Going Global: All Trumped Up

Trump’s foreign policy could be a disaster

trump-in-2011-gage-skidmore-flickr

The advent of the new American president-elect spells sullen storms for U.S. foreign policy. (Flickr: Gage Skidmore)

If Trump wants to enact the changes that he talked about on the campaign trail, there could be a massive shift in the geopolitical chessboard, and it’s not good.

While many consider the United States to be the most powerful country in the world, they’re not the superpower they were in the early 1990s. American ability to influence other states has lessened, as seen in East Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. It’s not so much that the U.S. has gotten weaker, but that other countries are getting stronger, or getting a better understanding of how to play with bad cards.

As your read this, world leaders are scrambling to figure out how to navigate a world with the most powerful country being run by an orange real estate developer. Already Obama is meeting with several allies and states to help them prepare.

It should be stated here that it’s extremely difficult to tell what Trump’s administration could carry out, because Trump seems to change his political views every time the sun rises, and it’s not yet clear if there’ll be an intelligent-yet-hawkish statesman at the helm, or someone completely batshit crazy like Giuliani. It’s hard to predict with any degree of certainty what he might be like for sure.

If the U.S. dials back on NATO, there will be a lot of changes in Europe. One of Trump’s few true statements during the campaign was that the U.S. paid more into NATO than other countries, and that’s absolutely right. NATO recommends signatory states to put 2 per cent or more of their GDP into their military, and the majority of Europe doesn’t do this.

A U.S. withdrawal from NATO would be a big win for Russia and a huge loss for Europe. In order to make up for such a move, every country in Europe would have to shift their government income streams to the military, taking away from some of the things that make European countries so nice to live in.

This is especially worrying, considering how close Trump is to Vladimir Putin. Trump has said many good things about the Russian president, and it hasn’t been cool to say nice things about Russian leadership since Yeltsin.

Another concern would be the situation in Syria, it’s very possible that a Russia-friendly Trump Administration would take no issue moving away from their activity in Syria, enabling Russia to get their way and thus working in the favour of Assad.

Trump has also expressed a desire to leave various climate agreements, such as the Paris agreement. Interestingly, Nicolas Sarkozy has suggested the idea of putting a carbon tariff on goods from the U.S. It’s hard to say whether or not the Europeans would actually implement this.

As for trade agreements, it’s even harder to tell what would happen. Traditionally, Republicans are pro-business and in favour of free trade, but Trump has said many times that he wants to drop TTP and renegotiate NAFTA. Should tariffs be imposed on China and Mexico, the Peterson Institute for International Economics believes that such a move would throw the U.S. into another recession and cost the country 4.8 million jobs.

Overall, the Trump foreign policy angle seems to be that of isolationism, in the same sense that Andrew Jackson was. This might have worked before the world was connected, but things are different now. Withdrawing from the world will be bad for Europe and Canada, and exponentially worse for the Americans.

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