The following is the second installment in a series of undetermined duration and frequency about life in America after Trump (A.T.).
With history as a guide and hoping for a little good fortune America will survive Donald Trump. We have survived other bad presidents before, although perhaps none as bad as the present occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Today I’d like to concentrate on two major areas within international relations that will need immediate attention upon Trump’s exit.
The first area in need of repair is the State Department. I feel State has not gotten the attention it deserved under the past several presidents but Trump took it from careless smoking to playing with blowtorches. I can’t help but suspect that part of the neglect was at the command of Vladimir Putin. Putin wants to bring Russia to international prominence. Building it to a level where it is on par (except for nuclear weapons) with China, the European Union or the United States would be impossible in what is left of his lifetime. Therefore the only way to achieve his objective is to bring the competition down to his level.
One of America’s strengths and an area where it was clearly superior to Russia was in diplomacy. Under Trump the rush to the door at Foggy Bottom has accelerated. In too many cases Trump and company “assisted” the exits. The last reporting I saw stated that there were some 400 significant level jobs still left unfilled at State over two years into this administration. That may make Putin happy but it certainly makes America weaker and a less significant player on the world stage.
There is no quick fix. State Department jobs are not plug and play positions. It takes years to refine diplomatic skills and build relationships. One of the top priorities of the next administration must be the rebuilding of the State Department. My suggestion is a two pronged approach. Where age appropriate and possible lure back as much of the lost talent as possible. They have a learning curve advantage. Also, in most cases it is easier to rekindle a relationship than cultivate one. When recruiting new talent State needs to go back to what for decades was fertile ground – the Ivy League. If we can reemphasize the diplomatic corps we can make a career in it attractive to our best and brightest.
The next major task is to rejoin the international community. Keeping American interests foremost is great; after all government employees literally work for America. Isolationism is a step too far and not in our national interest. Reneging on deals is even worse. Who wants to make a deal that may be walked out on by the next temporary occupant of the White House.
Trump did significant harm to the United States by backing out of the Iran Nuclear Deal and the Paris Climate Agreement. In the case of the Iran Nuclear Deal every other signatory including Iran was living up to their word. America unilaterally broke its promise. To make matters worse America is now pressuring other signatories to break their word or lose America as an economic trading partner. As part of the alleged military threat in the region Iran reportedly is refusing to negotiate with the Trump regime. Can anyone blame them? Trump has proven that his word isn’t worth the air it is spoken through or the paper it is written on. Trump has turned what has too often been the ugly American into the hideous American.
The Iran Nuclear Deal was a limited deal in any event, but it beat an Iran going full speed ahead in the development of nuclear weapons! Perhaps left unchecked Iran would someday deploy nuclear weapons; perhaps not. The danger of unchecked climate change is a certainty.
Like most deals, the Paris Climate Agreement was far from a panacea. Perhaps most signatories (which included every significant country in the world except the United States) would religiously abide by the terms, perhaps not. At worst it would be a substantial start if we were included. By not participating we abdicated our role as a world leader. What kind of example of leadership and American exceptionalism is that?
There you have this phase in a nutshell. Rebuild diplomacy via the State Department and rejoin the world community of nations. That is one path toward making America a great world leader again.
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