How much foreign policy damage can Trump do? (Ted Kaufman)
“Is it possible to destroy, in one four-year presidential term, an essentially bipartisan approach to foreign policy that has existed since 1945.” From this starting point, former Sen. Kaufman goes on to blame the president for problems around the globe.
CHINA (Trump’s trade war, compounded by misrepresenting who is bearing the burden of the US tariffs and constantly changing his tariff positions at the G7); NORTH KOREA (acting friendly with dictator Kim and acquiescing in his testing of intermediate missiles that threaten South Korea and Japan); EUROPE & NATO (a recent Pew Research poll, taken before the ill-fated G7 Summit, showed that confidence in the US country has cratered, e.g., from 84% for Obama to 9% for Trump in France); SYRIA & IRAQ (unfavorable DOD IG report indicates that ISIS has solidified its insurgent capabilities in Iraq and is resurging in Syria. Although US has spent billions of dollars on Iraqi security forces, they “often lack the ability to maintain forces in cleared territory.” ISRAEL (No indication that any Middle East country supports the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan being “cooked up” by son-in-law Jared Kushner. And the “latest fiasco” is Trump’s getting Netanyahu to ban US Congresswomen from visiting Israel, which “has poisoned relations in both countries.” IRAN (Policy of “maximum pressure” is not working, and they have used Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement to increase their uranium enrichment. Confrontations in the Strait of Hormuz are dangerous, and “the odds of us stumbling into a disastrous war have become ominous.” RUSSIA – Recommendation to G7 that Russia be reinstated in what had become the G8 confirms, as though other heads of state didn’t already know it, that President Trump “has no knowledge of foreign policy.” Why in the world would they go along, when they are “all united in their deep concerns about what Putin is doing to tamper with their elections and destabilize their governments?” SAUDI ARABIA (Trump keeps shoring up Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman despite our intelligence community’s certainty he ordered the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi). AFGHANISTAN (Trump increased the number of US troops in 2017, to no good effect. Now there are “credible rumors” within the Defense Department that he may bring all the troops home before the 2020 elections, despite the fact that “our direct negotiations with the Taliban have yet to have any concrete results.”)
How has one man done so much damage? Doesn’t do the hard work - has not shown even an elementary grasp of the basic issues - has failed to fill “hundreds of key positions” and/or appointed “Kushner-like sycophants whose only qualifications are loyalty to Trump.
At the end, the writer offers one concession. “The world has been and would be a dangerous place even if there had never been a President Trump.”
COMMENTS: Many of these problems stem from blunders of previous administrations, e.g., President Obama (a) permitted the rise of ISIS by a premature withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, (b) vastly complicated the situation in Syria by agreeing to a Russian presence in that country, and (c) entered into a disastrous nuclear agreement with Iran without seeking congressional approval (which assuredly would not have been forthcoming). Compare: "Catastrophic decisions”: Mattis [book] savages Obama for “failure” in foreign policy, Kelly Jane Torrance, Washington Examiner,9/3/19. Also, the column fails to mention recent developments re VENEZUELA that arguably show commendable leadership by the Trump administration. Instead of indulging in snarky attacks like this one, why doesn’t Mr. Kaufman discuss proposed solutions that his own political party would offer for the path forward.