TRUMP’S FOREIGN POLICY DOCTRINE — “REJECTION & WITHDRAWAL.”

    

 

Trump’s withdrawal from a range of international agreements and institutions (Trans-Pacific Partnership, Paris Climate Accord, Iran nuclear deal, UNESCO, UN Human Rights Council, Open Skies Treaty) from the very outset of his term can now be loosely labeled a foreign policy doctrine. I would call this Trump doctrine “Rejection and Withdrawal.”

Trump has established a pattern of rejection and withdrawal from a broad range of international agreements and institutions—from trade agreements to nuclear arrangements and now the World Health Organization. His actions constitute rejection and withdrawal from the rules-based international legal and political order that evolved in the post-1945 world.

These actions or threatened actions (especially against the Word Trade Organization and from NAFTA) are consistent with his “America First” slogan, which signaled American isolationism in the 1930’s has, in fact, made the United States less safe in this decade. It has placed the United States behind other nations trying to confront global issues collectively.


An absence of international cooperation leads only to counter-productive unilateral actions such as tariffs, boycotts, export controls, trade sanctions, foreign investment controls). This has been made abundantly clear most recently. Note Trump’s glaring failure to cooperate during this global pandemic where he has fallen back on blame and name calling to an extreme, especially in regard to China.

Needless to say, this is now part of Trump’s reelection strategy. We need global cooperation to meet global problems. There is no way around this.

Clearly, many world leaders learned this lesson from the 1930’s, when the world was far less interconnected. But I guess Trump missed that lesson in school as well as in life.

 

About Stuart Malawer

Distinguished Service Professor of Law & International Trade at George Mason University (School of Public Policy).
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