Anam Sheikh |
American presidents operate under a system of checks and balances on the domestic front, but when it comes to foreign policy, they can unleash their personality on the diplomatic and military affairs of the country.
From the Truman doctrine to now the Trump doctrine, USA has seen a number of shifts in its foreign policy, but the cornerstone always remained the same -America first.
How does an ultra-nationalist like Trump view the World? Is the USA going to say goodbye to its liberal values? It is still too early to describe how a highly unpredictable man would craft his policies, albeit somehow the major underlying thoughts can be gleaned.
So far it appears that the Trump Doctrine is going to be the hard mix of recklessness and flexibility at the same time. It seems as though the liberal values will remain, except for the neo-liberal globalized economy whose bedrock is “free trade”. Trump’s saying “I believe strongly in free trade but it has to be fair trade,” shows the flexibility of the populist leader, who is not an unrealistic demagogue politician, but rather a crafty man who knows how to run things. Let’s break down how his administration will take on major issues facing it.
The “currency manipulator” is now a partner of America to keep North Korea within limits. The US is engaged in containing and deterring China by making alliances in Asia, yet it also needs China. This perfectly sums up Joseph S. Nye’s views on the interdependence between Beijing and Washington. Trump’s initial rogue rhetoric of “Two China policy” has now been quickly discarded. However, South China Sea will remain a hot issue between the two countries. According to Robert D. Kaplan the elegant aggression of Beijing in the South China Sea is four steps forward and two and a half steps back. In short, this relationship will be of interdependence and containment under the Trump administration.
The politics of Middle East is highly flammable. After the Saudi Arabia summit, it is clear that Trump wants an alliance with GCC countries and Israel for the long term strategic interests of USA and that to against Iran. The inking $350bn agreement with KSA to support Saudi camp in Yemen war shows that the battle lines are being drawn. Unlike Obama, who ordered Banks and MNCs to release funds for Iran after the deal, Trump has described this deal as “the worst deal ever negotiated”. Republicans are making every effort to reverse the tide away from Iran. It is crystal clear that the wave of sanctions will remain the ultimate tool for the Trump administration. In a nutshell, there is a tug of war in Middle East whether it is civil or sectarian and the USA is pulling the strings.
Growing bellicose attitude and incessant building up of a nuclear stockpile put the Pyongyang region on the brink of war. However, while Trump showed his willingness to talk to the young North Korean leader, but under the right circumstances and that is to abandon nuclear program. Nevertheless, one must keep this in mind that there is no direct or hotline contact between the two states. Pyongyang is in the state of isolation since years. Things can be miscalculated from both leaders and there is still a looming threat of nuclear war. Donald Trump is flexing his diplomatic and military muscles to deter North Korea of the drastic consequences.
Trump has a forbidden love with Russia, though the institutional pressure of ‘red fear’ is keeping him away from any relationship with the country.
He once termed Putin as the most “Respected man”. So far, it seems the complex bureaucratic system of America has definitely put a lid on his inclinations. However, the launch of the Massive Ordinance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb on alleged IS-K caves in Afghanistan and the missile attack on Syrian air base clearly show that America would not let Russia alter the balance of power in its favor.
Also, the growing axis of China Russia and Pakistan is a not in the long-term interest of the USA in the region including Central Asia. For this reason, Trump administration is considering troop surge based ‘long-term engagement’ in Afghanistan. The timing of the attack on IS-K sanctuaries is quite crucial. Moscow led talks on Afghanistan were in the initial phase without involving the USA. Clearly, USA showed this quite blatantly that the seemingly intractable war could not be won without her. Similarly, the recent military attack on Syrian airbase puts a dent on the relationship between two states. Though the two leaders have a single objective to uproot ISIS and to resolve the Syrian crisis and the recent telephonic conversation between them has shown signs of cooperation.
To sum up, The Trump doctrine is incalculable. Yet, despite his eccentricity and cognitive dissonance, he is going to be the remarkable president down in the history for better or worse.