Maine Writer

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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Kansas echo - the world waits it out: Donald Trump

Trump faces a slew of foreign policy challenges all at once- but the world appears to be waiting for administration turnover.

An echo opinion published in the Wichita Eagle by Andrew Malcolm special to McClatchy

Americans are not the only people who are closely following the 2020 presidential contest. And that reality is causing serious and growing challenges for Donald Trump.

A self-proclaimed world-class deal-maker, a perhaps overconfident Trump is confronting not one, not two, but a half-dozen serious foreign policy problems simultaneously. None of these escalating challenges, save perhaps Venezuela, are new. And solving them has stumped all other recent presidents.

But the timing and scale of some are of Trump’s own choosing or making, depending on your view of him. This accumulation of coincidental crises could be intentional or the result of an unorganized administration reflecting its leader’s sometimes impetuous inclinations.

But each one carries important consequences and threats for the nation’s foreign relations, peace and the president’s chances of capturing a second term next year.

In fact, the possibility — some would say likelihood — of a Trump with chronically unfavorable poll numbers joining George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter as one-term presidents seems to be a factor in recent decisions by China and North Korea to back off of previous commitments. Iran also has been willing to stir up more trouble, and the Taliban has dragged out peace talks on Afghanistan, awaiting perhaps a more friendly successor administration.

Waiting out the maximum eight-year life of an American administration unfavorable to their interests is a default option for many foreign governments, especially in Asia where one-man or one-party rule is common. Japan has been successfully employing protectionist trade policies this way for decades.

Last week, as he has long threatened, Trump imposed large tariff increases on Chinese goods when, he said, officials reneged on commitments already agreed to, including protecting intellectual property rights.

“I’m different than a lot of people,” an understated Trump said without admitting that includes many in his own adopted GOP. 

“I happen to think that tariffs for our country are very valuable.” (MaineWriter- another serial lie!)

Few beyond Beijing doubt the need for significant changes in Chinese cyber-espionage and trade

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