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Foreign Policy Impact of the Trump Insurrection

donsutherland1

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In an essay, former diplomat and current President of the Council on Foreign Relations discusses the foreign policy implications of the Trump Insurrection. Just as President Trump's foreign policy--withdrawal from agreements, disrespect for and verbal assaults on allies, borderline appeasement of North Korea, protectionist attacks on a global scale, and broad retreat from world affairs--was, by and large, destabilizing and damaging to U.S. interests and those of its allies, Haass suggests that the terrible events of January 6, 2021 will have a profound adverse impact on the American global position.

Haass explained:

But the damage wrought by the events in Washington on January 6—the lawlessness and violence at the U.S. Capitol and the refusal, by Trump and dozens of Republican members of Congress, to accept the results of the November presidential election—will be even greater, on U.S. foreign policy as well as on U.S. democracy... What took place last week was a distinctly American failure, but the consequences go far beyond American shores. A post-American world, one no longer defined by U.S. primacy, is coming sooner than generally expected—less because of the inevitable rise of others than because of what the United States has done to itself...

The images reinforced the sense among fellow democracies that something is seriously wrong in and with the United States. How was it, they asked, that so many Americans could vote for a leader who had, even before last week, attacked independent judicial and media institutions, refused to set a strong example in the face of a highly lethal pandemic, and violated many of his country’s oldest political norms? Their fear is that even after Trump leaves the Oval Office, he will remain on the political scene, influencing American politics and dominating the Republican Party for some time to come; the restoration of more traditional American behavior under Joe Biden and Kamala Harris could, from the vantage of most U.S. allies, prove only a limited and temporary respite.


These are important points. One cannot understate the damage inflicted by the election of Donald Trump and the policies of the outgoing Trump Administration. The credibility and sustainability of American commitments have been damaged. International leaders will need to be wary that American commitments are just one quadrennial election away from possibly being overturned. They will also need to be wary of the existence of a toxic, neo-isolationist, protectionist, right-wing populist movement of sufficient scale to disrupt U.S. policy and influence the outcome of elections. Added to that will be legitimate questions about governance stability.

Where does this leave U.S. allies such as South Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand among others who live at the periphery of a shrinking or weakened American role and a rising China? Even worse, the myopic policies of the outgoing Trump Administration have turned what would already have been a challenging task of managing the implications from the onging shift in the balance of power resulting from a rising China onto a more hostile trajectory--maybe not a new "Cold War" but certainly nothing like a partnership over shared interests that otherwise might have been attainable.
 

joluoto

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The big question every US ally have around the Globe will be: can the US be trusted again? And that will be what Biden will have to ensure them. Whether Biden's administration can win back US credibility remains to be seen.
 

donsutherland1

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The big question every US ally have around the Globe will be: can the US be trusted again? And that will be what Biden will have to ensure them. Whether Biden's administration can win back US credibility remains to be seen.
I believe you raise the key challenge that will impact American foreign policy in the early stages of a post-Trump period.

Once he takes office, President-elect Biden will have a monumental foreign policy task, in addition to his domestic challenges (addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, fiscal stimulus to support a floundering economy, renewing the Trump-aborted effort to address the challenge of climate change, cleaning up the aftermath of the Trump Insurrection, among other issues). His appointing some highly-respected diplomats to head the State Department and even the CIA represent an attempt to fast-track the foreign policy effort.

Even as his foreign policy approach will be more in line with what had traditionally been the case for the United States following the end of World War II and some quick measures such as rejoining the World Health Organization and Paris Climate Agreement are possible, it will take a lot of time to restore American credibility. Moreover, rattled countries all across the world will have reason to mitigate risks, as the large populist base that enabled Donald Trump to win the Presidency and provided him with some 74 million votes will still be present. Some of that base will likely have been shattered by the Trump Insurrection, but there will remain a large number of hard-core loyalists. The continuing inability or unwillingness of House and Senate Republicans to hold the President accountable for his actions reflects the continuing influence of that base.

That means that every near-term election could pose the risk of new foreign policy constraints, if not reversals. Thus, at least some countries in parts of Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Pacific Region will be compelled to pursue a risk management strategy aimed at securing their critical interests should there be a new reversal in American foreign policy. That rational hedging will reduce the value of American foreign policy commitments through at least the medium-term.

Overall, it will likely take multiple Presidencies to rebuild the credibility that was destroyed by the Trump Administration. Building something requires a lot more time and investment than destroying something.
 

Tangmo

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The points of the OP are well taken, ie, valid and unsettling.

Still however the DictatorTyrants in Beijing have shelved their plan since 1949 to invade Taiwan if necessary to prevent a Taiwan formal declaration of independence or the gradual loss of Taiwan by attrition, ie, Beijing's inaction over time.

The catalyst is the Taiwan Defense Act introduced in each chamber of Congress last year that addresses what Beijing had in the works, ie, seizing Taiwan by fait accompli. That would be Beijing acting suddenly and swiftly to seize Taiwan before the US and allies of the region could react in time to defeat the invasion by land, sea, air.

