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News Analysis: Trump's speech, national security strategy contradictory: experts

(Xinhua)    08:11, December 20, 2017

CAIRO, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump's speech on his national security strategy in many ways contradicted the document itself, experts in the Middle East said Tuesday.

In a speech outlining his administration's first national security strategy on Monday, Trump touted again his campaign logo of "America First."

But when it comes to several international issues, Trump's speech contradicted what is said in the 68-page document that provides the framework for his administration's foreign policy.

SOFTER TALK ABOUT RUSSIA

The outstanding example is Trump's much softer talk about Russia, which is labelled by the document as a "revisionist" power bent on undermining the U.S. interests, and accused of meddling in the U.S. presidential race in 2016.

But in his speech, Trump not only failed to mention the alleged Russia's intervention in the election that he won, but also touted a phone call from Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to thank him for providing intelligence to foil a major terror attack in Russia.

In fact, Trump has been seeking warmer ties with Russia since he took office in January despite the relentless investigation conducted by U.S. Congress into the suspected link between his campaign and Russia.

"Trump's speech highlighted the gap between his theories and his actions," Norhan al-Sheikh, professor of international relations at the Cairo University, told Xinhua.

"Also in the speech, we noticed remarkable gap between the tough language of Trump towards the rivals of the U.S. (China and Russia), and the actual policies that he has adopted since he took office," al-Sheikh noted.

Theoretically, Russia is called the main strategic enemy of the U.S., but Trump on Monday described happily Putin's phone call, which "seemed to be courting Russia," she pointed out.

Trump also contradicted himself in his speech when he talked about the rising competition from Russia and China.

After calling Russia and China two "revisionist" powers seeking to undermine the U.S. influence, values and interests, Trump immediately called for building "great partnership" with them, al-Sheikh noted.

Trump once again demanded NATO allies share more the cost of protecting Europe by threatening to beat a retreat, though his administration vows to restore the U.S. presence on international issues which diminished under his predecessor Barack Obama.

"Trump's speech is contradictory, and he seems to be dealing with a hypothetical world," al-Sheikh said. "His logic is very strange because of his contradicted polices."

TRUMP'S MORE CONFRONTATIONAL STANCE

However, experts expressed the worry about the more confrontational stance taken by the Trump administration in its new security policy.

Selcuk Colakoglu, director of Turkish Center for Asia Pacific Studies, said the new U.S. strategy indicates a "more confrontational" approach toward Russia, China, Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

"This also supports the argument that further escalation over the Iranian and North Korean nuclear issues is imminent," Colakoglu told Xinhua.

Mehmet Ali Guller, a columnist with the Turkish Aydinlik Daily, tweeted that the new strategy indicates that the U.S. will create more troubles for its rivals in order to curb their influence.

For al-Sheikh, one worrisome fact is that the main focus of the Trump administration's policy "is and will be the U.S. interests," so it could seek to buy new friends through trade and form new alliances even at the expenses of international agreements.

CONSISTENCY IN POLICY TOWARD IRAN

Trump's major consistency appeared on the policy toward Iran, as he denounced the nuclear deal signed by the previous government with Tehran as "disastrous, weak, and incomprehensibly bad."

Trump touted the sanctions he imposed on Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for its "support of terrorism" and his refusal to certify the Iranian nuclear deal to Congress.

This is in consistent with the charges against Iran in the strategy document, which calls Iran a "rogue" state and blasts Iran's efforts to beef up its influence through proxy groups, weapons proliferation and recommitment to its ballistic missile program. The document also vows to block the path for Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.

An Iranian expert at the Tehran International Studies and Research Institute dismissed Trump's rhetoric against Iran, saying it is not much different from his predecessors.

"It's just a minor issue for the Iranian media and readers as they have become tired of such word game because it happens every year for decades," the researcher, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Xinhua.

"Terrorism and violent extremism are a global threat, the U.S. government should focus on this threat in its security report," he said, charging that the U.S. chooses to ignore the fact that Iran is on the front line of fighting terrorism.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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