In two and a half years, Donald Trump and his national security team have managed to worsen virtually every aspect of American national security policy. Trump has bullied and harangued our traditional West European allies and, as a result, bilateral relations with Britain, France, and Germany have become more difficult. France, Germany, and even Japan have begun to rethink their security policies because of the uncertainty that surrounds dealing with the Trump administration. President Barack Obama left Trump a path for dealing with traditional foes in Cuba and Iran, but the president has made these issues far more problematic and, in the case of Tehran, raised the specter of confrontation.
The United States is the most powerful nation on earth. There is no nation nor even a group of nations that can match the combined political, economic, and military power of the United States. Nevertheless, the United States faces an international arena that has become increasingly resistant and opposed to U.S. initiatives. The blundering of Donald Trump and his mediocre national security team is largely responsible for the setbacks over the past two years. But U.S. exceptionalism and even political bipartisanship carry a heavy responsibility as well.
Many American presidents have blundered in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, but Donald Trump’s personal involvement in the region has been particularly disastrous. President Eisenhower introduced the CIA to the world of covert action, when he ordered the overthrow of the legitimate government of Iran in 1953. President Reagan endorsed a U.S. troop presence in Lebanon in 1982 in order to pull Israeli chestnuts out of the fire there due to their war crimes in Beirut, offering proof to the Arab nations of Washington’s one-sided support for Israel. President George H.W. Bush went ahead with Desert Storm in 1991 although Soviet President Gorbachev had gained a commitment from Saddam Hussein to withdraw his forces from Kuwait. Worst of all, President George W. Bush used phony intelligence to justify an invasion of Iraq in 2003 that has created sixteen years of disarray throughout the region.
Will It Survive John Bolton?
The Trump administration is looking askance at what may be a legitimate Russian effort to break the current disarmament deadlock between the United States and North Korea. According to The Washington Post, Russia made a secret proposal to North Korea last fall to advance negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.