Trump’s Foreign Policy Analysis

Prior to American president Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin’s first official meeting, two opposing narratives were advanced by the media on the consequences of such a meeting. Trump’s opponents were ready to read body language and parse statements for any hint of the Trump and Russian collusion that has consumed the media coverage of the Trump administration so far. Supporters of the President were cracking their knuckles in anticipation for Trump to dust up Putin and show off the tough negotiating skills he emphasized during his Presidential campaign. In his article for The Guardian, Jonathan Freedland argues that regardless of what narrative people construct out of Putin and Trump’s first meeting, the Russian investigation has put Trump in an untenable position weakening American standing in the world with every passing day.

First, Freedland argues that Trump’s handling of the Russia scandal has painted him so perfectly into a corner that any action he takes looks like an admission of guilt. Outright opposition or posturing against Putin would cause “even fairly neutral observers (to wonder) if it was staged for effect” given Trump’s deference to the Russian agenda on multiple occasions. Overtly friendly interactions – such as when Trump called it an “honor” to meet with the Russian president – imply weakness automatically given Trump’s criticism of Obama for “softness”.

Regardless of what Trump does in the present, or going forward to ease or increase tension, Freedland argues the prime beneficiaries are Russia and Vladimir Putin. If the G20 meeting with Trump had resulted in concessions made to Russian interests, Russia would look strong in comparison to American weakness. If Trump offered nothing, as Freedland argues: “Putin’s loyal media back home would brand the US president a prisoner of domestic opposition and “Russophobia”- unable to act on his more pro-Moscow instincts”, and Putin would come out looking no worse than before.

Freedland remarks that an important point which is often lost in the wider election interference narrative is that putting Donald Trump in power was a secondary Russian objective to the far more attainable goal of destabilizing its historic rival. With Trump isolating himself internationally by rejecting the Paris climate agreement, generating constant domestic scandals through Twitter fights, and estranging himself from his allies by early on calling NATO obsolete and then pivoting to support it much later, Freedland argues that the decline of American soft power under president Trump is all but inevitable.

Jonathan Freedland concludes his article by arguing that the basis for a modern country’s foreign policy is rooted in its domestic policy. Domestically, Donald Trump’s behavior and personnel choices have afforded him no foundation upon which to ground a cohesive foreign policy plan. A lack of forward progress on any issues can be seen as a regression, and across the board Trump finds himself stonewalled by himself, or the realities of governing in the 21st century. Whatever the end results of the Trump administration will be, Vladimir Putin has certainly positioned Russia to be a prime benefactor of the United States’ world stage regression.

Freedland, Jonathan. “No Wonder Trump Is Putin’s Favourite: He’s Making America Weak Again.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 07 July 2017. Web. 10 July 2017.


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