A correspondent informed me that he was apoplectic over the President being a “laughingstock” at the United Nations.
How to respond? I thought of suggesting that the laughter may have been the “nervous laughter” emanating from people who heard unvarnished, undiplomatic truth or from people who had been caught with their hand in the cookie jar. I thought of reminding him that, when President Obama failed to enforce his own “red line” against Syria, no country could ever take his word, that he had become a laughingstock to the nations. Instead, I decided to encourage my correspondent to leave the world of elite bias, of media bias, and instead reflect on the Trump Administration’s foreign policies. I created a list for him. I submit this list to you, too. In the words of our Declaration of Independence, “let Facts be submitted to a candid [that is, unbiased] world.”
The entries on this list are not in any order at all, including importance or chronology or geography. I provide no discussion. I have included some immigration issues although they arguably are more domestic issues than foreign policy ones.
I applaud the following:
- Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocating our embassy to that city
- Working to get better trade deals from China, Mexico and Canada.
- Working to protect our intellectual property vis-à-vis China.
- Imposing new sanctions on Russia (notwithstanding saying nice things about Putin).
- Bombing Syria for its use of chemical weapons on civilians.
- Selling arms to Ukraine.
- Making progress on North Korea, including obtaining the remains of some soldiers.
- Obtaining more money for defense, including a 355-ship Navy.
- Refusing to recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
- Rejecting the Iran deal and re-imposing sanctions.
- Withdrawing from Paris Climate Change deal.
12, 13, and 14. Appointing Mike Pompeo at State, Nikki Haley at the UN, and John Bolton as National Security Adviser.
- Withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council.
- Refusing to make apologies (contrast President Obama’s apology tours).
- The press conference by several agency heads on their agencies’ plans to thwart interference by foreign entities in American elections.
- Imposing new restrictions on Cuba.
- Requiring rigorous vetting of people seeking entry into the U.S. from select countries.
- Shaming Germany for creating dependence on Russia for energy.
- Shaming NATO allies for failure to keep their promises to spend 2% of their GDP on our mutual defense.
- Re-adopting President Reagan’s 1984 “Mexico City policy” and strengthening it.
- Selling military supplies to Taiwan.
- Acting in the South China Sea, implicitly rejecting Chinese aggression there (as recognized in the Philippines v. China case decided by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016).
- Attorney General Sessions’ declaration that gang violence and domestic abuse are not government actions rendering their victims “refugees.”
- Recognizing the clear truth that people from other countries want to come to the United States because it is exceptional and because their countries are s***holes, bereft of market economies, full of corruption and deprived of human rights.
- Expanding the wall on the Mexican border.
- Imposing sanctions on Venezuela.
Are there any Trump Administration foreign policies that I do not applaud? Yes.
- While there can be a time and place for shaming our allies publicly, I would make sure that these had the appearance of having been the subject of deliberations within the Administration and being deliberately made.
- I would have entered into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal because, among other things, it would have helped the United States vis-à-vis China.
- I would not reduce the State Department’s budget if it meant reducing the number of diplomats (while allowing for cuts in foreign aid disbursed by the State Department).
- I would vet, but not slow, the admission of translators, etc., from Iraq and Afghanistan who risked their lives and the lives of their families to help the United States.
- I would not deport illegal immigrants, unless they have committed a crime in addition to crossing or remaining illegally, who are immediate family members of men and women serving in the Armed Forces.
- I would vet refugees (of course), but not arbitrarily cap their number.