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Trump’s Foreign Policy

October 27, 2018

The aspiration to transcend the uncoordinated and seeming chaos of a multitude of national interests led to development of a body of international law and organizations. A feeling of openness to the interests of others became the dominant sentiment of Western, and especially American, intellectuals and political leaders.

This political religion of Internationalism, if it may be described as such, has dominated our consciousness of relations between nations since July 10, 1919 when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed,  in his address to the United States Senate presenting a treaty of peace with Germany, a higher principle than balance of power

Every true heart in the world, and every enlightened judgment demanded that,  at whatever cost of independent action, every government that took thought for its people or for justice or for ordered freedom would lend itself to a new purpose and utterly destroy the old order of international politics.

Woodrow Wilson’s desire to “utterly destroy” the balancing of national power and interests with a superior system was yoked with his desire to destroy “autocratic authority.” “Woodrow Wilson was persuaded that only governments governed by majority rule, not by “dictators,” could truly seek peace.  His “ideology” sought to replace the actions of sovereign nations with a system of international law and international organizations. Paying service to international law has been a dominant feature of American foreign policy ever since.

From Woodrow Wilson to Franklin Roosevelt and the Presidencies of Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy and Richard Nixon through all following Presidential Administrations, the guiding idea of American foreign policy has been to conform to a body of international law.

Coincidentally, as “Internationalism” became political religion and no longer based on a theory of international relations, the status of other nations was diminished.The subject populations of nations in Eastern Europe and portions of defeated Germany were abandoned and lost faith in the West.  That, coupled with the defeat of Chaing Kai-shek’s Republic of China led to ruptures in American politics and a growing anti-communist movement.

Even though President Trump’s address to the United Nations on Tuesday, September 25, was intended to drive a stake into the heart of the ideology of “Internationalism” and replace it with balance of power relationships between nations, when boxes draped in the flag of the United Nations containing remains of Americans killed in Korea were returned, the Trump Administration didn’t have the wit to replace the U.N. flags with American flags.

A characteristic of many American politicians is their belief that all that is necessary to establish new policy is to give a policy speech. President Trump’s speaking schedule indicates that he has bought into that idea and magnified it.

But, his Administration is governed by a personal conceit that relations with other nations requires personal relationships. That coupled with President Trump’s stated belief that “we have enough people,” and his failure to  pay serious attention to the President’s appointment power, spells trouble in the short and long term.

According to a “tracker” of Presidential appointments maintained by the Partnership for Public Service in cooperation with the Washington Post, as of October 22, of 709 positions requiring Senate confirmation, 130 have no nominees and 182 have been nominated, but await confirmation after two years in office.

Though Democrats in the U.S. Senate have intentionally stalled most nominations, President Trump believes that he can run the government of the United States like a small business. He has no understanding of which persons might serve him faithfully and relies on members of his family or former military.

President Trump also believes that relations between governments is best conducted by personal meetings with heads of state. No planning was conducted before important meetings with Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un and President Trump met privately, with no other member of his Administration present, during talks with Russia’s Putin.

All this suggests that disasters await the Trump Administration’s foreign and national security policies. The recent murder of Iranian journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, is complicated by a personal relationship by the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Prince Mohammed bin Salmon and the absence of a U.S. Ambassador in Saudi Arabia.

Even when President Trump appoints non-family members to his Cabinet, as in the case of former CIA director Mike Pompeo, his appointees lack understanding of how necessary it is to control the career bureaucracy. Mike Pompeo made a mistake in choosing as his successor April Glaspie, a career CIA appointee, who now has been sent to Saudi Arabia to discuss the Khashoggi murder. Glaspie was implicated in the use of torture against Islamic radicals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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