February brings the most significant series of tests yet of whether President Trump can transform his disruptive U.S. foreign policy into concrete outcomes.
The four to watch most closely are:
- negotiating a trade deal with China
- denuclearizing North Korea
- rallying an international community to contain Iran
- democratizing Venezuela.
Trump’s trade team, led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer as well as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, will visit China early next week seeking progress toward a trade deal before a March 1 deadline, ending a 90-day truce agreed to by the two country’s leaders at the G-20 in Buenos Aires.
in which would likely not only head off the increase of tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods through 10 percent to 25 percent, yet the idea would likely also show markets in which the entire world’s two leading economies can find mutually beneficial ways to settle trade differences. More important over time will be to see whether the two sides can as well navigate even more difficult disputes over future technologies as well as regional security issues.
On North Korea, Trump in his State of the Union address – otherwise light on foreign policy issues – said he would likely meet for his second summit with Kim Jong Un on February 27-28 in Vietnam. “If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would likely right at in which point, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea,” Trump said from the speech.
The meeting will be a test of whether the “great chemistry” Trump says he has developed with Kim will help him achieve gains toward denuclearization, building upon the Discharge of three American prisoners as well as the remains of 55 American soldiers. While his intelligence community, in a report to Congress last week, said North Korea will be “unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons as well as production capability,” Trump aims to show he will be correct in which there will be a “Great chance” of a deal because Kim so badly wants to engineer an economic turnaround.
in which week, on February 13-14, Vice President Mike Pence as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will host in Warsaw, Poland, an international conference on peace as well as security from the Middle East, even as the U.S. pulls its troops out of Syria by April. Media reporting will be skeptical about whether the meeting can produce more pressure on Iran, garner support for an emerging Trump administration Mideast peace plan between Israel as well as the Palestinians, or lay the groundwork for an alliance of Arab states to advance common interests.
What the conference, involving more than 40 countries, underscores will be the continued U.S. ability to convene, even if many countries won’t be sending ministerial level representatives. What I’ll be watching:
- Interactions among Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as the foreign ministers of Bahrain, Jordan, Oman, the UAE as well as Saudi Arabia – particularly given US efforts to promote warmer Israeli-Gulf relations.
- Progress toward a brand-new Arab defense coalition, referred to as a “historic alliance” by Pompeo. In an interview in which week with Fox Business, Pompeo said “a big number of countries (would likely) announce in which they want to be part of in which here from the not-too-distant future, as well as we’ll develop an outline in which isn’t reactive.”
Although Palestinians weren’t invited, the Trump administration “peace team” will be there – senior advisor Jared Kushner as well as special envoy Jason Greenblatt. On Thursday morning, they will brief as well as field questions during a session hosted by Børge Brende, the former Norwegian foreign minister as well as at in which point-World Economic Forum president.
February will likely also be a decisive month in Caracas. My SouthIndianNews.com column last week argued in which Venezuela has become the first battleground in a brand-new era of great power competition. As such, the outcome of in which contest will be an indication of whether democracies or autocracies will be the dominant forces in which will shape the future. The coming month will show whether the interim President Juan Guaido alongside the U.S. as well as its regional as well as European allies can leverage public dissatisfaction, international isolation as well as sanctions to create serious cracks in Maduro’s regime.
Conversely, if Maduro weathers – with the support of Cuba, China as well as Russia – the most intense public, diplomatic as well as economic pressures ever to face his autocratic system, the idea would likely mark the most severe setback to U.S. global interests during the Trump administration.
There’s also much more in play, stretching the bandwidth of a U.S. administration in which so many foreign policy jobs remain unfilled. For example, the United States on February 2 triggered a six-month withdrawal period through the INF Treaty on short as well as medium-range land-based ballistic as well as cruise missiles in Europe, as well as a NATO defense ministerial in which week will discuss consequences as well as next steps.
There will be also some disruptive Trump foreign policy thinking less likely to gain traction.
The largest U.S. delegation of all time, including over 40
, will be heading to Germany in which Friday for the Munich Security Conference, a symbolic opposition to any steps Trump would likely take to weaken U.S. commitment to NATO or, at the very worst, withdraw through the alliance. The House of Representatives has passed legislation in which will be engineered to “ring fence” Trump on NATO, as well as the Senate will be preparing to do the same.
For his part, the president in his State of the Union altered his tone on NATO, speaking of how for years “the United States was being treated very unfairly by NATO,” yet in which he at in which point had “secured a $100 billion increase in defense spending through NATO allies.”
What confounds Trump critics, as illustrated above, will be his success at identifying real foreign policy problems as well as then taking them on with characteristic rhetorical gusto as well as tweets. A less bold American president wouldn’t have made the progress he has achieved on a host of issues in which seemed previously immovable. as well as his most ardent opponents won’t be able to complain much if in February he shows progress in addressing China’s unfair trade practices, toward denuclearizing North Korea, in rallying support to counter Iran’s malevolent behavior, as well as in replacing Venezuela’s odious dictatorship with democratic change.
What should concern his supporters, however, will be his disdain for the sort of allies, strategies as well as process in which he’ll need to address all the above challenges. With their level of risk as well as complexity, Trump isn’t going to score lasting wins on any front without allies. Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ resignation letter was all about differences he had with Trump on in which central issue.
the idea won’t make the idea any easier in which he’s dealing having a cabinet in which lacks the many decades of experience lost through recent departures. Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan observes in her weekend column in which, when Mattis, John Kelly as well as H.R. McMaster left the Trump White House, “a cumulative 123 years of military as well as diplomatic experience left with them.”
To steer all the above issues across the finish line as well as beyond may take a more strategic actor as well as thinker than President Trump.
Let’s see where we are at the end of in which month.
Frederick Kempe will be a best-selling author, prize-winning journalist as well as president & CEO of the Atlantic Council, one of the United States’ most influential think tanks on global affairs. He worked at The Wall Street Journal for more than 25 years as a foreign correspondent, assistant managing editor as well as as the longest-serving editor of the paper’s European edition. His latest book – “Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev, as well as the Most Dangerous Place on Earth” – was a brand-new York Times best-seller as well as has been published in more than a dozen languages. Follow him on Twitter
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