closely follow the Pavlovic Today.

First, here is Gingrich’s press release.


“While the media focused on the ephemeral questions … they largely missed the real drama of the moment: a titanic shift in U.S. foreign policy occurring right before their eyes.” 

The President Just Made A Titanic Foreign Policy Shift. The Media Missed It.

By Newt Gingrich

Washington Post

May 24, 2017

While the media focused on the ephemeral questions — whether the president would use campaign rhetoric in a diplomatic setting, or how the trip would affect the Obama legacy — they largely missed the real drama of the moment: a titanic shift in U.S. foreign policy occurring right before their eyes.

Trump stood before an unprecedented gathering of leaders to do something far more significant than utter a single phrase or undermine his predecessor’s record. He was there to rally the Muslim world, in his words, “to meet history’s great test” — defeating the forces of terrorism and extremism. He did so in a way that no American president ever had before. While extending a hand of friendship to Muslim nations, he also issued them a clear challenge: to take the lead in solving the crisis that has engulfed their region and spread across the planet. “Drive out the terrorists and extremists,” he urged them, or consign your peoples to futures of misery and squalor.

To find a comparably dramatic moment in the history of U.S. foreign policy, we have to look all the way back to 1982. That June, 35 years ago next month, President Ronald Reagan stood in the Royal Gallery at the Palace of Westminster in London and called on the West to rally in defense of freedom and against communist aggression.

Never before has an American president tried so clearly to unite the civilized world, including the nations of the Middle East and Africa, against the forces of terrorism. Never before has an American president issued so direct a challenge to those nations to do more in the fight. And never before has an American president so plainly put the ultimate responsibility for eradicating terrorism on the nations of the region. In doing so, Trump’s speech implicitly repudiated the approaches of his two immediate predecessors and promised instead what he characterized as a “principled realism,” based on a clear-eyed view of America’s interests, security, and limits.

That this decisive shift in U.S. foreign policy occurred on a foreign trip within the first four months of the administration is all the more impressive. Reagan didn’t take his first international trip until well into his second year. And unlike President Barack Obama’s early speech to the Muslim world in 2009, Trump backed up his words with action.

The Response

The Pavlovic Today is an upstart, possibly under Mr. Gingrich’s radar.  Also, it may not be obvious that we reported on these very shifts Gingrich identifies, due to the choice of rhetoric. Everything I write on foreign policy will always be rooted in my strict defensive realist methodology upon which I rely on understanding the behavior of nation-states and alliances. While Gingrich uses the term “realism”, most of his other terminology (above) is more ideological, such as “unite the civilized world…against the forces of terrorism.”

By this, he’s referring to how Trump is ramping up pressure on our Sunni allies, such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, to step up their efforts against terrorism.  You won’t see terms like “the civilized world” in any of my analyses largely because I focus on rising powers, how they are balanced against each other, stability vs. instability.  However, I was reporting on this all along, as you can see here in my article on Turkey, my article on Saudi Arabia, and on Israel.

The rhetoric in all of these articles focuses on Trump’s shift in foreign policy.  I do not think it is the “titanic shift” that Gingrich describes, but it is certainly more nuanced than his campaign rhetoric on foreign policy, yet more decisive than Obama’s. 

I do agree with Gingrich’s description of Trump’s adopted foreign policy as a kind of “principled realism”.  He does seem to have peaceful goals, but any principles he is pursuing are rooted in the realities of power politics, and what can be achieved, rather than what should be.

I’d also point out that I’ve been willing to call out the mainstream media for “focusing on the ephemeral questions” as well, though it’s been much lower on my priority list.

I’m not the only one here

Our Vasilis Spyrakos Patronas has also discussed Trump’s policy of rallying “the civilized world…against the forces of terrorism”, using very similar rhetoric.  Unlike myself, Mr. Patronas has no problem using more ideological rhetoric.  Unlike Mr. Gingrich, Patronas isn’t as optimistic about Trump’s foreign policy.  Nonetheless, Patronas provides a sober analysis of Trump’s efforts to unify nations of Europe against “radical Islam”, tying into Mr. Gingrich’s larger “civilized world” theme.

Pavlovic’s Sayeh Yousefi has discussed our changing relationship with Saudi Arabia as a result of Trump’s visit and the massive arms deal.

“Arguably the highlight of the trip was the expansion of the security relationship between the U.S. and Saudia Arabia, in which nearly $110 billion worth of foreign military sales cases to aid Saudi Arabia’s defense needs were signed for.” 

This she explained after discussing Syria, where Trump has clearly shifted since the campaign.  Ms. Yousefi realizes that there is more to this than “campaign rhetoric”.  For better or worse, Trump is making major decisions right now that greatly affect the balance of power in the Middle East, and the mainstream media has largely failed to draw attention to this.

Admittedly, articles such as Yousefi’s exist in the mainstream media, but they are largely buried under sensationalized stories on Trump’s gaffs and awkward body language, or far-fetched claims that impeachment is looming, or the fruitless efforts to claim that Trump colluded with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton.

If the Russians really did collude with Trump and devote their resources to his election, then they have clearly lost their investment, as Trump’s air strike on Syria, and the current arms deal with Saudi Arabia show.  All that Russia may have gotten out of it is a piece of confidential information on ISIS that will help them combat ISIS.  If this is true, it’s hardly the act of a puppet to share information with another nation that will help them fight a common enemy.

To Mr. Gingrich, and those who wish the media would do their job

I’m sorry that you have to dig through so much shameful click bait from “reputable” news sources to find the bits of relevant news scattered in between.  But don’t worry – The Pavlovic Today has got you covered!

Richard Wagner is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Florida State College at Jacksonville. He conducts independent study on the American conservative movement and foreign policy. When he is...

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