Donald Trump’s Climate Change executive order is not only horrible for the environment, but as Damian Carrington in The Guardian correctly points out, it cedes American leadership in the greatest foreign policy matter of this generation to the Chinese. Climate Change is the single biggest geopolitical issue facing policymakers today and the US has now unilaterally withdrawn from any sort of real international leadership on this issue.
I know most of our readers and my colleagues here at TFS opposed the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). I generally oppose free trade agreements (and even tepidly supported Brexit as many readers might recall, though that was under the assumption David Cameron would stay as Prime Minister and not cede power as he did) but the reason I supported TPP and believe President Obama so aggressively pushed it was because TPP isn’t a NAFTA/EU-type regional agreement that benefits bureaucrats and businesses exclusively. It was a far greater play than that.
TPP was largely designed largely to bottle up China and secure a bi-polar power arrangement in the Pacific rim. It was as much a security arrangement as it was a trade agreement. But by unilaterally withdrawing from TPP, Trump handed the region over to China and left our longtime allies like Australia and South Korea at the mercy of the Chinese. Trump never really understood the TPP as he articulated incorrect information about it in the Republican primaries and never stopped until he was in the White House.
On North Korea, Trump is being tested early in his administration with the Chinese doing little to rein in a nation wholly dependent on Beijing for its survival. Like previous administrations, Trump’s is at the mercy of the Chinese to deal with North Korea but unlike previous President’s, Trump doesn’t seem to know where to start in terms of dealing with a looming crisis.
The general policy drift of this administration appears to eschew multilateral diplomacy in favor of tough rhetorical talk and an unhealthy combination of unilateralism and protectionism. The key beneficiary of this American disengagement from leadership and problem solving is without question the Chinese.
Trump correctly identified China in his campaign as the greatest threat to American economic security. But now Beijing is rapidly enhancing its global financial hegemony thanks to Trump. For all the talk that Trump might be a stooge of the Russians and Vladimir Putin (something not borne out by his early foreign policy moves – if anything it appears Trump’s moves will put him on a collision course with Russia sooner of later) one must wonder if Trump is really working with the Chinese – either as an agent destined to turn global leadership over to them, or as someone so incompetent he is unwillingly aiding them because he fundamentally misunderstands American soft power and economic influence in the global