STATUS OF SEVERAL OF TRUMP’S MAIN FOREIGN POLICY INITIATIVES
1. NAFTA REVISED TO THE USMCA—accomplished with bipartisan support, without Speaker Pelosi it would not have passed. Was NAFTA completely revised? No, it didn’t need to be, but it did need to be updated. Its main goal was to integrate Mexico into the highly developed world of the U.S. and Canada. It did that. Mexico went from an underdeveloped nation to one of the top twenty in the world, currently ranking 15th and that is the main reason why few illegals come from there to the U.S. Here’s a reasonable analysis of NAFTA’s pros and cons: https://www.thebalance.com/nafta-pros-and-cons-3970481
Another analysis comes from: https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/nafta-and-usmca-weighing-impact-north-american-trade.
And, finally, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/29/business/economy/usmca-deal.html
Trump can claim ½ credit for USMCA and Pelosi the other ½.
2. ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS—accurate figures are not easy to come by since most who are illegal don’t want to be known, still try this: https://www.brookings.edu/policy2020/votervital/how-many-undocumented-immigrants-are-in-the-united-states-and-who-are-they/
It is important to note a main source of illegals since 2010 has not been from those coming into the U.S. illegally, it has been those who have overstayed their visa requirements. Suzanne, my wife and I, know how this works. Trump’s wall and its supporters either are unaware of this or choose to ignore it. I’m not going to touch the issues related to the wall except to say there was no serious security threat that required it. It is significant that when the GOP controlled both Houses of Congress they did not fund it.
For Trump’s promises and the realities they face try this: https://www.brookings.edu/research/hitting-the-wall-on-immigration-campaign-promises-clash-with-policy-realities/ Most of the land on the TX side of the border is privately owned and Texans are very loath to accept eminent domain. https://www.revealnews.org/article/this-land-is-our-land-many-property-owners-wont-sell-for-trumps-wall/
Trump has had a small part of his wall built. On the other hand, he has made it much more difficult for asylum seekers to get here.
3. NORTH KOREA—While Trump’s efforts gained much publicity, little of substance has transpired as a result: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/11/north-korea-decries-stunted-us-ties-after-historic-summit. It appears his efforts granted legitimacy to the North Korean dictator with nothing to gain from it except photo ops. It has not stopped North Korea from testing its weapons. It does not appear that Trump’s objectives for North Korea have been met.
4. CHINA—Again, a great deal of publicity but not that much of substance has been accomplished. The Chinese Communist Party was formed with a goal of never again agreeing to “unequal” treaties and Trump’s efforts appear to have convinced China that that is what he has in mind.
America First clashes with Chinese First. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-45899310. Some progress was made: https://www.china-briefing.com/news/the-us-china-trade-war-a-timeline/. But: https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/19/economy/us-china-trade-war-resume-coronavirus-intl-hnk/index.html
Another look: https://www.ft.com/content/6124beb8-5724-11ea-abe5-8e03987b7b20
Trump has shifted to re-election mode and believes it is advantageous to attack China’s reputation. That is not going over well in China. He seems to believe the U.S. alone can bring China to heel, but that won’t happen. Again, he has little international support for his efforts. The first phase deal is but a start, yet it is a start.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative is breathtaking in its reach, and its implications. Suzanne and I have been on the Old Silk Road and witnessed some of the implications of this vast new initiative. https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/chinas-massive-belt-and-road-initiative
5. TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership)—The TPP was designed originally in large part to deal effectively with China, but Trump withdrew from it arguably because it was negotiated by Obama and not whether or not it was a good idea. https://asiasociety.org/video/tpp-current-state-trans-pacific-partnership. By withdrawing, now Americans must pay TPP tariffs. That has been mitigated some by a new trade deal between Japan and the U.S. The TPP is working well for those in it. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF11120#:~:text=On%20October%207%2C%202019%2C%20after,expansions%20to%20improve%20market%20access.
Trump’s withdrawal has not aided American interests.
