The Financial Express
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An appraisal of the Trump administration

An appraisal of the Trump administration

Since assuming presidency on January 20, 2017 of the United States of America, the oldest democracy and a global leader in the world, Donald Trump has been unlike any other president in the history of the US. He has constantly referred to the biggest names in news media as 'fake news'. He has ignored numerous, authentic investigative reports by powerful intelligence agencies of USA.

The patience of Western leaders with his antics seem to be thinning as was reflected during his visit to France to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1 in November of last year. On arrival, President Trump picked up a quarrel with French President Emmanuel Macron about a piece of garbled press translation, which said Macron wanted a European army as protection against the USA. In fact, Macron is reported to have said such a force would reduce Europe's reliance on USA. Macron criticised President Trump's "America First" politics in his speech as he called it "a betrayal of patriotism".

On November 10, 2018, President Trump also scrapped a planned visit to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial for American soldiers who had died during World War 1 in France. The French President and German Chancellor Angela Merkel paid their respects to the war heroes together while Russian President Vladimir Putin paid respects to the fallen heroes alone on the day. The next day, following criticism back home, President Trump paid tribute at Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial in Paris. He was quick to blame the cancellation of the previous day's trip on his Secret Service.

In January of last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping turned out to be a global leader while speaking about free trade concept at the World Economic forum in Davos, Switzerland. His stance was well-received by the rich and powerful business magnates and experts as well. It is interesting to note that Canada, a close neighbour of USA, joined Chinese-floated regional Development bank in 2015 while Australia, UK, Germany and France were among the founding members of the bank. Regional Development Bank is likely undermining the authority of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund established after World War II by the United States.

Japan, a close ally of the United States since the Second World War, and Europe agreed on a free trade deal as an alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership floated by President Obama. But President Trump unceremoniously abandoned it. President Trump also pulled out of the Paris Climate Treaty when his administration warned of devastating impacts following climate change and the Iran nuclear deal-two international pacts that European leaders had worked very hard on.

  President Trump has never missed an opportunity to criticise NATO members for failing to spend enough on their militaries. He also shared with Russian President Vladimir Putin that NATO was an obsolete organisation. Following the NATO Summit in Brussels from July 11 till 12, 2018, USA Today's editorial on July 16 pointed out that the US President's "truculent attacks on close friends risk serious damage to the greatest alliance America has ever known-to the great delight of Russian President Vladimir Putin who wants to weaken and splinter the west."

At a press conference on July 16, 2018, following a one-to-one meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Trump told the world that he continues to harbour doubts that Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election. He argued that the USA is as much at fault as Russia for "tattering relations between two superpowers". Trump's claims came under question after Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigations revealed explicit connections that Trump had with Russia before the 2016 US presidential election, through a flurry of bombshell court filings in the first week of December 2018.

While conducting foreign relations, President Trump announced on December 23 that the USA will pull out its troops from Syria. The move will give Russia and Iran free rein in the Middle East. Earlier, his decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in violation of international law also received criticism from leaders from around the world. He was also rebuked by bipartisan lawmakers for siding with Saudi Arabia following the killing of a Saudi journalist at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October of 2018.

Internally, President Trump is pushing for sweeping changes to US immigration. He is planning to close down the visa lottery system and make citizenship difficult for legal immigrants in the USA. He still plans to build a big wall around the US-Mexico border to stop the entry of illegal immigrants. He also banned entry of immigrants into USA from countries like Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and travellers from North Korea and certain government officials from Venezuela. Facing a growing wave of national outrage, President Trump signed an executive order on June 20, 2018 to halt his administration's policy of separating migrant families detained at the southern border.

It is interesting to note that as many as 37 officials, including three Chiefs of Staff, have either resigned or been fired from the Trump administration. His first Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson was removed following disagreement with President on some international issues, including the Middle East. Trump's Defence Secretary James Mattis also quit in December. Trump immediately assigned Patrick Shanahan as Acting Defence Secretary.

In December of 2018, Trump shut down the Federal administration as Congress is not okaying funds of around $ 5 billion required to build the wall on the US-Mexico border. Incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Minority leader in the Senate Chuck Schumer said to the media on December 31, 2018 that if leader of the Senate Republican Mitch McConnell and senate republicans refuse to support the spending bill, then they are complicit with President Trump at continuing the Trump shutdown. In the process, said Pelosi and Schumer, the Republicans at the senate are holding the health and safety of the American people and workers pay-cheques hostage.

Also, in December, Trump made secret trips to US bases in Iraq to exchange Christmas greetings with American soldiers. In the process, he exposed covert Navy SEAL deployment. During the visit, Trump did not meet any Iraqi leaders. This angered them to the point that they demanded US troops leave Iraq as well.

According to the Washington Post, over 7,000 false or misleading claims have been made by President Trump during his two years as President. By and large, the situation in the United States of America is not at all healthy under Donald Trump's presidency.

Mohammad Amjad Hossain is a retired diplomat from Bangladesh.


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