What Critics Get Wrong About Team Trump’s Foreign Policy

Insights, analysis and must reads from CNN's Fareed Zakaria and the Global Public Square team, compiled by Global Briefing editor Jason Miks.

August 8, 2018

What Critics Get Wrong About Team Trump's Foreign Policy

The Trump administration may be turning its back on global treaties and institutions, but the idea that it's shunning the world is simply wrong, argues Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times. It might not be the kind of engagement that critics like, but it's far from isolationism.
President Trump's mistrust of Iran "informs a wider Middle East plan that takes in the cultivation of Saudi Arabia. He is the only US president to have met a North Korean head of state. He has struck Syria with air power to enforce his predecessor's red line. He has threatened violence against other enemies. He wants a larger military and a 'space force' as its sixth branch," Ganesh writes.
"The point is not that these are good foreign policies. The point is that these are foreign policies. When critics press international engagement on Mr Trump, they mean engagement of the kind that they — and I — favor. But it can take other forms. The US still participates in the world: less so than before in some respects (see the bean-counting pettiness about NATO), but more so in others (such as Afghanistan). The aggregate picture is too mixed to bear the name 'isolation.' 'Chauvinism' is more like it."

What Trump Should Offer Kim

There's understandable doubt over Kim Jong Un's commitment to denuclearizing. But his desire for international recognition isn't in question, writes Doug Bandow for The National Interest. If the Trump administration wants to improve North Korea's behavior, it should propose formally ending the war between the two countries.
"There is opposition to recognizing, at least to the extent of signing a treaty, such a brutally oppressive regime. However, peace on the Korean peninsula involves what the North is, not what we wish it to be. Washington had diplomatic relations with Nazi Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union, and a host of ruthless dictatorships. Richard Nixon flew to Beijing to meet with Mao Zedong, one of history's great mass killers. The DPRK also cannot be wished away," Bandow writes.

How to Give Putin a Scare

With 90 days to go until America's midterm elections, it's clear that the United States has yet to find a way to halt Russian efforts to interfere in November. But there's one thing that Vladimir Putin fears, writes Michael Morell in The Washington Post. It's time to make him think it could happen.
Putin "is afraid that one day the Russian middle class will finally rebel against his regime and rush into the streets demanding change. It happened in Tunis, Cairo and other Middle Eastern and North African cities between 2010 and 2012, and it happened most alarmingly, from Putin's perspective, four years ago in Kiev when Ukrainians threw out a government beholden to Moscow. Sanctions that bite at the heart of the Russian economy — sanctions that increase the risk that Russia's middle class will become restive — will get Putin's attention," writes Morell, a former deputy director of the CIA.
"What would such sanctions look like? A Senate bill introduced on Aug. 2, again with sponsors from both parties, is a good start: Prohibit any transaction related to Russian energy projects and bar the purchase of new Russian sovereign debt. Washington should encourage its allies to join in these efforts."

The Good and the Bad in Afghanistan

Nine months ago, the US ramped up its efforts to stymie Afghanistan's illegal drug trade, which "provides the Taliban with hundreds of millions of dollars," writes Dion Nissenbaum in The Wall Street Journal. It's not working.
"Over the last 17 years, the US has spent more than $8.6 billion dollars trying to combat the drug industry in Afghanistan. The US has tried to coax opium farmers to plant legal crops such as wheat and pomegranate. It has tried to punish farmers by burning or spraying the crops with pesticides. None of the efforts has had a significant effect, according to a recent report by the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction," Nissenbaum writes.
  • Still, Fareed noted in his Take from Sunday's show that the Trump administration's broader approach to the country – including an apparent acknowledgment that the Taliban need to be involved in negotiations – is on the right track.
Watch Fareed's full Take on what the Trump administration needs to do "to extricate America from its unending wars."

Germany's Dangerous Debate

Germany is increasingly mulling the once unthinkable – going nuclear, Matthew Karnitschnig noted last week. That would be a terrible idea, writes Wolfgang Ischinger for Project Syndicate.

"If Germany were now to break out of its non-nuclear power status, what would keep Turkey or Poland, for instance, from following suit? Germany as a gravedigger of the international non-proliferation regime – who could want that?" Ischinger writes.

"Second, a German nuclear bomb would damage the strategic environment in Europe – to Germany's disadvantage. Russia would interpret German steps toward a nuclear arsenal as a direct threat to its own national security and would likely adopt military countermeasures…Moreover, a German nuclear ambition might jeopardize the delicate balance of power in Europe – including between Germany and France, for example – with incalculable consequences for the long-term cohesion of the European Union."

In 2020, the World's Richest Place Will Be…

Macau is set to become the richest place in the world by 2020, dethroning Qatar as the country or territory with the highest GDP per capita, Niall Fraser writes for the South China Morning Post, citing new IMF data.
Macau, "which outstripped Las Vegas to become the world's richest casino destination several years ago…[is projected to] become the richest place in the world with a per capita GDP of US$143,116," Fraser notes.
"With a population of just over 650,000, packed into just 30.8 square kilometers, Macau also holds top spot as the most densely populated place on Earth, according to the United Nations. The tight squeeze means the casino city has 21,322 people per square kilometer packed into its bustling streets."



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