US Foreign Policy

America First is All That’s Left to Donald Trump


How much can you harm the United States as its president in a time span of one week? Donald Trump had a lot of work to do, and he took us on a tour of diplomatic destructions, which was shocking, but not that much surprising as one is led to believe.

First of all, POTUS humiliated the NATO allies. He obviously has an issue to differentiate a friend from a foe and this behavior towards our long-time partners is inexplicable. Secondly, Trump met with the Russian President Vladimir Putin and missed the opportunity to criticize him for the involvement of Russian hackers in the US elections and thus defend the Constitution of the United States and do his job for once.

With performance at the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium and his meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, the US president showed the world that he no longer wants to wait in his deconstruction of the US foreign policy. And no matter what the others around him do, stopping the man at the helm of the most powerful country of the world from wreaking havoc is a mission impossible.

From the presidential election and the Trump’s inauguration, we could have assumed what lied in store for the American people. Trump’s presidency is a big stress test for everyone involved, especially the leadership of the country. So far, the US policy was to advance the American interests in a global environment in which the United States, together with its allies and like-minded nations could prosper. However, with the arrival of the new president, there has been a slight change of plans.

According to Trump, the system the United States has constructed, something that previous presidents worked on diligently, is harming the country itself. Now he wants to demolish the system he doesn’t like and create a new one which will be more beneficial to the US. However, what has guided his diplomacy up to this point are his unassailable faith in deal-making abilities and the admiration he has for himself. These are all ingredients for defeat.

Currently, US military cooperation with NATO is as robust as at any time since the Cold War ended. There still hasn’t been a meaningful diplomatic reconciliation with Russia which is under heavy sanctions. In fact, the US and NATO presence have been strengthened in Eastern Europe. Meanwhile, POTUS wanted to withdraw the US forces from Afghanistan and South Korea, but luckily, he has been dissuaded, at least temporarily. On top of that, as the time passes, Trump is more prone to making foolish decisions.

He keeps reverting to his instincts no matter what the issue is – from the Iran nuclear deal to trade tariffs. He tries to approach Russia whereas he constantly bashes the US allies, without even thinking how this could backfire. Furthermore, he is no longer relying on his aides as much as before and even Secretary of Defense James Mattis is out of favor, according to several reports.

But Trump criticizing his allies and praising the dictator of a county is not something that happens for the first time. Now it is the NATO and Putin, and POTUS also had a shameful display at the G-7 summit recently, after which he praised a tyrant Kim Jong-un, North Korean dictator. With this foreign policy, Donald Trump is slowly but surely burning down the bridges until America remains stranded. Sure, America First policy is an option and the path this administration chose to follow, which many people have nothing against, but the way things are handled gives us a reason to worry. The US foreign policy could endure four years under Trump, with repairs required after that. However, eight years of such policy would force the next president to go with America First (Only) approach. Eight years is a long time, but now, even 2021 seems out of reach.


US Foreign Policy On Sale By Trump?


After 16 months in the office, President Donald Trump is still a big enigma to other world leaders, and not in a good way. Even a bigger problem is that his moves are often so out of the book that most of his closest associates don’t have a clue what will happen next day let alone the next month. Some of the biggest u-turns made by the POTUS were related to foreign policy, and that includes his sudden shift from longtime allies Qatar.

This small, yet oil-rich Middle East country, is the host of one of the U.S. bases which have Air Force Central Command and about 10,000 American troops set there. The big turn came roughly a year ago when Trump, just like POTUS always does, used his Twitter account to conduct his job and give statements about what is next to come. In that tweet, he pointed to Qatar as one of the funders of terrorism which was a big surprise for the entire world but also for some high officials of the US government like Defense Secretary James Mattis and now ex-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

After the tweet, it seemed like Trump was supporting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as they imposed a political and economic blockade. It is pretty hard to explain these moves made by POTUS, but a few months later, few new things emerged, and we got a better insight into the whole situation.

If you think that now comes the part where we will say something that will completely change your mind about a decision that was made and justify those moves, we will have to disappoint you. Possibly the main reason for a 180-shift towards Qatar was the meeting between Trump’s son-in-law Jared and Qatar officials about possible them funding bailout of 666 Fifth Ave. Because of the debt related to this skyscraper, it is possible that the Kushner family real estate empire will collapse. Unfortunate for all sides in this deal, Qataris didn’t agree with the proposal.

