HOW LOW HAS AMERICA FALLEN IN THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION?
by Michael Krepon | January 28, 2019
“Is this pattern of disruption a force for good or not? I’d argue this disruption is a positive development.”
— Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking long distance to the Davos gathering, January 22, 2019
Another in the continuing ‘Cry, the Beloved Country’ series:
After just a few months after Donald Trump took office, U.S. standing abroad took a deep plunge. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center poll, 84 percent of people surveyed in Germany, Britain, France, Canada and Sweden believed the American president would “do the right thing in world affairs.” This, at the end of Barack Obama’s presidency, a man decried by his critics as someone who weakened U.S. ties with friends and allies. In 2017, the first year of the Trump presidency, this number fell to 16 percent.
Subsequently, matters have gotten worse. Last September, Trump stood before the UN General Assembly and declared that, “In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.” His claim was not met with snickering. It was met with laughter.
That hurt, but U.S. standing falls lower with every trip Trump, Mike Pompeo and John Bolton take abroad. Consider the following developments:
On October 5th, the Government of India finalized a deal with Russia to buy five regiments of Russia’s SA-400 air defense system despite repeated warnings by U.S. officials and the Congress that to do so could trigger sanctions. New Delhi’s decision can one month after Secretary of State Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis met with their counterparts in a twice-delayed ‘2+2’ dialogue.
On October 28th, the Indian media reported that Trump had declined Prime Minister Modi’s invitation to be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade. The man loves a parade, but doesn’t like long-distance travel.
On December 6th, The United Nations General Assembly rejected a resolution proposed by UN Ambassador Nikki Haley to condemn the Islamic militant group Hamas for violence against Israel. The embarrassing vote, which required a two-thirds majority, was 87 in favor to 58 opposed, with 32 abstentions. Haley has been replaced by a former Fox News presenter.
On December 12th, Secretary of State Pompeo blasted Iran at the UN Security Council and received no support from U.S. allies for walking away from the nuclear deal. U.S. allies Britain, France and Germany and others praised Iran for holding up its end of the bargain.
On December 21st, the United States barely rounded up more votes than Russia on a Russian resolution at the UN calling for the preservation of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The vote was 46 against to 43 in favor, with 78 abstentions.
On January 5th, the paper Bild reported the findings of a poll in which German respondents just barely found Russia (56 percent) a greater threat than the United States (55 percent).
On January 10th, Pompeo, speaking in Cairo, declared, “Let me be clear, America will not retreat until the terror fight is over.” The next day, the front-page headline in the New York Times was “U.S. Begins Syria Withdrawal, Amid Uncertainty Over Strategy.”
On January 12th, the German news weekly Der Spiegel published an interview with Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who talked about meetings to form a strategy to cope with the Trump administration:
Maas: We are in contact with many European partners, we have spoken about it with our Japanese counterparts, my Australian counterpart called me about it, South Africa is interested — to name just a few. The demand is significant, which is why we are currently in the process of flushing out the alliance.
DER SPIEGEL: Is it an anti-Trump alliance?
Maas: No, but our purpose is to stand in opposition to those who have declared war on the multilateral world. In the face of globally rising nationalism, we want to show the value and concrete benefit that international cooperation still has.
On January 14th, en route to Saudi Arabia, Pompeo declared he was “confident” and “optimistic” that he was nearing a deal with Turkey on a mutually agreeable exit plan from Syria. Later that night, Trump tweeted that he would “devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds.”
On January 15th, Iran attempted a space launch, disregarding a warning by Secretary Pompeo not to do so.
During his wreckage-strewn tour of the Middle East, Secretary of State Pompeo spoke to an audience at the American University of Cairo on January 10th, declaring that, “countries increasingly understand that we must confront the ayatollahs, not coddle them.” The United States and Poland will convene an international meeting on the Iranian threat, inviting ministers from around the world to the February 13-14 meeting in Warsaw. Russia declined to attend, as has European Union EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. Press reports indicate that France is also unlikely to send its foreign minister. Luxembourg’s foreign minister said he would miss the event because of a prior arrangement. The UK and Germany have not yet taken any official positions.
More to come…