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Boyd: Trump’s erratic foreign policy diminishes long-term international standing of U.S.

Ryan Boyd, Op-Ed Contributor

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President Donald Trump has been erratic, wildly unprofessional and shamefully indifferent to the results of his actions. He’s behaved like a callous neophyte with the intellectual curiosity of a potted plant. These character flaws have defined the Trump administration’s foreign policy and severely diminished the international standing of the U.S. over the past nine months. This has already hampered U.S. strategic goals and could severely limit the country’s international leverage for years after this administration.

First, Trump has alienated world leaders across the board and is loathed by many countries. He lambasted Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, told Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto to take care of the “bad hombres” south of the border, publicly called out German chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy and essentially sided with French president Emmanuel Macron’s controversial rival, Marine Le Pen, during the most recent French election. And that list is nowhere near comprehensive. Unsurprisingly, because of his disrespectful nature, vulgarity and all-around incompetence, Trump is staggeringly unpopular. At the end of former President Barack Obama’s term, 64 percent of people throughout the world had confidence in the U.S. president. By June, only six months into Trump’s term, worldwide confidence had dropped to 22 percent. This collapse — combined with Trump’s poor personal relationships with many world leaders — has cost this country much needed international goodwill and soft power.

Additionally, Trump’s policies have failed in region after region. In Asia, the current administration has rapidly ceded ground to China. Pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership will allow President Xi Jinping to write Asia’s trade rules — potentially leading to worse environmental protections and labor standards. And Trump’s bellicosity toward North Korea has made China seem like the responsible actor in the region. The long-term implications for the world of ceding power to an autocratic country are clear: less democracy and less economic freedom.

Trump has not fared any better in the Middle East. He recently declined to re-certify the Iran Nuclear Deal and passed the issue onto Congress, putting the deal in jeopardy. This was against the advice of his top military and foreign policy advisors, and it’s not hard to see why. The Europeans, Chinese and Russians are all against such a move. This means that if the U.S. pulls out of the deal, only a small portion of the economic sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place will be restored. Thus, Iran will remain free of most sanctions and able to restart its nuclear program. In the eyes of much of the world, Trump has made theocratic Iran the responsible law-abiding partner in this agreement. That’s quite an accomplishment.

The long-term damage caused by this insanity is immense. The U.S. has lost all ability to deal with international crises — North Korea, Myanmar, Qatar, climate change — and thus cannot even begin to focus on forwarding an agenda that improves global economic and security conditions.

We have lost our global credibility after electing an incompetent, unbalanced and uninformed leader. Even if Trump only lasts one term and a sensible person takes his place, countries will likely still wonder whether the next president is just another Trump — reckless and willing to tear up any agreement. And this loss will take decades to reverse.

Ryan Boyd is a Weinberg freshman. He can be contacted at ryanboyd2021@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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