During the US Presidential election of 2016, there was one story that Donald Trump told and retold, much to the delight of his supporters, the story of how an American General in the Philippines, General Pershing, dealt with “Islamic radicals”. He claimed that the General executed 49 out of 50 Moro rebels with bullets dipped in pig’s blood to strike fear into the hearts of terrorists. Pershing later wrote in his biography that “the bodies of some Muslims were publicly buried in the same grave with a dead pig”. The claim made by Donald J. Trump has been widely rejected by historians, although the massacre of over a thousand Muslim women and children in the Battle of Bud Dajo (1906) is a widely accepted and reported fact (including by contemporaries such as Mark Twain). Donald J. Trump’s glorification of a war crime against Muslims fighting an occupying force reveals a lot about him and his political base. Donald Trump has repeatedly suggested the looting of Iraq’s oil as a reimbursement for American military costs in Iraq. He has called for bombing of families of suspected terrorists. He does not consider waterboarding torture and promised to do much worse during his campaign. His CIA Director Gina Haspel was incharge of one such black site in Thailand where one suspect, Abu Zubaydah, was waterboarded 83 times. Trump’s associates have included Michael Flynn who called Islam a “Malignant cancer”, and Sebastian Gorka who has suggested that violence is a fundamental part of Islam. “The best thing that you can do is deal from strength, and leverage is the biggest strength you can have… In other words you have to convince the other guy it’s in his interest to make the deal…” Donald J. Trump, The Art of the Deal (1987) In 2016, ACT! For America, an organisation described by Southern Poverty Law Center, as an Anti-Muslim hate group, gave Mike Pompeo, Trump’s current Secretary of State, a “National Security Eagle Award” for his comments regarding Islamic terrorism. Senator Lindsey Graham, who recently met with Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan in Pakistan, and is one of President Trump’s closest allies in Congress, said in a Fox News interview “The one thing I like about President Trump, he understands that we’re in a religious war”. The Trump administration has flouted international norms and conventions over the past two years. It has unilaterally pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement and the Iran Nuclear Deal. Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton has repeatedly called for regime change in Iran. In July 2017, then CIA director Mike Pompeo hinted that the CIA was working towards bringing down the Venezuelan Government, a country in which there is a history of US backed coups. In January 2019, Donald Trump recognized Juan Guaido, as the acting President of Venezuela, in a move widely seen as a coup. Lindsey Graham has recently called upon President Trump to meet with PM Khan. We must ask ourselves, what is to be gained by negotiating with a government that does not believe in International Law? US foreign policy has always been inconsistent with regard to Pakistan but these problems have been exacerbated by Trump. You cannot strike an agreement with a country which will flout that agreement when it no longer finds it convenient. In November 2018, Trump engaged in a twitter spat with PM Khan which resulted in the latter saying “Now we will do what is best for our people and our interests”. Pakistan has successfully realigned its foreign policy over the past few years and it should not throw away all that good work for the sake of another false dawn in US-Pakistan relations. Just after the 2018 general elections in July, Mike Pompeo warned against an International Monetary Fund bailout of Pakistan by citing concerns that it would be used to pay off its debt to China. It is in the United States’ strategic interest that CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) fails in Pakistan in its wider competition with China for influence in the region. Finally, the Trump led US government looks upon Islam itself as a problem. He is an Islamophobe surrounded by other Islamophobes. Any appeasement of such a world view is impossible. So conversely Pakistan should deal with the US in much the same way. At this moment in history, the US is an adversary whose policies in the world and in the region do not align with Pakistan’s. A meeting with Donald Trump is unlikely to yield any positives and PM Khan would be well advised to remember that the folks he is dealing with are fundamentally and strategically opposed to Pakistan. With the military aid to Pakistan already suspended, and mounting public pressure in the US to withdraw from Afghanistan, Trump has no leverage other than trying to con us into thinking that it is in our best interest to make a deal. The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore. His interests include history and literature Published in Daily Times, February 1st 2019.