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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Is Trump's presidential legacy being driven by foreign policy?

For all its bluster, turmoil and controversy, few will remember the 2016 presidential election as a great battle over American foreign policy direction.

The classic matchup between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton basically boiled down to a question of Trump’s character and competency to “govern” should he prevail in enough states to earn the necessary Electoral Trump ClintonCollege votes to win the presidency as required by the Constitution.

Both candidates made plenty of promises about what they would do domestically if they won; Trump would seal the borders (build a wall), rewrite America’s trade agreements, rebuild the military, cut tax rates, reform the “disaster” that is Obamacare and generally, make America Great Again.

Hillary, well…who knows what she would’ve done. She talked so much about Trump’s alleged misogynistic flaws (anyone remember Alicia Machado?) that she plain forgot to provide details on a governing vision. Clinton’s entire platform consisted of possessing female attributes, scaring people into hating Trump and promising to do everything so wonderfully that America would continue to be the paradise it started out to be under Obama.

One would’ve thought foreign policy would take center stage in her campaign since Clinton had been Secretary of State, right?

Not so. As an outsider seeking to be the first amateur politician to ever win the presidency Trump simply offered the broad outlines of his thoughts on America’s international role but few specifics on what he would do once in office. He said he would trust his generals in military matters and hire smart, successful people to negotiate with foreign leaders.

In other words, the subject of foreign policy basically flat-lined. I can’t think of a single instance where the campaign turned on anything related to it (unless you count Hillary’s personal server and her mishandling of classified emails). Perhaps for that reason it’s ironic Trump appears to be building a more than solid presidential legacy on his outside-the-border exploits. Trump’s trip to Europe last week was a great example, first with his universally well-received speech (on Western values) in Poland and then with his highly publicized initial face-to-face confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit.

According to news reports Trump challenged Putin over Russia’s proven hacking of the election. But it was in another area where Trump knows he holds all the cards that he really held Putin’s feet to the fire.

Economist Larry Kudlow wrote at National Review, “[W]ith the free-market policies [Trump]’s putting in place in America’s energy sector and throughout the U.S. economy, the business-man president fully intends to destroy Russia’s energy-market share. And as that takes hold, Russia’s gas-station economy will sink further.

“And as that takes hold, bully-boy Putin will have to think twice about Ukraine, Poland, and the Baltics. He’ll have to think twice about his anti-American policies in the Middle East and North Korea. And he’ll have to think twice about his increasingly precarious position as the modern-day Russian tsar.

“And the world may yet become a safer place.”

Kudlow’s argument is right on. His entire piece suggests Trump’s strong bargaining position is guided by America’s vast resources and burgeoning energy sector.

If we can’t dampen Putin and Russia’s militarily threat at the diplomatic negotiating table we’ll do so by undermining the Russians at the bank. Just as Reagan recognized the Soviet Union could not possibly keep pace with Uncle Sam in the eighties’ arms race Trump understands the sputtering oil-dependent Russian economy can’t hope to compete with the highly diversified and (mostly) free economies of the first world.

And it all begins with oil prices.

The Democrats and their green environmentalist friends believe their socialist utopia can be realized through leaving every ounce of fossil fuels locked deep beneath the soil, but it could be argued America’s greatest military advantage in the twenty-first century has nothing to do with explosives, warheads on ICBM’s or even the treasure trove of talent with beating hearts inside of military uniforms.

Instead it’s America’s capacity to produce energy cheaply and efficiently that could be the ticket to lasting world peace. If you add in the great things that are produced with all that energy you have an amazing resource no one can even see with the naked eye.

Trump recognizes many of America’s ideological enemies and rivals (Russia, Iran, Venezuela, ISIS, etc…) are dependent on energy sales to fuel their crooked cartels and dictatorships and fund terrorism. At the same time, emasculating these regimes’ abilities to falsely prop up their countries’ standard of living will eventually lead to social unrest that could topple them and lead to more friendly relationships with the West.

Only in rare circumstances can people be suppressed for long without resources. North Korea can starve its population into pacifism but that model won’t work everywhere.

Snobby European elites may dismiss Trump as an unsophisticated non-intellectual brutish amateur who doesn’t know the first thing about diplomacy or getting along with the ruling class. But with America’s energy clout and potentially booming economy at his back, Trump will still be respected. And that’s the biggest key to helping America become great again.

Thirty years ago Reagan dismissed all of the naysayers’ complaints about his huge military buildup and history vindicated him when the Berlin Wall came down. Everything seems to indicate Trump will enjoy the same long-term absolution.

Still, the Democrats were less than impressed with Trump’s triumphant Poland speech and meeting with Putin.

W. James Antle III of the Washington Examiner reports, “President Trump may have pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin on interference in the U.S. presidential campaign during their Friday meeting, but to Democrats it was too little, too late.

“Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said it was a ‘dereliction of duty’ for the Trump administration to give ‘equal credence’ to U.S. intelligence agencies blaming Moscow for the election year hacking and Russian denials of the same.

“’President Trump had an obligation to bring up Russia's interference in our election with Putin, but he has an equal obligation to take the word of our intelligence community rather than that of the Russian president,’ Schumer said in a statement. ‘For Secretary [of State Rex] Tillerson to say that this issue will remain unresolved is disgraceful.’”

Disgraceful? Why? Because if the Russia matter dies the Democrats will have spent all this time bloviating about Trump and Putin and nothing will have resulted from it.

If Democrats had their way all Trump and Putin would have talked about was the election in order to keep the subject fresh and in the news indefinitely. The problem is Trump and his campaign didn’t collude with Russia so there really isn’t all that much to consider other than to publicly slap Putin on the wrist and then move on to discussing Syria and Russia’s potential role in helping with the North Korea situation.

The collusion scenario is a farce and so are the claims of obstruction of justice.

Democrats weren’t the only ones taking cheap rhetorical shots at Trump.

Kyle Feldscher of the Washington Examiner reports, “President Trump fulfilled his campaign pledges to take on bad trade deals and upset the global order at the G-20 conference in Germany last week, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Sunday.

“Speaking on ‘Fox News Sunday,’ Gingrich said people who are used to having a better deal are criticizing Trump as pulling the United States back from the rest of the world. In reality, Trump is doing what he said he would do and working on behalf of the country, he said.

“’It's a good thing,’ Gingrich said of the so-called ‘G-19’ criticism of Trump's foreign policy, which argued that the United States was no longer a part of the world community. The phrase ‘G-19’ was trending on Twitter Saturday.”

Gingrich is correct; world criticism of Trump is a good thing. There is absolutely no incentive for Trump to strive as his main goal to perpetuate the current world order and in effect become the next Barack Obama.

Obama bowed to tyrants and apologized for America. Trump extols western virtues and is keeping his promise to put America’s interests first in foreign relations. There’s nothing to say sorry for. America is the greatest example of good in the world today – why hide from it?

President Trump’s vision has been a smashing success thus far and will likely continue as the world wakes up to the notion there’s a different philosophy governing America today. It may be the ultimate irony but Donald Trump is building his presidential legacy on foreign policy.

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