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Trump’s approach is hurting U.S. foreign policy

Trump’s approach is hurting U.S. foreign policy

President Donald Trump and his administration’s lack of a consistent and coherent foreign policy is confusing U.S. allies and ceding ground to countries that do not share America’s interests, a group of foreign policy experts said at a debate on Monday evening.
But for all the criticism of the president’s approach, some of the panelists at the event in Dallas, “The Future of America’s Global Role,” argued that there might be a silver lining in letting the world know that the U.S. would not do everything.
“I think the global perception has gone from the U.S. being a reliable partner, and someone that many countries would aspire to emulate in some ways, to someone who is an unreliable partner,” said Loren DeJonge Schulman, deputy director of studies at the Center for a New American Security in Washington. “That is not necessarily a bad thing. … It is good, in some ways, for people to think that United States is not going to solve every problem for us constantly.”
Schulman, who served in President Barack Obama’s administration, stressed that if the U.S. continued to be insular, China and Russia would rush to fill in the gaps of global leadership in economic power and political systems.
While he ran on a largely “America first” platform, Trump, like his predecessors, has been forced to respond to foreign crises and problems as they’ve cropped up. Moreover, after applying a pressure campaign against North Korea, Trump will join its leader, Kim Jong Un, in Singapore next month to talk about the possible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But it is Trump’s mercurial nature that has frustrated foreign leaders and allies around the globe.
The debate, the fourth in series of discussions focused on America’s role in the world, was held at the George W. Bush Presidential Center and was convened by the Brooking Institution’s Foreign Policy program and the Charles Koch Institute, in partnership with POLITICO. The discussion was moderated by Gregory Hellman, a POLITICO reporter.
Anna Simmons, professor of defense analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, cautioned against a belief that America should force its values on other countries.
“This business of us going around the world foisting our conception of how other people live on them is only causing us more problems rather than helping us solve anything,” Simmons said.
One area the Trump administration is grappling with is whether the president’s decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and to recognize the holy city as Israel’s capital will make peace in the Middle East unachievable. Schulman argued that the administration’s inconsistent approach in the region had left the U.S. looking like an “idiot.”
Ted Piccone, a senior fellow at Brookings, said that, domestically, attacks on the media, judges and other core institutions of U.S. democracy had “damaged” America’s reputation in the world.
“If we want to have allies on the team … we’re making it much harder for them to join us,” he said.
Amid all the uncertainty, one possible benefit is that Americans can begin to get used to a world in which the U.S. is declining in power and other nations begin to rise up, said John Schuessler, an associate professor in the Department of International Affairs at Texas A&M.
“I don’t see as a choice where we have a question on who we’re going to hand off the reins to,” Schuessler said.