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The Queen’s Gift to President Trump

Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 7

In his recent state visit to Britain, U.S. President Donald Trump received an exciting and unexpected gift from Queen Elizabeth II: a copy of Winston Churchill’s memoir of World War II. This was a symbolic gift with which the queen sought to convey a message to the American president. What exactly is this message? No one knows for sure. In my humble opinion, there are two possible explanations, both of which imply that the best way to deal with current affairs is to draw on historical experiences. First, it is possible that the queen wanted to reiterate the importance of the American-British alliance to President Trump. This gift was meant to serve as a reminder that the United States was a vital and important player in the stability of the world and that this role should not be taken lightly, as a tool to influence internal politics. In the book, Churchill recalls his continued attempts to convince U.S. President [Franklin D.] Roosevelt to intervene in the war and repel German aggression. The British prime minister recalls traveling to Washington and staying there for weeks before managing to break the barriers and deepen the ties of friendship with the American president and convince him to join the war effort. The second explanation suggests that the queen gave President Trump the book to make a statement against soft diplomacy and in favor of decisive confrontation against belligerent forces in the world. This goes back to the basic message of the book, in which Churchill recalls his refusal to surrender to the Germans despite the heavy bombing campaign of London. He was opposed to the position of his predecessor, [Neville] Chamberlain, whose name became a symbol of political and moral weakness, and the Munich Treaty he signed an example of diplomatic catastrophe. It is possible that, in this context, the queen was alluding to Iran, which is currently trying to spread an evil ideology and undermine regional and global order. Regardless of which explanation holds true, the message that the queen wanted to send to Trump is clear: We must learn from history and make sure we don’t repeat political mistakes from our past. And while we don’t know if Trump will even bother reading the book, we can only hope that the message will sink in. – Mamdouh al-Miheni (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)