He said leaders of those Middle Eastern counties who signed the agreement should also receive joint consideration for the Nobel Prize.
O’Brien said that unlike many U.S. leaders, Trump has been willing to build up political capital with all parties, and then spend it to push steps toward peace.
O’Brien said Trump then spent that political capital with all sides.
He said too many diplomats and politicians take such political capital and “hold and protect it, maybe even put it in a safe and lock it away.” Instead, he said Trump used it to prod Israel and the Arabic gulf states “to make tough decisions and move them towards peace.”
He added, “It’s a lesson for all of us and in negotiating.”
O’Brien said Trump has made many international gains that have surprised skeptics by pushing an “America First” policy in diplomatic relations.
“Every time the president makes a decision on foreign policy, his first question is how does it affect the American people?” O’Brien said, adding that he also believes in Ronald Reagan’s philosophy of achieving peace through strength.
“The Trump administration deals with the world as it is. We deal with authoritarian and totalitarian governments as they are — not as we would hope they would be or not because we think they might change.”
He said an example was Trump threatening to pull out of NATO because he believed other members were not paying their fair share — which brought pledges from them for more spending.
Another example of “America First” diplomacy is that in Afghanistan, “We signed a peace deal with the Taliban for the first time in 19 years,” which he said led to a significant reduction of U.S. troops there and casualties.
“The president would like to see all of our troops home,” he said, adding that conditions may allow that soon.
In sum, O’Brien said, “We think as a result of these activities and others, the world is demonstrably much more peaceful and more prosperous.”
More broadly, critics point to a series of presidential actions, from pulling out of the Paris climate agreement to shaking the confidence of the most staunch U.S. allies, the NATO members, including Trump’s planned withdrawal of more than a quarter of the 34,500 U.S. troops stationed in Germany. At the same time, the president has praised and refused to publicly confront dictators, most notably Russia’s Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and, until recently, China’s Xi Jinping.
Meanwhile at the Hatch global security symposium Thursday, Jon Huntsman — the former Utah governor who was an ambassador to Russia and China — said America has a secret weapon that ultimately is the most powerful in its arsenal against authoritarian governments: its values of liberty and freedom.
“When we’re able to practice more appropriately our American values, which emanate for all the world to see, no one can beat us,” he said.