Looking back on Donald: Five unprecedented measures Trump took in office

By Sazzad Haider

AS TRUMP finally relented and transitioned power to Joe Biden, the conclusion was clear.

American voters not only bid adieu to Donald Trump from the Oval Office, but, above all, from the desk of commander-in-chief.

When Trump entered into White House, most of the people of the world had a fear of disastrous nuclear war as the unpredictable Donald now possessed the launch codes.

Four years later, it is clear that this fear was totally baseless.

During his tenure, President Trump did not push the button of any nuclear weaponry and the world was save from another nuclear mushroom like Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

The outgoing US President Donald Trump has been given unconditional thanks from inhabitants of Tehran, Pyongyang or Caracas in this regard.

The following are the five most unprecedented foreign policy measures executed during Trump’s tenure:

Trump’s anti-war policy (!)

Donald Trump has been the least warmongering president this century.

Every predecessor from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama had ‘blood on their hands’, as it were, as they became involved with indiscriminate foreign war.

For example, Noam Chomsky said Clinton’s various interventions were not humanitarian, but were more about extending America’s control over Europe.

In 2001, Bush’s Operation Enduring Freedom began to oust the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and destroy Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network. While the Taliban were (mostly) defeated, peace in Afghanistan still remains as elusive as ever.

Two years later, the USA President George W. Bush launched another Gulf War “to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people.”

Over a million deaths have been recorded since the initial invasion.

Even the Arab Spring failed to achieve its desired success of democracy and peace, however; Egypt has been ruled by the US-backed military junta.  

But in his tenure, Trump has sought to prevent further bloodshed of US troops abroad by avoiding direct war.

Significantly, he initiated the repatriation of large numbers of US soldiers from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.  

When Donald Trump launched a devastating missile strikes against Syria in April 2017 and again in 2018, many feared a full-scale USA invasion was on the cards.

But Trump restrained from a massive bloodshed, much to the relief of US troops and their families. Still, Trump’s critics blamed him for missing an opportunity to eradicate the Putin-backed Assad government and his failure to reduce the Russian influence in Middle East.

In October 2019, Trump ordered to withdraw the US troops from northern Syria. Again, the USA House of Representatives condemned Trump’s withdrawal of the USA troops from Syria and blamed him for “abandoning USA allies, undermining the struggle against ISIS, and spurring a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

The arms manufacturers, no-doubt, became very disappointed following the decision.

In 2019, Trump also overlooked the opportunity to oust Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela.  

He tried to intervene in the Venezuelan constitutional crisis by extending his full support to National Assembly President Juan Guaidó – but ultimately, he avoided an actual ground war against Venezuela.

Most importantly, perhaps, despite lot of babbling, the Persian Gulf was quiet and calm during Trump’s tenure.

Joe Biden is fully expected to reverse Trump’s Middle East policy, in accordance with his previous experience of working with Obama administration as Vice-President.

Human rights activists hope he will address various global issues, meaning Biden may reshuffle the US policy for Middle East, especially to deal with Saudi Arabia.

As a core opponent of Vladimir Putin, undoubtedly, Joe Biden will take all out measure to eradicate Russian influence in the Middle East specially in Syria.

So there are fears that Biden will deploy more US soldiers in Middle- East, even he will engage a full-fledge war to overthrow Assad.

Moreover, he can intensify US domination of Libya and Yemen by deploying US troops around the region.. Understandably, there is some apprehension about the new war and bloodshed in Middle East.

Trump’s diplomatic drama

Donald Trump famously staged a diplomatic summit to solve the nuclear dispute with North Korea, holding three high profile meetinsg with ‘Rocket-Boy’ Kim Jong-un.

He also received a “beautiful letter. While bold, he was too slow to acheive his goal of preventing North Korea from hosting missiles.

However, Trump’s dramatic moves have opened a door for Joe Biden to hold peace talks with the US’ most traditionally notorious enemy.

