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THE ISSUE: International Relations and Foreign Policy
Since he took office, Donald Trump has:
- Unilaterally withdrawn the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-country Asia-focused trade agreement that the Obama administration had vigorously promoted.
- Issued executive orders that (a) banned nationals of numerous Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the United States, (b) froze refugee intake from Syria, (c) directed federal funds to the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and (d) barred “sanctuary” cities from receiving federal grants.
- At a meeting of NATO member leaders during his first trip abroad as president, withheld explicit U.S. support for NATO’s Article 5 mutual defense clause.
- After claiming for more than a year that NATO was obsolete, abruptly announced in an interview that NATO “is no longer obsolete.”
- Declared that the United States would withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate accord.
- Announced a reinstatement of restrictions on travel and trade that the Obama administration had relaxed as part of a rapprochement with Cuba.
- After engaging in bellicose threats with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un, turned about-face and met with Kim several times in an attempt to convince Kim to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear arms program; American intelligence agencies concluded that North Korea was not likely to give up its nuclear arsenal, and North Korea subsequently launched short-range missiles in violation of United Nations resolutions.
- Announced that the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would be phased out, leaving hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries at risk of deportation.
- Without obtaining any concessions in return, proclaimed that he would not recertify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to Congress (JCPOA).
- Broke with long-standing U.S. policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; he later moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, upsetting Arab and Western allies and bringing the U.S.’s position as an honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process into doubt.
- Pursued a trade war with China, levying tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods; China imposed tariffs on $110 billion worth of U.S. products in retaliation. Trump insisted in a tweet that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.”
- Before he was pressured to reverse it, instituted a blanket “zero tolerance” policy that would result in the U.S. Border Patrol separating more than 2,600 children from their parents; he also sent five thousand troops to “harden the southern border.”
- Announced U.S. withdrawal from the Human Rights Council.
- Conducted a two-hour meeting in Helsinki with Russia’s Vladimir Putin at which only interpreters were present, resulting in the concealment of most of the content of their discussion; at a press conference afterwards, he questioned U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia had meddled in the 2016 presidential election.
- Expressed strong support for Saudi Arabia and its leadership following the assassination of a dissident Saudi journalist.
- Declared that the U.S. would remove all of its more than two thousand troops from Syria, albeit without a timeline, and directed the Defense Department to devise a plan for withdrawing half of the American troops serving in Afghanistan; there was substantial bipartisan opposition in Congress, and Defense Secretary James Mattis offered his resignation.
- Caused a 35-day shutdown of the federal government (the longest ever) following his demand to Congress that $5.7 billion be allocated for a wall along the southern U.S. border.
- Following a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, abruptly declared that all remaining U.S. troops would be removed from Kurdish-controlled northern Syria; Turkish troops promptly invaded Syria to attack Kurdish groups, and he then responded with sanctions on Turkey.
- Together with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, announced a new middle east peace plan without any prior Palestinian input.
- Was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives on allegations that he pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate his political opponents.
- Has repeatedly received low international ratings for world leadership.