Under increasing pressure from the Russian collusion and obstruction of justice investigation that is quickly closing in around him, Donald Trump is becoming more and more erratic and reportedly borderline delusional, causing him to lash out at his usual victims as he always does in order to deflect attention from his own failures. As the President himself becomes more and more unhinged, American foreign policy drifts into almost nothingness, seemingly incapable of responding to the challenging world events facing us.
Trump’s retweeting of fake videos posted by the racist and fascist Britain First caused an immediate firestorm in the UK, traditionally our strongest ally. The truly outrageous nature of the tweets resulted in a twitter war between Trump and Theresa May. In Parliament, members from virtually all sides of the political spectrum were united in their condemnation of Trump promoting vile, racist, hate-filled propaganda. May initially responded carefully to the retweets by saying through a spokesman “Britain First seeks to divide communities by their use of hateful narratives that peddle lies and stoke tensions. They cause anxiety to law-abiding people. British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right which is the antithesis of the values this country represents, decency, tolerance and respect.”
As usual, however, Trump could not let it go and responded with further attacks, tweeting, “Theresa, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!”. In typical Trumpian fashion, of course, he initially tweeted this message to the wrong Theresa May. That prompted May to return in kind, saying, “I am very clear that retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do.” Trump’s already long-delayed visit to the UK will now not happen anytime in the foreseeable future. More importantly for the UK, Trump’s ability to alienate the majority of Brits along with the total incompetence of his administration in general has also killed any progress on a US-UK trade deal for the foreseeable future as well. That deal was one hope that the May government had to offset the disastrous effects from Brexit.
Also on Wednesday, North Korea launched its latest version of a long-range ballistic missile and the results showed the country now had the capability of reaching the entirety of the continental United States. Trump’s response to the launch was simply, “We will take care of it. It is a situation that we will handle.” Of course, nothing that Trump has done indicates he has any idea of how to handle it. And, in fact, because of the administration’s inability to lay out a coherent strategy, it appears that the US is lurching toward its default position when confronted with a foreign policy problem. Of course, that default position is military action.
Lindsey Graham reflected the war-mongering neocon attitude in Congress with his statement that “If we have to go to war to stop this, we will. We’re headed toward a war if things don’t change.” But any military action against North Korea will endanger the lives of millions in South Korea. In addition, China has indicated that it will come to North Korea’s defense if the country is attacked, potentially creating a standoff between two enormous nuclear powers.
Trump’s Asia trip produced lots of parades and toasts for the President but the only material gains were made at the expense of the US. Trump’s reneging on the US-South Korea trade deal and pulling out of the TPP has driven Asian leaders closer together but also at the same time sped up the inexorable path to Chinese leadership in the region. Already, the usually ice-cold relationship between China and Japan and South Korea are seeing a slight thaw. Australia is also beginning its own pivot toward China. In Asia, America appears to be in full retreat.
Today, Egypt announced that it would now allow Russian aircraft to use its airspace and bases. This action brings the two countries closer than they have been in 44 years, since Egypt threw the Russians out of the country and became a staunch US ally and for years the recipient of the largest amount of US aid of any country. It is unclear whether the US was even aware of the possibility of this decision before it happened, probably because we have virtually no diplomatic presence in Egypt since Trump removed the ambassador and due to Tillerson’s understaffing of experts in the region at the depleted State Department.
Putin and the Russians are making remarkable inroads into the Middle East as America stands by and does nothing. Egypt and the US have their own complex military arrangements and this agreement with the Russians will certainly complicate that. In Syria, Putin has managed to again cement the country as a client state within its sphere of influence. In addition, Russia has been able to sell billions in weapons to both Turkey and Saudi Arabia and improve its relations with both.
As one former Obama administration official says, “Power abhors a vacuum and when the United States pulls back we can’t be under the impression that the world is going to stand by and wait for us. The danger, and the reality, is that other countries will take advantage of the opportunity presented when America chooses to pull back.” In Asia, China is aggressively filling that void and Russia is doing the same in the Mideast. Meanwhile, Trump is alienating our strongest ally and America is becoming weaker and weaker and more and more ineffective by the day.
Originally published at tidalsoundings.blogspot.com on December 1, 2017.