Less than two weeks before the 2020 presidential election, with foreign policy at the center of the final Trump / Biden debate on Thursday, the commander-in-chief is expected to highlight long-standing promises and achievements during his first term.
“Trump’s list of foreign policy promises is long and solid. He has made incredible progress in securing the border and fighting the scourges of trafficking and human trafficking. He was the first president in our life to stand up to China and its misdeeds. influence, ”James Carafano, vice president of national security and foreign policy at the Heritage Foundation, told Fox News. “It made NATO stronger – a sentiment echoed by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg – and improved burden sharing between alliances. He was incredibly consistent and did what he said he would do. America is better at it. “
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Trump in particular touted the territorial triumph over Daesh, which once controlled vast swathes of land in Iraq and Syria, giving military leaders greater freedom to downplay the group in its “caliphate” capitals of Raqqa and Mosul.
As pockets of insurgency remain in the Middle East and ISIS continues to launch deadly attacks, its ability to seize and detain large tracts of land has largely dissipated. And, after more than five years of hunting down his shadowy leader Abu al-Baghdadi, US forces trapped him in Syria last October and he committed suicide.
Before taking office, Trump vowed to pull the United States out of the “worst deal ever” – the Obama administration’s deal on Iran – and back a “maximum pressure” campaign. He raised the bar this year by ordering the assassination of the country’s commander-in-chief and chief spies, Qassem Soleimani, in January.
“He kept his promise to withdraw the United States from the terrible Iranian nuclear deal and replaced it with a campaign of maximum pressure that brought the mullahs to their knees and severely limited their ability to finance terrorism in the region,” Carafano added. “And he’s the first president in decades not to start new wars, not just in the Middle East, but around the world. “
Additionally, Trump has controversially sought to unfreeze decades of frozen diplomatic talks regarding Israel and the Palestinians by moving the U.S. Embassy in 2018 from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Years later, the president and his team further strengthened their Israeli policies by urging other Muslim-majority nations to “normalize relations.”
Last month, Israel and the United Arab Emirates signed the historic Abraham Accord, and Bahrain also strengthened its relations with Israel.
“President Trump’s greatest foreign policy achievement has been to reshape and reinvent the path to peace in the Middle East. The Abrahamic Agreements will provide a new opportunity for economic, security and technological collaboration between Israel and its Arab neighbors, ”Foreign Desk chief counterterrorism expert and editor Lisa Daftari said. When it comes to bringing peace to the Middle East, for decades past administrations and experts got stuck in a discourse that ruled out any future without peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This peace agreement has dispelled this myth and will have tremendous results for the region as a whole. ”
Harley Lippin, CEO of tech company Genesis10 and one of the early orchestrators of the Abraham Accord, surmised that Iran’s tough approach is working.
“Iran continued to provoke the United States by hijacking tankers, shooting down a drone, and then attacking the Saudi facilities in Aramco,” he said. “Trump only reacted militarily after the attack on the US embassy in Iran. “
Trump also continued his rhetoric of pulling the United States out of the “war forever” of Afghanistan, by reducing the troop footprint and insisting that all U.S. servicemen be returned home within months.
Much of Trump’s “America First” policy was also based on the repatriation of US citizens who have been illegally detained abroad. To date, more than 50 hostages in more than 22 countries have returned.
Last week Iran-backed Houthi rebels in war-torn Yemen freed two Americans, which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hailed as part of the administration’s pledge to “bring all back. Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad at home ”.
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In China, the White House has pushed back on alleged human rights violations against the Uyghur community, exposed intellectual property theft and strengthened ties with Taiwan.
During his 2016 campaign, Trump claimed to probe and withdraw financial commitments to international bodies not aligned with US interests.
Trump doubled down by pulling the United States out of a host of United Nations agencies and institutions, such as the World Health Organization and the Human Rights Council.
“Trump has also made securing the border a priority and kept his promises to improve the picture of illegal immigration, while coordinating closely with Mexico and other Central American countries. Relations between the United States and Mexico, Central America and Brazil are all much better than under the Obama administration, ”Carafano conjectured.
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“Trump’s diplomatic achievements and his investment in rebuilding the US military will have lasting implications,” Carafano said.
And finally – in his own words – Trump “rebuilt an army that was largely depleted after the Obama administration’s sequestration policy and that is largely why the allies trust us more than under Obama.”
But with the 2020 race set to be near and Trump behind Biden, the president and his supporters are looking for last-minute victories to show their dedication not only to America First, but to global leadership as well.
Notably, the Trump team is working to allay concerns about potential nuclear fallout with Russia. In August 2019, Trump rejected the Soviet-signed Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, or INF Treaty, citing years of flagrant violations by Moscow. Some hailed it as a foreign policy victory and others criticized that there was nothing moving to replace it.
However, Washington has also made significant progress in recent days in shutting down nuclear warheads for at least a year and extended the 2010 “New START” treaty to ensure that arms control remains in place beyond its expiration date. expires on February 5. After rejecting Moscow’s terms on Friday, Russian President Putin’s delegation agreed this week that the two sides should prevent stockpiling.
But as the White House sheds light on its foreign victories, Democrats shine a light on what they call the failures and dangerous consequences of “America First.”
A searing 80-page report released Wednesday by Sen. Bob Menendez, DN.J., the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who accused Trump of diplomatic abuse to advance his own agenda.
“The clearest example of President Trump’s use of US foreign policy for his own gain was his withholding US security assistance to Ukraine unless the country launches an investigation into it. ‘Former Vice President Biden, “reads the report titled” The Cost of Trump’s Foreign Policy: Damage and Consequences to the United States and Global Security. ” ”
It further indicates that a Biden victory would result in an administration focused on rebuilding relations with fractured allies, promoting better human rights nationally and internationally, as well as the Department’s investment and support. State and diplomatic missions.
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According to Rich Higgins, former director of strategic planning at the National Security Council, the record of Trump’s first term is particularly thick.
“President Trump has succeeded in asserting a more realistic type of foreign policy,” Higgins added. “There have been no new wars, ISIS has been drastically reduced and its territory eliminated, then there is the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem, new terms in our relations with Islamic countries, and we have started to tackle China’s abuse of international intellectual standards. ownership and handling of currency. But I would still like to see more attention devoted to our own hemisphere. ”