Wall Street Journal on March 7, 2016 reported on Republican front-runner Donald Trump sketching out a foreign policy that would mark a sharp change in the way the U.S. approaches global hot spots, mollifying tensions with some leaders and widening fissures with others.
Trump wants for instance to impose steep tariffs on China…Excerpts below:
The basic tendencies in Mr. Trump’s foreign policy are these: confrontations with China and Mexico, particularly over trade and immigration, but cooperation with Russia.
“Trump is a throwback to an earlier isolationist age,” said Thomas Wright, director of the Brookings Institution’s Project on International Order and Strategy. “He has a consistent worldview dating back 30 years. He would destroy America’s alliances, close the global economy, and give free license to authoritarian leaders.”
But Mr. Trump’s posture of strength and straight talk appears to be serving him well. His supporters often say they believe he would stand up for America against other countries, and they applaud his assertion that American leaders have for too long allowed the country to be played for a fool by others.
The next president will inherit a plethora of global challenges, including Russian aggression in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, the emergence of Iran as a regional power, unstable regimes in Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, and Islamic State’s large footprint. The U.S. is also grappling with China’s economic struggles and military expansion.
Some Republicans, including presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, have embraced a hawkish approach to these threats, while Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas advocates using force relatively narrowly—a split that loosely reflects the divide within the GOP and the conservative movement.
Mr. Trump’s proposals don’t fit neatly into either category. He has appointed just one person to his national security advisory committee—Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.). And there are gaps in his positions; he hasn’t detailed plans for dealing with the weak governments of Iraq and Afghanistan, for example.
In many areas, Mr. Trump promises a new toughness, even when it comes to allies. He has said he would demand that Germany, South Korea, Japan, and Saudi Arabia increase payments to the U.S. for military protection.
He has also promised to lead a confrontation with China and Mexico, countries he accuses of fleecing the U.S. by improperly luring manufacturing jobs to distort trade. He vows to build a 1,000-mile wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, to be financed by Mexico’s government, an idea angrily rejected by Mexican leaders.
Mr. Trump would formally label the Chinese government a “currency manipulator” and he has threatened to impose tariffs on its exports. Many economists believe China puts downward pressure on the value of its currency to give it a trade advantage and spur exports.
In contrast, Mr. Trump would look to improve relations with some countries, notably Russia. The U.S. and Russia are at odds in multiple conflicts, including over the fighting in Syria, where Russia has helped prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Mr. Trump has traded compliments with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a leader most American leaders don’t trust, saying Mr. Putin could help resolve the war in Syria.
Former diplomats and national security experts said they are still waiting for Mr. Trump to outline a unified strategy. Many say the incomplete proposals he offers in his stump speeches don’t make a comprehensive approach.
“I would feel better had he gone out and made a foreign policy speech where he explained these statements he’s made,” said Steven Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
Comment: Most foreign policy commentators would probably agree that the United States needs a forward policy confronting the rise of China as a future hegemon. The question of Russia has become more complicated since Democratic foreign policy strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski in his Strategic Vision – America and the Crisis of Global Power (2012) suggested including Russia and Turkey in a larger Western framework of cooperation if it could be based on shared values and a genuine democratic commitment. Brzezinski admitted that this would take time, perseverance and coolheaded realism. Both Russia and Turkey have since 2012 moved away from the West and Russia today is an outright challenger to Western civilization