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Trump's foreign policy successes and errors: end of multilateralism or a geopolitical revolution?

Donald Trump made it a priority, upon his arrival in the White House, to keep America first. The withdrawal of the Paris Agreement in its first six months was only the prelude to the departure of other international agreements. Trump has abandoned the nuclear agreement with Iran, the World Health Organization in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, UNESCO or the UN Human Rights Council and, at times, has contradicted his allies. At the same time, it has opted for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, has resorted to dialogue with North Korea and has managed to reestablish Israel's relations with countries of the Persian Gulf.

From Washington, the balance of its foreign policy reflects the polarization of the country. For the vice president of the Institute of National Security and Foreign Policy of the Heritage Foundation, James Carafano, "America is better than ever." But according to Georgetown University professor of International Relations and former Obama and Clinton adviser Charles Kupchan, Washington "has lost its place as a beacon of democracy."

Outside the United States, analysts agree: the president has taken the "reductionist, isolationist, and destabilizing" path.

The end of multilateralism?

Former advisers, chiefs of staff or diplomats have portrayed since 2017 a chaotic White House, led by a "dangerous president" who understands politics as business.

China or Iran, his greatest enemies, reflect the tone of the president. With China, the origin of the "Chinese virus", he started a trade war. With Iran, he adopted a punitive policy, based on sanctions against the regime of signatory countries of the nuclear agreement or the UN and set off alarms when he assassinated General Qasem Solameini.

His detractors link these modus operandi to isolationism, something on which analysts or the French president himself agree, who in 2018 sent a message to the US Congress: "The US invented multilateralism. It is you who have to preserve it and reinvent it. "

When Donald Trump decided to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the international community held its breath. The same was true of his controversial "plan for peace" in the Middle East, designed by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. But discrepancies aside, the truth is that Trump has not opted for the military route, unlike his predecessors.

Still, experts believe that Washington is losing its international leadership on the geopolitical board. " Many allies and leaders are trying to determine whether Trump should be treated as a unique and unrepeatable politician at an idiosyncratic moment in the history of US foreign policy or if it is the beginning of a transformation", says Professor Trubowitz.

Instead, his supporters see the alliances strengthened. "They have improved; we are better now. In the Middle East, Trump has initiated a transformation that will improve security and economic cooperation. He has also improved relations in Latin America and Europe, where, despite complaints [about pressures on military spending], NATO is intact. Critics in Europe attribute the tensions to the president only because he is an easy excuse when it comes to recognizing the problems between allies", says Carafano.

The challenges of the future

According to the European professors, the leaders will have to rethink their relationship with Washington if Trump revalidates his mandate. "Many leaders around the world will conclude that they won´t be able to count on the United States when it comes to issues such as institutional cooperation, trade liberalization and multilateralism. And so would its adversaries," says Trubowitz, who sees Trump "as a symptom, and not a cause, of the frustration among society for the country's international commitments".

Biden victory has changed the picture: "Although he will focus on national politics, he will have to quickly assure his allies that the US is still there. It would not change much immediately in practice, but it would change in the tone of leadership," notes Professor Scotto.

For the conservative think-tank, this is precisely one of the problems that a Democratic Presidency represents. After the elections, both the country and world won´t have many substantial changes. “Biden says he will change the tone and be more respectful, but if the tone could save all the problems, these they wouldn't exist, "says Carafano. - See other news click here




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