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Trump's diplomatic theater

Ines Pohl
Ines Pohl
September 15, 2020

Foreign policy is rarely a prominent topic in US elections. Brokering deals between Israel and the Gulf countries United Arab Emirates and Bahrain has given the incumbent an air of statesmanship, DW's Ines Pohl writes.

US: Donald Trump, 2020
Image: Reuters/J. Ernst

Less than 50 days before the US presidential election, Tuesday's signing ceremony for Israel's accords with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain will play to Donald Trump's advantage. The media personality knows how to effectively surround himself with the aura of power. He knows what impression he makes on supporters and potential voters when he presents himself as a politician who sets things in motion in difficult times.

Ines Pohl
DW's Ines PohlImage: DW/P. Böll

It does not matter that the deal, which is primarily financially motivated, woefully neglects Palestinians and that it has likely moved a real peace accord even further into the future. The Arab bloc that long stood united behind the Palestinians has long since ceased to exist.

Read more: Mike Pompeo makes appeal for normal relations with Israel

Most Americans are more insecure than they have been for a long time. There is the deadly virus, and there are massive economic problems.  There are also the raging wildfires burning down large parts of the West Coast on an unprecedented scale.

Read more: Israel-UAE flight takes off in major step for historic pact

Driven by fear, many Americans do not have time to take a critical look. Instead of analyzing what these disasters have to do with Trump's first term, many are willing to give another four years to a man who prioritizes his own success: a man who, they believe, shows the world who is in charge and has reclaimed the US's rightful place.

Read more: How will Arab states react to Israel's annexation plans?

So Tuesday's ceremony involving powerful men and a lot of pomp is just in time. On days like these, the 74-year-old Trump wants to show even the most skeptical of voters that he has the power. Maybe that will make his Democratic opponent, the 77-year-old Joe Biden, look really old.

Adapted from German by Dagmar Breitenbach

Ines Pohl
Ines Pohl Bureau head of DW's Washington Studio@inespohl