After 9/11, the United States under President Bush and now President Obama have begun a campaign of perpetual war on multiple fronts around the world. While President Bush was notorious for his failed and illegitimate war in Iraq, President Obama has started and supported more numerous war fronts without as much conspicuousness as his predecessor.
When President Obama came into office, he came on a platform of change and a new direction for American foreign policy. One where America’s interests will be first and foremost, yet the wars and drones continued as before. Obama’s foreign policy became Bush 2.0. Despite promising to usher a new era of peace and stability, President Obama has engaged in what appears to be an endless campaign of war in an array of fronts, some explicit and some inconspicuous. While claiming to create the most transparent government, President Obama has perhaps been one of the most opaque administrations in modern history. The Obama presidency has been a continuation of the neoconservative agenda.
President-elect Trump’s supposed views on foreign policy have been critiqued by many mainstream commentators as careless and detrimental to American interest. Yet these same commentators and analyst were in support of President Bush’s Iraq war and mute on the many Obama wars that have created further animosity towards the United States rather than help ameliorate the loss in credibility.
This is exactly what strikes at the heart of what many view as a failed foreign policy executed by the US for the past couple of decades. While mainstream analysts continue to be perplexed at the potential Donald Trump foreign policy, this new way of thinking will most likely include easing of tensions between the US and Russia, ending the American involvement in the Middle East, and an end to the blanket American defense for certain security arrangements that are outdated and premised on an enemy that is no longer in existence.
The Trump administration claims that they desire a “stable, peaceful world with less conflict and more common ground … producing an easing of tensions in the world.”
While the experts, on the left and right, continue to ridicule Trump’s policy plans, it is these same experts who cannot explain years of failed policy dedicated to nation-building. All the meanwhile, these same supposed experts continue to support the Obama policy of increased tension with Russia. Trump wants to do the contrary; he is willing to remove the sanctions imposed on Russia as well as recognize Russian sovereignty over Crimea and all the while pulling back from American engagement in Ukraine. Due to such comments, Russian President Putin has begun to warm up to the president-elect. Whether this is wise or not is another thing, but the ratcheting up of events in that region is beneficial to nobody.
Unlike previous administrations, Trump desires to engage in a general withdrawal from the region. The region has been a bête noire for many American presidencies. For Trump, ISIS appears to be a cancer in a sick region. ISIS will be the central focus of his Middle East strategy. Once this cancer is removed, Trump will begin to withdraw from the area. It appears the Obama administration is more focused on unseating Assad than purging the region of ISIS. In doing so, the Obama administration has begun a proxy war with Russia. The spider web of relations in the Middle East makes it a natural volatile region, which Trump hopes to avoid.
Trump has made it a point to review and renegotiate deals and treaties that he thinks are not in favor of America’s core interests. He has questioned the use of such antediluvian treaties that no longer serve the United States’ interest but continue to benefit the recipients. Why are US troops still stationed in Germany, Japan, or South Korea? Such questions have begun to permeate to many voters. Instead of blank checks being sent to foreign governments, the American public wants that money to be spent repairing its own infrastructure rather than those of foreign countries.
Trump possesses what may be a great opportunity to renew America’s standing in the world and usher in a new era of Pax Americana under his presidency. He might restore the credibility and stature of America that has been lost in the overreach of the previous administrations. Or he might be a continuation of the status quo to the chagrin of his supporters, only time will tell.