All of Trump’s Foreign Policy Initiatives Are Failing

Do you remember that time when Donald Trump tweeted that “trade wars are good and easy to win?” I can’t think of a better example of this president’s ignorance. He started a trade war with China back in May when trade talks broke down. Here is what has happened since then.

  • Trade talks broke down once again last week and Trump threatened to add 10% tariffs on another $300 billion in imports beginning September 1st.
  • The Chinese central bank allowed the yuan to weaken due to concern about “trade protectionism and new tariffs on China.”
  • The Chinese government suspended purchases of U.S. agricultural products and doesn’t rule out more tariffs.
  • The Trump administration designated China as a currency manipulator.

So now it looks like the president is going to add a currency war to the trade war. Who knows where this all will end? What is clear is that Americans are paying the price for his ignorance.

On another foreign policy front, the situation isn’t much better.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff announced late Tuesday the launch of what it described as two short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) that flew up to 280 miles east off North Korea’s west coast, reaching a maximum altitude of 23 feet at a top speed of nearly Mach 6.9, or nearly seven times the speed of sound. The launch was the fourth of its kind in less than two weeks, marking a dramatic increase in the pace of North Korea’s weapons testing just as its two top foes began training together despite ongoing denuclearization talks.

Just around the time the tests were conducted, the North Korean Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling the joint U.S.-South Korean maneuvers “an undisguised denial and a flagrant violation” of agreements it made with Washington on June 12 and with Seoul on April 27 and September 19 of last year.

Trump responded in a way that demonstrates his complete and utter denial of reality.

The other hot-spot in foreign policy is our relationship with Iran. This is what Robin Wright of the New Yorker is reporting on that front.

Last month, amid a rapid-fire escalation in tensions between Washington and Tehran, the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, received an unexpected invitation—to meet President Donald Trump in the Oval Office. The diplomatic overture was made by Senator Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican, during a meeting with Zarif in New York on July 15th, according to American and Iranian sources and a well-informed diplomat.

When Zarif declined the invitation, Trump imposed sanctions on him personally in retaliation.

This administration went all-in on an attempt to overthrow Maduro in Venezuela. Those efforts failed, and so the administration is resurrecting the same policy that was a disaster in Cuba.

In a dramatic escalation of his administration’s pressure campaign against Venezuela‘s Nicolás Maduro, President Donald Trump has imposed a full embargo on the socialist president’s government.

The executive order, signed late Monday, freezes all Venezuelan assets in America’s jurisdiction and importantly allows the U.S. to impose sanctions on anyone doing business with Maduro.

The historic move puts Venezuela in the same category as North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Syria in terms of how much economic pressure and global isolation the U.S. is attempting to impose on it.

Critics say the move is a sign of the decision’s misdirection, as decades of similar embargoes have failed to change the governments or policies of Havana or Tehran.

The one positive thing I can say about Trump’s foreign policy is that he obviously wants to avoid getting this country entangled in another war. Given all of his other failings, that is a huge relief. However, one move he announced a few months ago was finalized last week, and could put the entire globe at risk.

The Trump administration said on Friday that it was suspending one of the last major nuclear arms control treaties with Russia, following five years of heated conversations over accusations by the United States that Moscow is violating the Reagan-era agreement.

The decision has the potential to incite a new arms race — not only with Russia, but also with China, which was never a signatory to the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, widely known as the I.N.F.

It also comes as the United States has begun building its first long-range nuclear weapons since 1991, a move that other nations are citing to justify their own nuclear modernization efforts.

Taken together, the two moves appear to signal the end of more than a half-century of traditional nuclear arms control, in which the key agreements were negotiated in Washington and Moscow.

It is unclear whether President Trump plans to replace the I.N.F. or to renew another major treaty, called New Start, which drove American and Russian nuclear arsenals to their lowest levels in nearly 60 years. That accord expires in 2021, just weeks after the next presidential inauguration.

This is the one that David Andelman, executive director of The Red Lines Project at the Center for National Security at Fordham University, describes as “Trump’s most catastrophic decision.”

The chaos and divisions we are experiencing domestically as a result of Trump’s presidency are also infecting our foreign policy. There is nothing on the horizon to indicate that any of that will improve.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.