Trump's foreign policy report card

President Donald Trump seated surrounded by foreign leaders including Germany's Angela Merkel, Japan's Shinzo Abe and France's Emmanuel Macron

Back in 2016, presidential candidate Donald Trump presented his vision for an "America First" foreign policy, which symbolized a radical departure from the US' longtime approach to international politics and diplomacy.

In electing Donald Trump, a political outsider, to the top job, American voters essentially gave him a mandate to follow through on these promises. So, has he?

Trade

"A continuing rape of our country."

On the 2016 campaign trail, candidate Trump said that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a 12 country trade deal pushed by the Obama administration — would "rape" America's economy by imperiling the manufacturing sector, closing factories, and taking more jobs overseas.


While President Trump swiftly delivered on his promise to quit the TPP, it's clear that Trump's signature move has not had its desired effect.

Trump's protectionist policies — including an ongoing trade war with China — have in fact caused manufacturing factories to shutter in many US cities, resulting in the loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs. In the crucial swing state of Michigan, for example, there were 10,200 fewer manufacturing workers in February 2020 than the previous year. Nearly 1,800 factories — many in important swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin — were forced to shut their doors between 2016 to 2018 as automation ramped up.

To be sure, the pandemic-induced recession has pummeled America's economy across the board, but a recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics concludes that even before the health crisis, US manufacturing was on track to lose nearly 450,000 jobs by 2029, the most of any sector.

Meanwhile, the US trade deficit, an indicator Donald Trump repeatedly cited in the lead-up to the 2016 election to justify provoking China, has ballooned under his watch: in August of this year, the US' overall trade deficit was $67.1 billion, the highest on record since 2006. In addition, US exports to China continue to fall behind the benchmark set under the "phase one" trade deal signed by Beijing and Washington earlier this year.

Foreign conflicts and troop withdrawals

"I will never send our finest into battle unless necessary...The world must know that we do not go abroad in search of enemies."

When candidate Trump announced his bid for the White House, withdrawing troops from conflicts in far-flung places around the world — particularly in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan — quickly emerged as a key campaign promise. And polling shows that this pledge resonated deeply with a war-weary American public.

Has Trump delivered? Somewhat. In 2017, he sent an additional 3,000 troops to war-torn Afghanistan. Today, there are still 8,600 American soldiers there, though President Trump recently tweeted that he hopes to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by Christmas, a pre-election forecast that reportedly delighted the Taliban and caught the Pentagon completely off-guard.

In Syria and Iraq, meanwhile, President Trump followed through on his campaign promise to "beat ISIS" by continuing the Obama administration's military campaign against the militant group. This was followed by the hasty withdrawal of around 700 US troops from northern Syria in 2019, which many observers said would endanger America's Kurdish allies, causing the US Defense Secretary to resign in protest.

Treaties

"[I will] dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran."

From the outset, candidate Trump made clear that the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal would have a short shelf life under his administration, calling it "the worst deal ever negotiated." And in 2018, President Trump followed through by walking away from the accord that was negotiated with American allies including France and Germany, and slapping fresh sanctions on Iran. On the face of it, it was a promise kept.

Similarly, having long referred to climate change as a "hoax," candidate Trump vowed to walk away from the Paris Climate Accords, signed by 200 countries, which he said would stifle American economic growth. Again, President Trump made good on a longtime pledge — but the official exit only occurs on November 4, a day after the US election, and Joe Biden has vowed to rejoin should he win.

Love him or hate him, when it comes to foreign policy Donald Trump is a... politician. While he has failed to deliver on some campaign promises, in many instances, President Trump has done exactly what American voters sent him to Washington to do.

Iran was involved in two naval incidents in the Gulf of Oman in recent days. The US, UK, and Israel have blamed Iran for a drone attack that killed two European nationals. Iran has rejected the accusations. Iran is also suspected in the "potential hijack" of a tanker off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

These provocations are happening just as Iran inaugurates a new president, Ebrahim Raisi, and as talks continue over the possible US re-entry into the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. What's the connection between these events? We asked Henry Rome, Eurasia Group's deputy head of research and a director covering global macro politics and the Middle East.

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Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for Eurasia Group, shares updates on recent COVID-19 policy developments:

The Biden administration extended an eviction moratorium even after the Supreme Court said they couldn't, what's next?

Well, the CDC imposed a nationwide eviction moratorium in light of increased risk from evicted people because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Supreme Court in June ruled that they (CDC) overextended their authority in doing so and mandated that the moratorium expire on schedule in July. A group of progressive activists weren't happy about this and raised a huge stink in Congress, but Congress recessed for their August vacation before they could solve the problem, putting big pressure on President Biden to extend the moratorium even though he said he didn't think that it would pass constitutional muster. The CDC did it anyway, extending the moratorium until October 3rd, which is a time that's short enough to probably avoid it being overturned by lawsuits, but long enough that Congress has time to figure out how to either extend it on a bipartisan basis or put more money into a rental assistance fund that few people have taken advantage of so far. This whole incident shows the power of progressive activists in the Biden administration who were able to elevate the profile of this issue and potentially prevent millions of people from losing their homes this summer.

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We expect the usual suspects — US, China, Russia — to dominate the Olympic medal tally. But how should the performances of large, well-resourced countries really be assessed? Drawing on a model first developed by a team of labor economists, the Financial Times looks at a range of factors — including past medal hauls, population size, and GDP per capita — to determine whether nations have surpassed or failed to meet expectations at the Tokyo Games. We take a look at the biggest under-performers and over-performers per the model, and whether people in these countries really care about the Olympics at all.

This week, the market value of Tencent, China's biggest video game company, nosedived after a state media outlet suggested that online gaming was as addictive and destructive as opium. Tencent immediately pledged to cap the number of hours people can play, and to keep minors off its platforms.

It's the latest example of a months-long crackdown on major Chinese technology firms that until recently were viewed as some of the world's most powerful and successful companies, as well as a source of national pride. Beijing's about-face on its own tech titans could have big implications for China, and beyond.

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Whenever Burkina Faso is in the news, it's often about how the crisis-ridden country has got caught up in the crosshairs of horrific jihadist violence plaguing the Sahel.

But this week, the nation of 20 million was celebrating because Hugues Fabrice Zango won its first-ever Olympic medal after finishing third in the men's triple jump in Tokyo.

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Should people get COVID vaccine booster shots? Not yet, says the World Health Organization, which is pushing for rich nations or those with access to jabs to hold off until at least the end of September so all countries get to fully vaccinate at least 10 percent of their populations before some jump ahead with boosters. But the WHO's call has fallen on deaf ears in nations like Israel, France, Germany and Russia, which are already planning to offer boosters, in part to better protect people against the more contagious delta variant. What's more, mRNA vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna are recommending supplemental doses for the same reason. The problem is that, beyond the obvious moral imperative for equal access to vaccines, if the rich continue hoarding jabs while vaccination rates stay low elsewhere, the virus will continue to thrive — and mutate into new, potentially even more infectious variants that sooner or later will reach every corner of the planet.

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80: If polar ice caps continue to melt at their current pace due to climate change, 80 percent of all emperor penguins will be wiped out by the end of the century because they need the ice for breeding and keeping their offspring safe. American authorities want to list emperor penguins, which only live in Antarctica, as an endangered species so that US fishing vessels will be required to protect them when operating in their habitat.

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