What Trump will leave behind for America

What Trump will leave behind for America

16 January 2021 06:08 pm

Donald Trump became the first US President to be impeached twice by the US House. Trump got a lot of credit for the economic growth of his first three years, but the economy according to experts was already growing when he took office. Obama passed on an economy that was recovering to Trump. Perhaps Trump’s biggest achievement was the normalisation in the Middle East. 

During this pandemic we saw for the first time a world with limited US influence and what such a world looks like? In June, as the worldwide death continued to rise, leaders from all over the world joined by videoconference to coordinate efforts to find and raise money for an effective vaccine. The summit this time was organised by the European Union and ended with pledges of more than $ 8 billion, along with commitments by most leaders to pool their efforts and resources to find and distribute effective medications and develop a vaccine against a virus from which no one was safe. 

It was the kind of gathering the world’s most powerful country, the United States has always led from the front to face many global emergencies. The world has always looked to the US President for leadership in times of crisis. However the chair normally reserved for the leader of the free world for the first time during this pandemic was ironically empty and was felt, globally.

Foreign policy

The failure of President Donald Trump to build an international coalition to combat the coronavirus was a failure that will haunt the US for many years. Among all of Trump’s foreign-policy legacies. The damage he has done to America’s global standing, influence, and power in the world by weakening the system of partnerships and alliances the country has developed over several generations and relied on for decades will hurt the US. 

Trump in the last four years abandoned multiple treaties and agreements, undermined the credibility of US defence guarantees, bullied and belittled many allies and friends, and even worked with dictators who threatened those allies and the United States. 

His America First campaign and his somewhat indifference to the rule of law at home and abroad often left allies wondering if they can count on the United States in a crisis. Many countries started to look elsewhere for more stable friends and partners. Indeed in the past four years he alienated many of his G-7 allies and suspended its relationship with the World Health Organization during an unprecedented health crisis, drawing widespread criticism globally. 

The COVID-19 crisis has shown the United States that a future pandemic, a war, a terrorist attack, a climate disaster, or nuclear confrontation can actually end up costing the United States far more resources it currently must invest going forward in maintaining the alliances and partnerships that help prevents such tragedies from happening.

The future 

Polls show that nearly seven in 10 Americans believe the United States should “take an active part in world affairs” while more than seven in 10 also believe that US military alliances with other countries contribute to US safety. 

With China’s ever-increasing leverage globally and the United States now isolated on so many fronts, the next administration led by President Joe Biden faces a daunting task in rebuilding the United States’ global alliances and partnerships and restoring trust and confidence in the country and its leadership. 

While most Americans agree that allies and partners should have to pay their fair share to help meet global challenges and keep the world safe. But they also do not want to live in a world that would put their own interests at risk without their commitments. Therefore the agenda for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris begins at home: by restoring the moral authority and soft power that have been so critical to the United States’ success around the globe, undermined now after years of policy shifts and funding cuts, etc. 

They must also revive their brand of diplomacy and rebuild US alliances all around the world. Also they must ensure that the antidemocratic politics and coups should not become an integral part of the American culture. 

In the final analysis, a world without US leadership is no longer a viable option post pandemic. A world in which the United States is less safe, less respected, and less able to deal with the enormous challenges the world faces is bad for global security and shared prosperity.

Daily FT