George W. Bush’s first foreign destination as president was Mexico, a chance to showcase a relationship he built as Texas governor and had campaigned on as a credential for his ability to manage world affairs.
When Barack Obama ventured abroad for the first time after taking office, he went to Canada, a very traditional trip where adoring throngs responded to his campaign promise to restore America’s tarnished reputation overseas.
Despite the personalized choreography — Bush all smiles at Mexican President Vicente Fox’s ranch, Obama basking in affection from Canadian crowds — both trips were fundamentally low-risk, conventional forays into foreign policy. Baby steps across the world stage, in effect.
But President Trump’s first foreign voyage will instead be an astonishingly ambitious adventure — Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, a NATO summit in Brussels, and a gathering of the G-7 group of leading industrial nations in Sicily. He’s coming with a packed agenda of the weightiest issues in global affairs, like defeating ISIS, containing Iran, convincing the Muslim world to confront extremism, overhauling relations with crucial allies in Europe and Asia, and forging Middle East peace.
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