America First Policy = America Alone?

trump and bibiNow that the adults have all left the White House, Trump is following his bull-in-the-china shop foreign policy tendencies and leaves the Iranian Nuclear agreement.  Yesterday, Trump broke with with European allies over the Iran agreement and Monday, Mr. Trump will break with Arab allies with the formal opening of an American Embassy in Jerusalem.  Making our allies angry seems to be the only talent Mr. Trump possesses and is apparently his main focus of foreign relations. Don’t forget the upcoming steel tariffs on key American trading partners, stating that he hopes to forge a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada or blow up the North American Free Trade Agreement if he doesn’t get everything he wants in the new negotiations.  Don’t forget that he wants a Nobel prize for forcing North Korea to surrender its nuclear arsenal through “maximum pressure” coupled with threats of military action followed by high-stakes one-on-one diplomacy.  Good luck with that.

Mr. Trump plans to meet with leaders of the Group of 7 powers in Quebec and NATO allies in Brussels – with his latest foreign policy moves, you can be sure he will get an earful in the most polite way.  There is still the upcoming first visit to Britain (sure to be widely protested) and, of course, Trump’s team still has the jones for a White House meeting with Putin.  “I think we’re now entering ‘the full Trump’ period of the administration’s foreign policy — it’s high decibel, high tempo and high risk,” said Amy Zegart, a director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University and an author, with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, of “Political Risk,” a new book on global insecurity.

Mr. Trump had blustered repeatedly about some of these goals but had been talked out of following through on them by his advisers. which have since been marginalized, fired, or quit. Trump has replaced the adults in the White House with John R. Bolton, the president’s new national security adviser, and Mike Pompeo, his new secretary of state, both of whom take a harder-line approach to Iran and some other issues.

“Year 1 of the Trump administration was a series of tough tweets and statements, but very little or restrained action,” said Heather A. Conley, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and a former State Department official under President George W. Bush.  “Year 2,” she added, “is a significant transition to action as the president not only feels more comfortable in taking unilateral decisions but grows confident that the more the so-called experts tell him it is the wrong thing to do, the more he is encouraged to take that exact step.”  Trumps action in the first year seems to have been focused on undoing any international agreements negotiated by his predecessor President Barack Obama: the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact and the Paris climate change accord.  Just because Obama.

“Bolton and Pompeo joining the team left Mattis isolated in arguing the Iran deal was working,” said James M. Goldgeier, a professor and former dean of international relations at American University.  Never mind that Iran has been complying with the agreement, never mind that sixty-three percent of Americans surveyed by CNN said the United States should not scrap the deal. Trump’s base, his select constituencies of his cultish base, national security hawks, and advocates of Israel support Trump’s worldview that the United States has been rolled by allies and adversaries alike in essentially every international agreement reached in recent decades.

Bolton and Pompeo are still putting together their teams and settling into their roles while Trump engages in complicated and dangerous nuclear standoffs with both Iran and North Korea, a burgeoning trade war with China, various trade disputes with allies, and a confrontation with Syria.  “Trump is making unilateral decisions with long-term consequences for U.S. foreign policy with little grasp of the issues,” said James M. Goldgeier, professor and former dean of international relations at American University. “But he’s delivering on his campaign promises and undoing Obama’s legacy, both of which are important to him.”

As we seem to be watching in real time, undoing Obama’s legacy, giving money to big business, ruining the environment, and sucking up to his base are the only things Trump seems to care about.

For more: NYTimes