Trump’s Foreign Policy Legacy

by

Wednesday, February 24, 2021


On January 15, President Donald Trump was granted the Order of Muhammad, Morocco’s highest award, by Princess Lalla Joumala Alaoui during a private ceremony in the Oval Office. This award came in recognition of his work and diplomacy across the Middle East.

Throughout the campaign trail prior to his election, Donald Trump repeatedly vowed to alter America’s standing with the rest of the world, pledging to bring an end to forever wars and bring the troops home from abroad. Now, four years later, it is inarguable that he broke away from the status quo of American foreign policy.

In line with his 2016 promises to get America out of its “endless wars,” Donald Trump is the first President since Jimmy Carter not to involve the United States in a new military conflict, and he has withdrawn American troops worldwide at an unprecedented rate despite pushback from the Democrat-led House of Representatives, who amended the National Defense Authorization Act, adding red tape to the process of withdrawal with the aid of Republicans more sympathetic to Bush-era policy such as Liz Cheney.

And despite his abrasive rhetoric, Trump has explored America’s capacity more as a mediator than an enforcer (relative to his predecessors). The Order of Muhammad in particular, of which Trump is the only recipient in history hailing from the American continents, comes in recognition of his administration’s work brokering landmark peace deals across the Middle East. This includes several treaties involving Israel, beginning with the Abraham Accords signed by the UAE and Bahrain on August 13, 2020, soon followed by normalization deals with Sudan, and now Morocco

Israel, the world’s sole Jewish state, had long been alienated from its Arab neighbors throughout generations of hostilities, only establishing official diplomatic relations with two of them, Egypt and Jordan, in 1979 and 1994 respectively. Now, 27 years later and within the span of only five months, that number has tripled.

President Trump has demonstrated this capacity as a mediator outside of the Middle East as well, a notable example being his historic summits with Kim Jong Un to de-escalate longstanding tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the first ever meetings between an American and North Korean leader.

This new military policy runs in stark contrast to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, both of whom further entrenched the United States in violent conflicts abroad.  President Bush famously began the Iraq and Afghanistan War, the latter of which persists to this day, and Obama led destructive interventions in Somalia, Yemen and Syria, despite being a Nobel Peace Prize recipient. Both these Presidents, like many before them, left their successors more theatres of war than they inherited. Donald Trump brought this troubling trend to an abrupt end.

Rather than relying on new and direct military interventions, Trump has dedicated more effort to establishing deterrence through expansions in standing military power, having advocated for “peace through strength” as the center of American military policy since the 2016 campaign trail. He raised defense spending to $738 billion in 2020, and relied on alliances to maintain security. He pushed fellow NATO members to increase security contributions to 4% of their GDP to reciprocate the United States’ leading contribution of 4.3%, and weeded out conflicts of interest within the alliance, for example using sanctions to cut Germany and Turkey’s dependence on Russian natural gas and weaponry respectively. He also supported the sovereignty of lesser equipped governments under threat by the expanding spheres of influence of major rivals, bolstering defense aid to Ukraine to ward off Russian aggression and promoting Hong Kong’s autonomy from China through a sweeping executive order.

And though President Trump has de-escalated United States’ military intervention abroad, he has increased the nation’s assertiveness in economic issues, pursuing an “America First” trade policy. This includes replacing the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Canada, and Mexico with the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement(USMCA) in 2018, describing the deal as “[delivering] more jobs and better labor protections that benefit American workers, while fostering more growth for American businesses.” Trump has also boldly utilized tariffs to push for long-term changes in America’s relationships with other powerhouse economies including China, the European Union and more.

Overall, President Trump’s foreign policy is reflective of a level of populism alien to Washington. He has radically reduced the role of American military intervention abroad and made major strides on his campaign promises, while, at the same time, taking strong measures to ensure the United States still negotiates from a place of strength, being uncompromising on American interests and expanding deterrence strategies.

Donald Trump has, in effect, cemented America’s standing as the world’s leading superpower.

Nathan Biller is a first-year student at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. An avid reader of history and mythology, Nathan is a prospective history and political science major. During his spare time, he enjoys piloting airplanes, regular exercise, and corrupting the youth with his literature. He is also a knight of the Principality of Sealand, as such you may address him as “Sir.”

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.


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About Nathan Biller

Nathan Biller is a first-year student at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. An avid reader of history and mythology, Nathan is a prospective history and political science major. During his spare time, he enjoys piloting airplanes, regular exercise, and corrupting the youth with his literature. He is also a knight of the Principality of Sealand, as such you may address him as “Sir.”

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