All this happened during the last spring, and about a year later things are starting to look a lot better for Qatar. You might think that it is because US administration has been persuaded that they have no ties to terrorists, like Trump previously claimed, but the truth might be slightly different.

It has been reported that the Gulf state has decided to help Kushner with 666 Fifth Ave problem. Even all this is done under a veil of secrecy, information leaked point out that a firm called Brookfield Asset Management is making a deal regarding the aforementioned skyscraper. This might not be anything strange if the company that will help Kushner isn’t heavily backed by Qatari money.

Is the US for sale? Did Trump offer it to the highest bidder?


US Foreign Policy should not be “America First”


Donald Trump had a memorable campaign in 2016 where he painted the immigrants as villains while he praised repressive regimes such as Russia and China where human rights and freedoms America stands for are pushed aside. He showed the American people that the US is not as powerful as it used to be and that he wanted to restore it to glory. This philosophy resonated and it continues to resonate despite the fact that Trump has already been a president for over a year. According to a Pew survey, almost half of the American population believes that the country should “pay less attention to problems overseas and concentrate on problems here at home.”

This is not surprising at all. The Americans are worried about their kids, the bills they have to pay and health care, not what is happening thousands of miles away from them. For regular people, globalization is a never-ending process which is complex, and it favors the wealthy over everyone else. Meanwhile, the sons and daughters are sent to wars miles and miles away from their homes, and they are not sure whether they would ever come back. Furthermore, terrorism is still there to combat. Even though the US won in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Islamic State appeared, and they are too powerful to deal with which is why it takes a lot of years to get rid of them. It is understandable why Americans are frustrated. The engagement of the US overseas never ends.

Trump is still exploiting these feelings of frustration, and he presents the choices – safety at home or peace in the world, human rights or improved and steady salaries. However, there are more than two sides of the coin, and these choices are false. Today’s world is too connected, and even if America were to turn their backs on the other countries, that wouldn’t do much to improve things in their own backyard. Withdrawing from the world scene would not mean “America First” but “America Alone” which would give the other countries a lot more room to develop and shape the future of the world.

Currently, the US citizens are facing many problems. First of all, US keeps failing to address climate change and flood insurance bills are too high. More and more Americans are fighting with addiction, and the use of illegal substances grows. Constant cyber attacks are threatening the security of the US citizens, and their right to vote is in the hands of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. These are all problems that need to be addressed, but such things cannot be taken care of by abandoning the rest of the world. Foreign Policy is not necessarily what happens across the ocean. Yes, it affects the wars the US engage in, but what happens in the rest of the world reflects on American lives as well. The entire world is interconnected and starting with the “America First” policy at this moment would be disastrous.

The United States faces huge global threats. Despite the fact that they have the largest economy, soon, America is going to be surpassed by China. Meanwhile, Russia has become bolder, interfering in the states around the world, while Europe’s division is growing. For instance, Apple is the largest corporation by market value, but the CEO is not responsible to the US lawmakers but to the shareholders of the company. On the other hand, Jack Ma doesn’t have the same luxury. The rise of state capitalism in China is a significant problem for the global free market.

The Americans are not engaged in foreign policy, but they should be. They are concerned about healthcare and gun control, and there is a great need to deal with such matters. But they also need to start thinking about foreign policy as well. For them to do so, the US government and all of the officials need to offer a story which is more compelling and give the right reasons why someone in Austin, Texas should care for what is happening in Afghanistan, Syria and the other countries worldwide.

New Foreign Policy

Trump and his administration decided to withdraw from the Paris agreement, but for the residents of Fall River, Massachusetts, this can have tremendous effects. The US is the largest CO2 emitter in the world, and instead of doing everything in its power to reduce the numbers of CO2 emitted in the atmosphere, the people in power seem not to care. Meanwhile, the Fall River residents are fighting with floods which are ruining the local infrastructure and redirecting budget to fixes instead of development. The aging sewage system needs to be upgraded to sustain the influx of extreme weather conditions.

Meanwhile, Georgia is the state which has more military enlistees than any other one in the nation. After Georgia, South Carolina and Texas are the top states and the families of such communities and cities in these states are well-aware of the US wars in the Middle East. These conflicts are a reality for them, and they are reading the stories – they are waiting for their husbands, fathers, and mothers to return home. In his presidential campaign, Trump has said that American would no longer fight pointless wars, but here he is, risking conflicts with Russia, Iran, and even Turkey, a country which is an ally.