Israel’s gain

Donald Trump reshuffled his Israeli policy by creating disunity among the Arab rulers. He extended his all-out support to Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a bid to execute his agenda.

In turn, Prince Salman is believed to have masterminded the initiative of Arab recognition to Israel. As per Trump’s blueprint, he insisted the UAE and Bahrain to normalise relations with Israel, who are now enjoying increased favour with the majority of Arab countries.

Israel has gained a lot without involving a war and Netanyahu can be grateful to Trump.

Trump’s Isolation Policy

Trump’s “America First” agenda has significantly weakened a decades-long relationship between the USA and its traditional allies.

His decision to withdraw from the Paris climate treaty, the Iranian nuclear deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, UNESCO, the United Nations Human Rights Council, the World Health Organization have reduced the US’ global responsibilities.

The US – along with some European countries – retreated from the globalization under Trump’s premiership, instead adopting nationalist policies. But the conceptual existence of the globalization has become weaker during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some countries have decided to close borders, imposed travel bans and declared curfews. The pandemic has also widened the gap between member states in the European Union.

Global organizations such as G7, G20 and EU failed to mitigate of pandemic suffering. The USA unprecedentedly criticised the World Health Organization and subsequently suspended all funding.

Trump’s decision on the WHO during the pandemic has reduced the USA global influence and undermined its leading position in world health sectors. The isolation policy of Trump administration downplayed the US’ historical responsibility and its role for the global solidarity.  

Undoubtedly, Washington’s NATO allies felt great relief as Joe Biden was elected next President instead of another term for the isolationist.

Trump raised the question of the existence of NATO and pushed the alliance to the verge of disbanding.

Biden, meanwhile will uphold his nation’s international responsibility and will come back to implement Paris climate treaty.

He is also expected to play his due role in UNESCO, WHO and other UN’s forum, even he may restart talks to prevent Iran from Its nuclear ambition.

Trump’s Trade War with China

In 2018, Trump ignited the trade war by setting tariffs and other trade barriers on China to stop “unfair trade practices and intellectual property theft.”

The two countries engaged a tit-for-tat tariff war, countless negotiations, restricted foreign technology, filed several WTO cases, and intensified US-China trade disputes to the brink of a full-fledged, unprecedented trade-war.

In the first wave, the USA imposed tariffs on more over $360 billion of the Chinese products and China countered with tariffs on more than $ 110 billions of US goods.

The Trump administration also restricted American companies from using China-made telecommunications equipment, and targeted Huawei.

In response, Chinese State-owned enterprises stopped buying US agricultural products – worth $20 billion per year before the trade war.

According a published report in May, the US-China trade war erased $ 1.7 trillion from US companies’ market value after the beginning of trade war 2018.

The trade conflict cut US investment growth by 0.3% by the end of 2019 and is predicted to fall 1.6% by the end of 2020.

In August 2019, Trump administration designated China a currency manipulator following the devolution of the yuan by China’s Central Bank. China termed the designation as tool to create financial market turmoil.
In November 2019, and tensions between two countries were further complicated following the approval of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act in Congress.

China condemned the move, imposed sanctions on several US organizations and suspended US warship tours to Hong Kong.

In January 2020, a major breakthrough finally arrived in this two-year trade war of the world’s two largest economies following the signing a deal between US President Donald Trump and the Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.

The deal sees the US relax some tariffs on Chinese goods while China is to buy millions worth of American products.

The US also dropped its designation of China as a currency manipulator.

Thus, the economic cold war between the world’s largest economic powers has ceased – for now – and normal trade relations have been resumed.

Opinion articles featured on Redaction reflect the views of their author, not those of the publication as a whole. Only Editorials display the opinions of our management.

Sazzad Haider is a Bangladeshi journalist and editor of the Diplomatic Kournal. He has written on international diplomacy for various online publications in the US, Canada and Britain.     

Featured Image: Gage Skidmore @Flickr

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