6. The E.U.—For all the emphasis on China, this is the main economic relationship for the U.S. See: https://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/countries/united-states/
The E.U. offered to work with the U.S. to deal with China but were rejected by Trump. So, the E.U. negotiated its own strategic deal with China: http://eeas.europa.eu/archives/docs/china/docs/eu-china_2020_strategic_agenda_en.pdf
The E.U. also offered to work with the U.S. to improve the Iran deal, but Trump also rejected that offer and despite the serious efforts of Macron and Merkel, Trump withdrew from the Iran deal.
Trump’s relations with the E.U. has not been helped by his praise for Hungary’s dictator Orban: https://balkaninsight.com/2019/08/05/why-trumps-role-model-is-hungarys-viktor-orban/
This fits with a pattern of Trump’s praise for dictators such as for China’s Xi, Russia’s Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jung-un, the Philippines Duterte, Egypt’s el Sissi, Turkey’s Erdogan (a phone call with Erdogan led to a precipitous withdrawal of US troops that stood between Turkish and Kurdish forces leading to a bloodletting on the Kurdish side); and the long dead Mussolini—see Madeline Albright’s book Fascism. Trump has been publicly proud of their praise of him. By the same token, he has been known for criticizing democratically elected leaders such as Macron, Merkel, Trudeau, and others. According to Carl Bernstein’s sources, he has been especially obnoxious personally to former PM May and Chancellor Merkel.
His relations with the EU have not improved.
7. WITHDRAWING FROM THE IRAN DEAL: This simply has not worked out as Trump had imagined it would. He has had no support from any of the other signatories of this deal for his withdrawal and its consequences. https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/what-status-iran-nuclear-agreement
Trump complained the deal did not include provisions to halt Iran’s development of ICBMs, but neither Russia nor China were supportive of such provisions. Russia had already sold its state-of- the-art antimissile system to Iran and China is Iran’s main weapons supplier. He also complained the deal did not touch Iran’s penchant for proxy wars. True, but the signatories could not agree on doing that.
Why not? Iran’s support for Assad’s regime suited Russia’s efforts to keep him in power. In actuality, Iran’s commitment to proxy wars has increased since U.S. withdrawal from the deal. Pompeo’s 12 demands of Iran are perceived by Iran to mean forced regime change and that just isn’t going to happen. Even if it did, the U.S. might eliminate the mullahs, but the power would then go to the Iranian Rev Guards and all would suffer from that. Iran’s domestic critics are not united and lack a common agenda.
At any rate, Iran has a host of internal problems that existed before Trump and have only gotten worse. Iran was not a good candidate for investments and trade. Iran is not an existential threat to the U.S. or Israel. The main threat if Iran becoming a nuclear power has always been that the main Sunni states would then feel they needed to do the same. Recently, the UAE announced the creation of their own nuclear reactor.
Having unilaterally withdrawn from the Deal; and applying severe sanctions on Iran have not achieved Trump’s objectives and don’t seem to be likely to in the future.
8. OVERTHROWING THE MADURO REGIME. No doubt about it, the Maduro dictatorship is wretched, but Trump’s efforts have not been nor are they likely to be successful. Why not? Support for the regime by Russia, China, Iran and Cuba. Trump’s recognition of Juan Guaido as the actual President of Venezuela have not been successful. Juan has been unable to gain the internal support of enough potent interest groups to carry out his potential presidency. Nor, is he likely to do that. The good news is that Trump has wisely avoided military intervention.
9. NATO—Trump has consistently complained about the relative lack of European countries as members of NATO. He has a point there, but they agreed already in 2014 for all to meet the 2% of GNP spending each should supply by 2024 as a result of Putin’s acquisition of the Crimea. He tried to get them to increase their giving but got in return only a recommitment to their existing agreement. Further, see: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2019-03-20/nato-thriving-spite-trump.
Recently, he, unilaterally without consulting NATO, began the process of withdrawing 9,500 troops from Germany. This naturally reinforces doubts about his commitment to NATO. And, there are good reasons for those doubts: https://qz.com/1585911/does-the-us-need-nato/
This fits a pattern of Trump just not liking international treaties and organizations that the U.S. has been the main party within them. He appears to want only bilateral agreements where possible. That would undermine the post WWII world the U.S. created. He has withdrawn from a significant number of international agreements already. He has significantly frayed our relations with NATO. But, we are still in it.
Overall, there is a mixture of plusses and minuses in his initiatives.