Trump’s Failing Foreign Policy


Ada Carter

Until recently, Trump’s foreign policy has largely avoided criticism.

Leo Barron, Managing Editor

Trump’s presidency has been controversial, loud, insulting, tumultuous, and mostly, extremely confusing. The president has railed against windmills and the term “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas” while simultaneously trying to run the country and fight an impeachment case that gets more and more complicated every day. Yet for everything that Trump has been scrutinized for, he has managed to remain relatively unscathed when it comes to feedback about his foreign policy, and pundits say that he has done little to garner any real criticism. 

But on January 3rd, Trump managed to jump into the spotlight once again as he ordered an attack on Qasem Soleimani, the top military general in Iran, setting off threats of war from Iranian protesters and the Iranian government. In truth, Trump has made many mistakes with US foreign policy, even if he hasn’t been criticized for them, and the unnecessary killing of Soleimani was just another mishap in Trump’s many disastrous foreign policy decisions. Because of Trump’s provocative character, his failures on foreign policy receive much less attention than his inflammatory statements (most of them made on Twitter), but looking at his record, it is clear that Trump has made many costly failures in US foreign policy.

First, Trump believed he could develop a relationship with North Korea, something no president has wanted, or attempted, to do. North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, is known for his countless human rights violations and his strong nuclear arsenal.

On June 12th, 2018, Trump met with Kim Jong Un in Singapore. After talks with the dictator, Trump felt so confident about the meeting that he tweeted, “There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.” Well, as with many things Trump says, this turned out to be completely false. Trump was duped by Kim Jong-Un, who indicated that North Korea would stop nuclear testing when he met with Trump, but two months later, the country began tests of their missiles yet again. With any other president, getting fooled by a dictator would be a signal of an extreme failure, but for Trump, it was just another day in the office, and the story passed as quickly as it came. 

Looking at his record, it is clear that Trump has made many costly failures.

While Trump’s North Korean policies were laughable, his Middle East policies are even more embarrassing. In late 2019, Trump announced the withdrawal of troops from Syria, a place where troops have been stationed since 2016. The announcement came as a shock to almost all of the world, as the US troops stationed in Syria were there solely to protect the Kurds, a group of militants fighting against Bashar Al Assad and his oppressive regime. The US had developed a bond with the Kurds, and the Kurds had helped the US defeat ISIS in Syria, yet Trump decided to essentially leave them for dead. After the US pulled out of Syria, the Kurds were attacked from all sides, allowing Assad to easily defeat them and keep his power in Syria.

And now we have Iran. While Soleimani, the top military general for Iran, was a despicable person, the airstrike that killed him was not necessary. The US has been involving itself in conflicts in the Middle East for far too long, and creating another disaster in the Middle East would be costly, ineffective, and risky. Trump has stayed away from significant foreign policy decisions since the beginning of his tenure, but in his biggest decision yet, he may have just brought the US to the brink of war. 

This piece also appears in our January 2020 print edition.