DT has managed to refocus US Foreign Policy within a year of assuming the seat of power, changing key policy commitments and challenging others including the relationship with Europe, China and Russia. Most significantly, Trump’s hegemonic focus on the economics of “America First” has resulted in The militarization of US Foreign Policy, creating impunity for particular miltiaristic allies, and initiated supermarket diplomacy on the other hand, where corporate policies and interests are at the forefront of determining the nation’s foreign policy agenda. The de-priorotization of foreign policy as a vital power tool is the lack of key diplomatic appointments, the slashing of the foreign policy budget and the lack of involvement of key FP leaders within the Department of State in shaping US’s FP content. So where and how is America forging and growing its international power?
The Militarization of Foreign Policy
In the period 2013-2017 (remarkably during Obama’s second term) US Foreign Arms sales increased by 58% cementing its position as the largest weapons merchant in the world, followed by Russia, France and Germany in that order. A majority of these weapon sales occurred in the Middle East and Asia. However a lot of the “brief” given to US embassies was to promote US weapons industry and secondly US auto industry. DT is riding this wave set by President Obama and is focusing 2018 on expanding these sales and pushing the Military Industrial complex to take a significant part of the lead on foreign policy. The firing of Rex Tillerson and appointment of Mike Pompeo are confirmation of the Militarization of US Foreign Policy.
Further, DT has destabilized and shaken-up, established foreign policy, creating volatility and sowing further discord. Again the Middle East is the region where this is most in evidence and counter-intuitively, a close second is the USA and North America itself. In the Middle East, DT reached out to Saudi Arabia, UAE and Israel (the largest buyers of American arms) supporting their current military forays in locations such as Yemen, Syria and Palestinian Territories (Golan Heights) while ignoring and actually dismissing human rights, humanitarian and international law concerns as invalid. This has created a de facto “license to kill” for those selected few who now operate with impunity in Arab the killing fields of Yemen, Syria and Palestinian Territories. No longer can we assume that rule of law and international legal norms and conventions will be upheld by historically its most ardent advocate, the US.
In the future, countries to watch over military adventurism are India, Iran, Myanmar (if this genocide can at all worsen), the Koreas and Philippines.
America Signals its Price Tags: Supermarket Diplomacy
American foreign policy interests are for sale. DT has proclaimed that any economic engagement for American industry and for his own Trump economic empire, is likely to inform future American FP initiatives. The first blaring evidence of this was with India where DT Jr assumed ably the role of an ambassador for the POTUS when he made billions for the Trump economic empire and at the same time, arranged for US industrial interests to be considered favorably by India.
Not all supermarket diplomacy has been in the limelight. Looking at South and Central America, US corporations with business interests in Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia and Chile are now at the forefront of agreeing FP and determining its future content. Other countries like Argentina and the “Guays” Uruguay and Paraguay do not merit any Administration attention for exactly the same reason – no corporate interest. This trend has also translated into the virtual dismemberment of NAFTA, and an increasingly acrimonious economic negotiation with Canada and Mexico. The steel and aluminum Tariffs were just an introduction of what is to come. More will come and it will be dictated by very narrowly defined American corporate interests.
The St George Syndrome: Slaying the Dragon
So why has this been so possible? What happened to the all powerful State Department? The coincidence of a huge number of top-level retirements and the lack of re-recruitment for all levels of State department positions has been at the center of the decay of this in situation. The real upshot of this development has been the decrease of critical oversight and the capacity to do so, to sound the alert on critical absence of American FP attention within the State Department. By appointing Rex Tillerson to its helm, DT effectively ensured that the State Department would be decimated and that no new appointments would be made to critical positions and briefs. REXIT is right on time as Pompeo is going to pick very different FP warriors – those he trusts and that represent the DT/Pompeo foreign policy agenda elaborated above. Now you will see a huge number of appointments from outside the State Department ranks of people from the Defense/Security/Intelligence community to key policy-setting positions. By slaying the ranks of the State Department, DT has effectively paved the way for the institutionalization of a military/intelligence-ization of American foreign policy. The effects of this will be felt for far longer than the POTUS term and much like the Supreme Court appointments that are coming up, this will define and extend internationally USA’s new image to friends and foes alike.
We are at the pinnacle of a rapid slide into a new world order, where Europe might end up being the vanguard of values of freedom, human rights and defense of international law alone facing deviant leadership from the USA, Russia and to a lesser extent China.