West Virginia is not located on the border with Mexico, but it is the country most concerned with addiction. The pharmaceutical companies are loosely regulated, and a lot of Americans are hooked on painkillers. But it is not only painkillers that are the problem. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid originates from China, but it is distributed mostly through Mexico. Furthermore, it is scary to think that 95% of illegal substances in the United States comes over the Mexican border. The point is that building of a wall may reduce the entry of illegal immigrants, but it will not stop this epidemic. On the other hand, if Trump administration were to invest in mental health, pharmaceutical accountability and increase engagement across the borders, the numbers would go down.

Seven states – Wisconsin, Alaska, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Illinois, and California had their state websites or voter registration databases compromised during the election, US intelligence officials confirm. The enemies of the state managed to harm the US citizens with cyber attacks which know no borders.

The Pax Americana has come to an end, and the United States, together with the entire world is going to establish a new world order in the upcoming years. The US should assume the role of a leader and help shape the better world. Otherwise, this will be decided without it, and its interests and values will be disregarded. If America wants no part in the world scene, China has an alternative model for global leadership, and they are willing to impose it. While it favors government over the individual, this type of rule is not defined by freedom, but conformity. It is the model based on state capitalism, and those who accept it are going to prosper, but those who oppose it will not be able to grow. On the other hand, America is promoting a system based on mutual benefit and development and the rights of individuals are its priority. Everyone has a chance to compete and succeed in the free market.

Which system is worth fighting for?

USA Loses Credibility Due to Foreign Policy Double Standards


The American leaders are promoting their country as the example of how a country should behave in the world, but the reality is completely different. While the US has been overthrowing some repressive rulers, they have allowed the others to keep their positions and called them their friends and noble members of the Free World. Names that pop up include Shah of Iran, Nicaragua’s Somoza family, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, to name a few. This hypocrisy lives on, and it appears that will continue to be a dominant part of the US foreign policy.

The value United States practices and those that they preach are vastly different, and that gap can be seen in the Middle East. Recently, the United States harshly criticized Iran and Syria because of their domestic and foreign policy and while some of those criticisms are valid, the others are not so much. Bashar al-Assad’s regime and Iran’s government broke numerous international laws and violated human rights on many occasions, but sometimes officials from America are quiet and to make matters worse, the US is the one committing such crimes.

After the reported use of chemical weapons by Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, Trump called him to be an exceptionally vile enemy. He used Twitter, as always, to say that Assad is “an animal” and to justify the use of airstrikes on Syria, Trump wrote: “[The incident confirmed] a pattern of chemical weapons use by that very terrible regime. The evil and despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children thrashing in pain and gasping for air. These are not the actions of a man. They are crimes of a monster instead.” He was also quick to criticize Russia and Iran for the support and sponsorship of such a man. He said: “To Iran and to Russia, I ask: What kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?”

According to Daniel Larison of TAC, Trump should be the one who knows the answer to this question. He acknowledged: “Trump should know the answer since he just hosted one of the chief architects of the war on Yemen that the U.S. has backed to the hilt for the last three years. Britain welcomed the Saudi crown prince earlier on, and France just hosted him in the last few days. All three have been arming and supporting the Saudis and their allies in Yemen no matter how many atrocities they commit.”

It appears that the United States spread not only peace and democracy around the Middle East, but also chaos and war. They have funded Saudi Arabia and provided intelligence in their attacks on Yemen, which besides other devastating events triggered cholera epidemic which affects regular people. However, it doesn’t end here, and Washington would have a hard time washing their hands after everything they have done. Evidence has emerged that the Saudi forces have used white phosphorous munitions which cause severe burns on the victims and the supplier is no other than Washington.

To show that America is a hypocritical country, we have to go north and visit another US ally – Turkey. When Russia annexed Crimea, the United States was first to react, but they did nothing when Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 and occupied the northern part of the island. They sort of criticized Turkey for the invasion, but as the time passed by, the US officials became more and more disinterested. Instead, they pressured Cyprus to accept the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus which was established by Ankara. The sanctions were imposed initially, but they were soon lifted, which was an embarrassment. This mild reaction from the US repeated when Turkey sent their troops to northern Iran and northern Syria as well.

We are moving on. The next stop is Iran. The United States keeps criticizing Iran for repression and their domestic conduct, and they are joined by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the US allies. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is the first one to verbally attack Iran for repression. After demonstrations emerged in several parts of the country, Haley used the opportunity to speak up: “The Iranian regime’s contempt for the rights of its people has been widely documented for many years.” She added that America stood “unapologetically with those in Iran who seek freedom for themselves, prosperity for their families, and dignity for their nation.”

