President Donald Trump has orchestrated the most unconventional 100 hours in the history of modern US diplomacy,
President Donald Trump’s recent tour of Asia was as much a “Trump First” endeavor as it was formally rooted in his “America First” doctrine.
Many of the President’s moves and on-the-fly decisions appeared most aimed enhancing his own position back home with the 2020 election looming.
As the face of America abroad, Trump palled around with dictators, elevated his blood relatives over his foreign policy officials and staged a historically audacious photo op by walking onto the soil of America’s last Cold War rival North Korea in an episode that in the short term is likely to do more for his reelection hopes than global peace.
And it again showcased the President’s open admiration of global strongmen who squelch democracy, as he boasted of his great friendships with men such as Kim Jong Un, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Trump appeared highly satisfied with his work abroad, which showed how he has turned the US away from its traditional role as a force for global stability into an agent of unpredictability — a transformation Trump promised on the campaign trail in 2016.
“So many amazing things happened over the last three days. All, or at least most of those things, are great for the United States. Much was accomplished!” Trump wrote in a late night Sunday tweet after getting home to the White House.
While foreign policy traditionalists and Trump’s critics are horrified about how he handles national security, the President’s behavior is often interpreted by supporters as evidence that someone is standing up for US interests overseas and that conventional approaches, which they blame for disadvantaging America, are being shattered.
On the policy side, The New York Times reported that the administration may be contemplating a deal to “freeze” North Korea’s nuclear program — a huge reversal that would mirror the Iran nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew. Tehran, meanwhile, is blaming his walkout for its decision to bust limits on the enrichment of low grade uranium imposed under the Obama-era agreement, further raising already alarming risks of a war.
Trump also backed down on his policy on the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei — saying it did not represent a “great national emergency” — even though his team has spent months warning US allies not to use its technology in new 5G networks, citing the firm’s alleged links to Chinese intelligence. The move appeared designed to ease the trade war he started with Beijing — and boosted markets, always a politically appealing result for the President.
Many foreign policy experts believe the President cannot afford to go into the election with tariffs still causing pain for US consumers — and with Chinese retaliation targeting farmers into Midwestern states that form his political power base.