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Sun Oct 18, 2020, 03:26 AM

The Foreign Policy That Leaves America Last

Source: New York Times

Headline on NYT home page: The Foreign Policy That Leaves America Last

THE FOREIGN POLICY THAT WASN’T

This article is part of a special Sunday Review: End Our National Crisis.

By Serge Schmemann
Mr. Schmemann is a member of the editorial board.

This month, with no warning to the Pentagon, President Trump’s national security adviser abruptly announced that the United States would reduce its troops in Afghanistan to 2,500 by early next year, rather than 4,500 as previously decided. Hours later, the president tweeted that no, he wanted them all back by Christmas. Caught by surprise, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, declared that he would proceed based on conditions and existing plans, and the Department of Defense noted — again — that it does not respond to commands over Twitter.

It was a shockingly irresponsible exercise of executive power, especially as military officials have consistently warned that a quick withdrawal would put frontline soldiers’ lives at risk and undermine the peace deal being discussed with the Taliban. But after nearly four years, Washington and the world have learned to their dismay that this is the way Donald Trump does business.

To his supporters, his diplomatic incompetence must be a source of frustration — Why aren’t the troops home? Where’s the wall? Yet his critics take no solace in his vandalism of alliances built up at the cost of many lives and the expenditure of much hard-earned treasure over the course of many generations.

“From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first,” Mr. Trump warned in his Inaugural Address. Today, what that meant is clear in the decline of American leadership and the hallowed American brand, in the wariness of allies and the glee of strongmen.

Abandoned multilateral commitments litter the halls of Washington, often for no reason other than that they were produced by previous presidents or somehow irked Mr. Trump — the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris climate accord, the Iran nuclear deal, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the Open Skies Treaty, the World Health Organization, UNESCO.

The successes he touts — whether pulling American troops out of the Middle East, a trade war with China, ripping up the Iran nuclear deal, or going after Venezuela and Cuba — are dubious at best and illusory at worst. ...

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Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/16/opinion/trump-foreign-policy-errors.html

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