Her facts are way off. Let’s be clear on something. Iran’s political system differs from the Western democracy, but that doesn’t mean that it is repressive. Of course, there are some matters which can be improved and dealt with, but this country is way more open than Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The candidates for office which are considered “unacceptable” are excluded from the race by Guardian Council, but the Iranian election are quite open, and people have a chance to vote for a candidate they like. More often than not, two candidates have very contrasting views on the matters regarding Iran, and President Hassan Rouhani managed to win electoral mandate over his opponent in May 2017. Why is Saudi Arabia America’s ally when the laws in this country are too strict, and inequality and repression are pouring out of its borders?

The Saudi royal family is condemning any attempt at creating an opposition. People who criticized regime have often been imprisoned and sometimes even beheaded. According to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia is at the bottom when it comes to respecting human rights. For instance, the government has just allowed women to drive and this was considered to be a radical reform. The similar things happen in Egypt where speaking against the regime could mean losing your head. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi put thousands of his political opponents behind bars, and hundreds were killed. Where is the United States in these countries? Why aren’t troops sent to free the people who don’t have the rights they deserve?

The United States, with President Trump in the oval office, is aware of what is going on, but they refuse to react. These are brutal atrocities, committed by the US allies, but just because they are allied countries, they would go unpunished. The US is even selling weapons to such countries, aiding their repression and attacks on other states in the region. This leads us to the conclusion that the United States don’t care at all about freedom around the world. Now, we understand that this is no fairytale and to get rid of some enemies the United States needs to unite with the countries which are drastic in their laws to strengthen the position in the Middle East.

What bothers us is that the officials are not frank with the United State citizens. Instead of explaining that these decisions are made for the interest of the US, they are presenting one side of the story. Is it possible that they are afraid of how the public would react in such case? For once, the United States need to be honest in their intentions, and these do not include the rights or welfare of the people who live in the Middle East. No matter what the politicians say, the foreign policy of Washington indicates otherwise, and we must not turn a blind eye.


Stephen Walt’s view on the direction US policy is heading


Stephen Walt is a professor of international relations at Harvard University as well as a very prominent figure in the international affairs field. He taught on at Princeton University and the University of Chicago and is a fellow at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and co-chair of the editorial board of “International Security.” Just recently he spoke at Iowa State regarding the direction that US policy is heading.

According to him, the strategy that the US still uses is dating from Cold War era, and it’s all about that famous “liberal hegemony.” That basically means that the US is trying to use its power to ensure and spread liberal principles of democratic governments, human rights and open-market economies. During this lecture he also addressed the turmoil’s the United States has with China (worse now than ever since Cold War), Russia, terrorist attacks that happen frequently and many others.

According to professor Walt “Instead of defending American territory and working to uphold the balance of power in key strategic regions, liberal hegemony seeks to spread democracy in markets around the world, peacefully, if possible, but if necessary, with military force.” As far as he is concerned the current US foreign policy now holds “more uncertainty on this topic than there has been in any time in recent history.” He feels that liberal hegemony is fundamentally flawed mainly because it adds to the number of places the US is formally committed to defend (which is a burden by itself), and secondly countries that are not liberal democracies may feel threatened when you barge in and force liberal democracy on their neighbor. He stated that “Some of those countries are able to do various things to get in our way. It’s one of the reasons countries are getting interested in acquiring nuclear weapons.”

Thanks to its many flaws, Donald Trump made it to the president spot by criticising the existing foreign policy which, truthfully, couldn’t be defended at all. Trump, even during his campaign, promised that he would give the US a new set of strategies and the “American First” policy, but as we can see it right now, his administration simply picked up after the previous one, and it is business as usual. “It’s true that he is paying much less attention to democracy promotion, to nation building and to human rights, but the differences here are not as dramatic as we might think,” Walt stated. He backs this up by the recent airstrike in Syria and states that “This is again a classic right out of the D.C. playbook. It’s not going to affect the situation in Syria at all, but it makes us look like we are doing something. One percent of the deaths in the Syrian civil war were caused by chemical weapons. We got very excited and energized over the use of chemical weapons, but the vast majority people lost their lives in Syria were killed by ordinary weapons. We are still following the same blueprint, but now being managed by the least competent president in my remembering.”

