Foreign policy experts rebuke Trump administration for policies that emboldened rivals, alienated allies
President Trump and Chinese Vice Prime Minister Liu Er spoke to reporters in the White House Oval Office on April 4, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - A group of academic international relations experts view President Trump's handling of foreign policy "largely a failure" and identified specific examples of his botched global engagements while calling for new leadership weeks before election day.
The statement made available to Yahoo News was signed by nearly 50 foreign policy scholars from a number of schools across the country, including Harvard, Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, Tufts University's Fletcher School, and others, though the Signatory at a personal capacity. Notable signatories include Robert Jervis, past president of the American Political Science Association and professor of international politics at Columbia University; Brett Ashley Leeds, past President of the International Studies Association and Chair of Political Science at Rice University; and James Goldgeier, the former dean of the School of International Service at American University, where he is still professor of international relations.
At the top of the list of concerns, the scientists wrote that the “US trade war with China” at the start of the coronavirus pandemic only helped raise tariffs, “seriously injure US farmers” and hinder access to health protection equipment .
China was one of the questions raised in the Vice Presidential Debate Wednesday evening between Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence. Harris said the White House "lost" the trade war Wednesday night, while Pence accused Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden of loosening Beijing.
The letter's authors also accuse Trump of mistreating the global pandemic because the government broke with the World Health Organization and "failed to take global leadership" - in line with "several other countries with authoritarian style leaders".
Regarding other major U.S. opponents, the scholars believe that Trump failed to control the aggression of both North Korea and Iran, despite employing very different strategies aimed at each - letters and summits with North Korean officials against repressive sanctions and withdrawal from Obama -era Iran nuclear deal.
"North Korea has continued its nuclear weapons program," wrote the scientists. "Iran is now attacking the United States more frequently in Iraq and has a more robust nuclear weapons program." In Venezuela, the scholars write, people are "even more desperate" as attempts by the Trump administration to strengthen opposition to Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro have stalled.
In addition, they claim that Trump's policies at home - including separating immigrant children from their families, failing to condemn white supremacy and acts of racist violence, and using the Department of Homeland Security as a "non-partisan weapon" against immigrants - have reduced politics US as humanitarian leader on the global stage, while draining domestic resources that may be necessary "should a foreign adversary seek to harm the United States and its citizens".
Not all of Trump's guidelines have failed. As examples of the negotiation of the new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico and trade in peace agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain they would have noted. They found, however, that the effects were "grossly exaggerated" and used to deflect attention from failure to resolve larger problems such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Trump, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan stand on the balcony of the Blue Room during a signing ceremony for the Abraham Accords on Sept. in the White House. 15. (Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
"President Donald J. Trump's foreign policy has already done great damage," they wrote. "The United States can be rebuilt in positive ways, but Trump's second term would do even more damage to US institutions, diplomacy, leadership and international norms."
Jeremy Pressman, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of Middle East Studies at the University of Connecticut, coordinated the letter from independent scholars. In his personal capacity, Pressman told Yahoo News that it is important to express yourself in a fast-moving news cycle that allows important topics to be buried.
"This statement was an opportunity to remind us of a myriad of persistent problems and woes in US foreign policy," Pressman wrote in an email to Yahoo News. “The aim was not to find solutions here. But the declaration is beginning to flesh out the agenda of what needs to be addressed as soon as possible. "
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