Cleaning Up the Mess Part 4 -- National Security and Foreign Affairs
The Trump Administration has alienated many of our most important and long standing allies in Europe, has further destabilized the Middle East and has cozied up to dictators in Russia and North Korea. The President has ruined long-standing trade relationships and alliances and weakened important advances in international law, such as the Climate Change Agreement and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Agreements with Russia and Iran. He has developed deep and unusual friendships with President Putin and Dear Leader Kim Jong Un which have yet to bear any fruit or measurable progress on historical enmities. He has on many fronts shredded his own and our nation’s credibility and good name. It will take some time and much effort for the next President to repair the damages he has wrought in such a short time in office.
As promised in his campaign, President Trump has sought to establish more cordial relationships with President Putin. To date, this has not paid off in any lessening of Russian efforts to destabilize other European nations. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/techtank/2019/07/31/combating-disinformation-and-foreign-interference-in-democracies-lessons-from-europe/ And lately the US and Russia have ended long term agreements on the development of intermediate range missiles and nuclear arms. https://www.armscontrol.org/print/2556 President Trump recently sought to persuade the G-7 nations to readmit Russia, and he has also blocked Congressionally authorized military aid to the Ukraine to combat the Russian separatist movement in eastern Ukraine.
· Iran deal
As promised in his campaign, President Trump has ended US participation in the arduously negotiated multilateral agreements that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons and will be able to participate in the global economy. The President has reinstituted economic sanctions and taken hostile actions against Iranian oil shipments. The Iranians have undertaken hostile action to disrupt shipments of oil in the Persian Gulf. Iran has begun to resume its efforts to develop nuclear weapons. The Europeans, Russia and China are seeking to restore the agreement.
· Korea deal
President Trump has sought to engage North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in talks to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. Two rounds of talks between the two leaders have yet to produce any substantive agreements, but appear to have developed an unlikely chemistry between the two leaders. North Korea is now conducting short-range missile tests. It is possible that a third summit could be held in the run up to the 2020 election to display President Trump’s diplomatic prowess.
· China deal
Rather than resolve trade disputes through traditional diplomacy, President Trump has initiated a trade war with China with steadily escalating tariffs. A substantial deterioration in commerce and investments between the two countries has resulted. The US and China are among each other’s largest trading partners and the world’s two largest economies. China has surpassed the US in manufacturing and has a very large trade balance with the US. President Trump wants to reduce the trade imbalance and end several Chinese economic policies that he maintains give the Chinese unfair trading advantages. The unresolved dispute is weakening US economic growth by about 1% annually, is hurting US farmers quite badly, is hurting China’s own very large growth as well, and is contributing to a global economic slowdown and likely a recession. Most independent observers believe that escalating tariffs are exactly the wrong approach and a poor tactic to resolving trade disputes between the two parties. Negotiations are scheduled to resume this fall. An economic recession in 2020 would be likely to cost the President his re-election.
· Latin America
President Trump has sought to force out the incompetent President Maduro of Venezuela to no effect. He has cancelled the diplomatic improvements in US-Cuba relations as he promised, but to no effect. He has found a kindred hard right populist spirit in President Bolsonaro of Brazil, who is having some difficulties with his agrarian supporters burning down the Amazonian rain forest to make more room for farming.
· Mideast peace deals
There are four separate and to a certain extent overlapping and intertwined crises in the Mideast – Israel and the Palestinians, the Syrian Civil War, the rise of ISIS, and the Saudi-Iran (Sunni/Shia) conflict. He has aligned with the Israelis on Jerusalem, the Golan and West Bank settlements leaving no room for a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has allowed the Russians, Iranians and Assad forces to slaughter the Sunni led opposition movement in Syria. He has successfully continued the Obama Administration’s military efforts to drive out ISIS from their strongholds in Syria and Iraq; however ISIS has morphed and now gone underground. He has abrogated the Obama Administration’s agreements and diplomatic openings with Iran and fully aligned with Saudi Arabia in their proxy war with Iran in Yemen. He is/was close to negotiating an American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan with the Taliban; however the violence there continues unabated, including a recent increase in the killings of innocent civilians and US and allied soldiers with Taliban bombings across the country.
· NATO and EU
President Trump has denigrated NATO as outdated, obsolete and useless and declared the EU a trade enemy. He has attacked the leaders of the UK, Germany and France and expressed support for hard right movements and their leaders in Hungary, Poland, the UK, France, Italy and Germany. His efforts to befriend Vladimir Putin, who not so long ago invaded and annexed Crimea and is causing consternation by violating airspace and making threatening moves in the Baltics, have created real issues of trust with our traditional European allies. His imposition of tariffs on European steel on the grounds of US national security has enraged US allies. As a result he is isolated from and distrusted by our allies at a time when we need them on issues from the Middle East, to Russia adventurism and Chinese trade policies.
· Trade Pacts (EU, Canada and Mexico, TPP)
President Trump does not like multi-lateral trade pacts and as a result has withdrawn from the TPP and discontinued trade negotiations with the EU. Withdrawal from the TPP opens the door to Chinese dominance in trading around the Pacific rim at the very time the US needs those nations as allies in combating unfair trade practices. Likewise he serially offended the Presidents of both of our closest neighbors and largest trading partners in renegotiating NAFTA while making a few significant updates in the trade agreement.
· Climate change
President Trump does not believe in climate change. He has therefore given notice that the US is withdrawing from the Paris Climate Treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, effective in 2020. The US is the number two CO2 emitter in the world, measured both as total emissions and as emissions per capita. https://www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/science-and-impacts/science/each-countrys-share-of-co2.html One hundred and ninety five nations have signed including almost all of the major emitters; eleven other countries are in the process of ratifying the agreement. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_parties_to_the_Paris_Agreement
The Constitution forbids the President from taking foreign and domestic emoluments i.e. using his office for his own profit. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/IF11086.pdf Some of the President’s golf courses, hotels, resorts and developments have been experiencing increasing financial difficulty; he has begun taking foreign and domestic emoluments at increasing rates by directing the US government to use his properties at taxpayer expense for the public’s business, e.g. Vice President Pence recent stay at Doonbeg, US military stopovers at Turnberry in Scotland, the President’s proposed G-7 meeting at Doral. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/09/06/air-force-trump-scottish-retreat-1484337 and https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/05/trump-emoluments-corruption-mike-pence-hotel and https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/trumps-plan-to-host-the-g-7-revives-the-issue-of-emoluments
Having recently flunked his auditions in weather forecasting and empathy for hurricane victims in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the Carolinas, it is becoming increasingly evident that President Trump is no longer fit to exercise the extraordinary powers of the high office that he holds and ever more imperative that the Cabinet, the leaders of both parties in Congress, and/or the American people remove President Trump from public office at the earliest date possible, whether by the 25th Amendment, impeachment and conviction, or by an overwhelming electoral defeat in November 2020. No one now knows when to believe the President and when not, and on matters of the nation’s national security, Presidential credibility is crucial.
Prepared by: Lucien Wulsin