Walt, at the end of his thought, gave a piece of advice for Trump administration – the main goal should be to prevent any other country from dominating its region the same way America dominates the Western atmosphere. Don’t worry about Europe or even Russia, they are not the adversaries, military nor in economics. China is the one to worry about. “The bad news is that China is a potentially dominant power in Asia and our allies in Asia are not strong enough to balance against China. The United States has to still take the lead in forging a balancing coalition in Asia,” Walt stated. According to Walt, the US should not try to control the Middle East, take sides with countries there or have any “special relationships” because, basically, no country in the Middle East “deserves unconditionally, American support.”

Besides this, Walt suggests that there should be a huge deemphasize on the role of military power in foreign policy and put a greater accent on peace. Walt thinks that most politicians today forgot about the word peace simply because of the environment that makes you look idealistic and soft if you use a peace card. He also stated that “Peace time tends to elevate to prominent people who are good at promoting human wealth or good innovation and good invention. Warfare tends to elevate people who are good at using violence.”

In the end, Walt also made a notion that the US should (under the ideal government policies) get out of the business of nation-building and reduce their military footprint in Europe and the Middle East and turn toward the improvement of relationship with Russia and try and nurture more attention in creating a partnership in Asia.


US Foreign Policy is About Trump, according to Macron


Even though France and the US are allies, it appears that French President Emmanuel Macron has no sympathy for the US President Donald Trump. According to Macron, Trump’s narcissistic personality guides him in his decision-making whereas he has no understanding of how the world functions. Macron also noted that Trump’s ideology is not clear enough.

With that in mind, the French president has two options. One is to lecture Trump on how the world works and how to be the president of a great nation. The other is to manipulate him, and for better or worse, he chooses the second option. Hopefully, this will be a great choice for everyone because it is up to Macron to navigate and shape the relations between the United States and Europe in the upcoming months.

The Washington Post writes: “The special bond that seems to have developed between the 71-year-old American president and Macron, a 40-year-old political novice elected just a year ago, is no accident. While [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel is clearly turned off by Trump, and British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Parliament and population have indicated they don’t even want him to visit, Macron has gone far out of his way to cultivate him.”

This is also backed up by the statement of one of the officials close to France leader “Macron is doing this because he knows that he has to be close to our closest ally, the president of the most powerful country in the world. It’s in our interest to have a good relationship. He doesn’t go as a friend.”

Could the two presidents be close friends? For Donald Trump, it is all about how he is treated by the foreign countries. When Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed Trump on a high level, he was foolish enough to believe that China was America’s friend. The same happens with Saudi Arabia. He never considered that the American Presidents have been welcomed and appreciated across the world and that this was standard fare for the US leaders. Trump has taken this personally, and that has a huge effect on both the United States and the allies as well.

We need to make a point that authoritarian leaders know how to manipulate everyone, and they are cunning. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be in the position they are. Some people worry that North Korean’s Kim Jong-Un would deceive Trump and they are partially right. Flattery is insincere, and the US President needs to realize that as soon as possible. He may make a wrong decision, instead.

Sometimes, differences arise between the United States and its allies, which is a natural thing in politics. Instead of facing reality and solving the differences all the leaders of the allied countries need to do is to praise Trump and everything would turn up for the best. And this is what Macron has done. Instead of showing Trump the effects of getting out of the Iran deal he decided to praise his strategy. He is aware that there is a possibility that Trump wouldn’t listen to the arguments or that he might be bored by his speech, and their relationship would only deter. And The Washington Post confirms it:

“According to officials involved in the U.S.-European talks, significant progress has been made on addressing concerns about the deal’s sunset clauses, its verification rules, and the absence of restrictions on Iranian ballistic missile testing and development, as well as new measures to counter Iran’s “malign” activities in Syria and beyond in the Middle East. Four documents have been drafted that they believe are responsive to Trump’s criticisms.

“An overall declaration and three sub-texts are to outline their joint understanding that other international conventions will prohibit Iran from developing nuclear weapons beyond restrictions that expire in the next decade; push the International Atomic Energy Agency to expand its monitoring; and promise strict sanctions if Iran moves forward with intercontinental ballistic missile development.”

If Trump reimposes sanctions on Iran, they are going to continue with the nuclear weapons program while the European countries remain in the deal. Just the fact that Macron has any influence on Trump’s decisions says a lot about his skills as a politician. He is doing what is best for France, but we all hope that works because this is what’s best for the States as well.