Democrats accuse Trump of pursuing reckless foreign policy

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WASHINGTON: As Pakistan still struggles to assess the full impact of the Trump administration’s decision to suspend security aid to the country, Democrats in the US Senate say the 45th American president is pursuing a “dangerous, reckless and un-American” foreign policy.

The scathing indictment of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy is included in a document prepared by the Democratic staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to mark the first anniversary of the Trump administration on Jan 20.

In a statement accompanying the document, Senator Ben Cardin, a ranking Democrat, accuses Mr Trump of making hasty decisions — often without consulting his own Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — and using Twitter to conduct foreign policy.

“That makes him one of the most unpredictable Commanders-in-Chief in our nation and the free world’s history, adding dangerous risk to our national security objectives,” says Senator Cardin.

The document warns President Trump that “high-stakes diplomacy cannot be conducted through Twitter”. The US leader had also used Twitter to unveil his new Pakistan policy earlier this month, leading to the suspension of all security assistance to an erstwhile ally.

“The Trump administration reaches for a hammer for every problem, circumstances and context aside,” says the document, raising an objection often heard in Islamabad.

The committee’s Democratic staff claims that even Secretary Tillerson has acknowledged “he finds out about the president’s foreign policy statements [after] his staff prints Trump’s tweets for him”. Secretary Tillerson also has indicated that America’s values would no longer dictate America’s interests, it add.

Referring to President Trump’s decision to ban citizens of some Muslim countries from coming to the US, the staff notes: “The Muslim ban was proof-positive at the outset that the Trump Administration would denigrate our values and isolate us from the rest of the world.”

Democrats claim that President Trump “has repeatedly debased his office on Twitter, threatening war, using sexual innuendo, and revealing he does not know how to run the government”.

Because of him “people around the world are losing confidence in the United States” as he has “betrayed America’s values, abandoned our allies, and appeased our enemies”, they add. “The Trump adminis­tration’s ‘America First’ foreign policy is risky and chaotic, and will result in America Alone and America Last.”

Democrats claim that President Trump’s words and actions are sending a signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin that he might continue to attack US democratic institutions and values with impunity.

They also refer to a new Gallup poll of public opinion in 134 nations, which shows that confidence in the US has plummeted to 30 per cent, down from 48 per cent under President Obama.

Democrats accuse the Trump administration of “brushing off key (US) commitments” to alliances like Nato and the United Nations and also of attacking friendly nations, like Britain, