THROUGHOUT his 2016 Presidential campaign and his four years in office, Donald Trump has repeatedly maligned the US’ “ridiculous, endless” wars, prompting analysts to describe him as an anti-interventionist candidate.
While Mr Trump’s foreign outlook was certainly not based in anti-imperialist thought, there was a clear divide between him and Hilary Clinton, a candidate who had cheered on incursions into Iraq and Libya.
Thomas Wright of the Brookings Institution went so far as to write: “A Trump administration would pose the greatest shock to international peace and stability since the 1930s.
“This is not because Mr. Trump would invade other countries but because he would unilaterally liquidate the liberal international order that presidents have built and defended since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. If the word ‘isolationist’ has any meaning, he qualifies as one.”
Mr Trump even ran on the false notion that he opposed the Iraq war, and more importantly, that his ‘America First’ policy would keep America out of future conflict.
It was a silver lining in a very dark cloud – that Mr Trump would wreak havoc domestically, but at least leave the Global South alone.
Predictably, this has not been the case.
Despite making strides towards peace in North Korea, sabre-rattling with Iran, backing Netanyahu to the hilt and being complicit in coups in Bolivia and Venezuela have shown that US imperialism is alive and well.
This November he will face Joe Biden, the vice-president to a Nobel Peace Prize winner who ushered in a new era of drone strikes.
And as the Republican Party announced their manifesto yesterday, it seems Mr Trump may end his facade – despite still acting under the name of ‘America First’.
Let’s go through his foreign policy commitments, point-by-point:
AMERICA FIRST FOREIGN POLICY
- Stop Endless Wars and Bring Our Troops Home
Despite pledging to withdraw troops from the Middle East, there are now more troops there than when he took office.
The Pentagon deployed about 14,000 additional troops to the Persian Gulf region, including roughly 3,500 to Saudi Arabia last year, and is stepping up its presence in Sahel.
- Get Allies to Pay their Fair Share
Mr Trump has consistently rallied against NATO allies, recently withdrawing thousands of troops from Germany. This pledge is not isolationist in any means – it is hoping European nations co-sponsor US imperialism.
- Maintain and Expand America’s Unrivaled Military Strength
Once again, how is this ‘America First’? Why maintain a massive military if not to use it elsewhere. This should concern those who still think of the President as an anti-war candidate.
- Wipe Out Global Terrorists Who Threaten to Harm Americans
No explanation needed.
- Build a Great Cybersecurity Defense System and Missile Defense System
2019 was the year of surprising diplomacy between the US and North Korea over missiles – but has this era ended already?
Mr Trump is still keen to present himself as the candidate who will put domestic issues above all else – but like his Democratic opponent, it appears certain he will continue US empire.
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