TDA concedes Taiwan is difficult in the extreme for the US to defend. The island is 100 miles off the China coast and although there easily are 100,000 US forces in the immediate area -- Japan, Guam, SK mainly -- with premier equipment, that force would be subject to close in PLA missiles which Beijing has a swarm of.

It is granted from the outset that PLA attacking Taiwan is a Normandy D-Day scale operation if not a relatively greater one for Beijing to do, and that Beijing remains incapable of executing such an operation presently and for the foreseeable future. The capacity and capability date self set by Beijing was 2020 and now is reset to 2023 while Pentagon sees 2030 if ever at all.

Still what clinched Beijing's abandoning altogether the long held invasion doctrine is the inclusion in the proposed Taiwan Defense Act of the nuclear option by the U.S. against both PLA forces attacking the island and in their staging and support areas on the continental mainland of China. TDA is the first time the US has said in specific terms anything nuclear about Taiwan or about any place as a specific means of defense and defeat of an aggressor enemy force.

Moreover, the proposed TDA was written and introduced by Sen. Josh Hawley who is a high god of the seditious right that has always been hostile in the extreme toward the Chicoms and who would likely welcome a nuclear option against 'em. At the opposite end of the spectrum I among others would consider a nuclear first strike against aggressor Russian forces in Europe-Eurasia as an option to be seriously considered. The USA does indeed have a deep bench of options to maintain its national security in a nation divided and a world that has a new and seriously profound instability.

I'm sure Putin has taken notice of the TDA and Beijing's totally intimidated response to it, as have Tehran and Pyongyang. The proposed defense oriented act is both forward and bold in a time of increasing uncertainty and great danger for the USA and democracies globally.
 

donsutherland1

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The points of the OP are well taken, ie, valid and unsettling.

Still however the DictatorTyrants in Beijing have shelved their plan since 1949 to invade Taiwan if necessary to prevent a Taiwan formal declaration of independence or the gradual loss of Taiwan by attrition, ie, Beijing's inaction over time.

The catalyst is the Taiwan Defense Act introduced in each chamber of Congress last year that addresses what Beijing had in the works, ie, seizing Taiwan by fait accompli. That would be Beijing acting suddenly and swiftly to seize Taiwan before the US and allies of the region could react in time to defeat the invasion by land, sea, air.

TDA concedes Taiwan is difficult in the extreme for the US to defend. The island is 100 miles off the China coast and although there easily are 100,000 US forces in the immediate area -- Japan, Guam, SK mainly -- with premier equipment, that force would be subject to close in PLA missiles which Beijing has a swarm of.

It is granted from the outset that PLA attacking Taiwan is a Normandy D-Day scale operation if not a relatively greater one for Beijing to do, and that Beijing remains incapable of executing such an operation presently and for the foreseeable future. The capacity and capability date self set by Beijing was 2020 and now is reset to 2023 while Pentagon sees 2030 if ever at all.

Still what clinched Beijing's abandoning altogether the long held invasion doctrine is the inclusion in the proposed Taiwan Defense Act of the nuclear option by the U.S. against both PLA forces attacking the island and in their staging and support areas on the continental mainland of China. TDA is the first time the US has said in specific terms anything nuclear about Taiwan or about any place as a specific means of defense and defeat of an aggressor enemy force.

Moreover, the proposed TDA was written and introduced by Sen. Josh Hawley who is a high god of the seditious right that has always been hostile in the extreme toward the Chicoms and who would likely welcome a nuclear option against 'em. At the opposite end of the spectrum I among others would consider a nuclear first strike against aggressor Russian forces in Europe-Eurasia as an option to be seriously considered. The USA does indeed have a deep bench of options to maintain its national security in a nation divided and a world that has a new and seriously profound instability.

I'm sure Putin has taken notice of the TDA and Beijing's totally intimidated response to it, as have Tehran and Pyongyang. The proposed defense oriented act is both forward and bold in a time of increasing uncertainty and great danger for the USA and democracies globally.
I believe deterrence is the most effective means to reduce the risk of aggression. I do not support nuclear first strikes. The precedent would be awful and the human toll would be catastrophic. Moreover, alternative options such as deterrence are available.
 

donsutherland1

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A CNN analysis discusses some of the long-lasting damage the Trump Administration has inflicted on the U.S.-Europe partnership, one of the United States’ most valuable and important relationships. Excerpts:

"From our perspective, Trump saw Europe as an enemy," a senior European diplomat told CNN. "The lasting impact of 'America First' is the US having fewer friends in Europe."

A senior European Union official said the general view in Brussels was that Trump went out of his way to "gradually undo a lot of what the EU was working towards on the world stage," pointing specifically to the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord.

While the assumption is that the transatlantic relationship will improve under Biden, four years of carnage has spooked the European political scene.
 
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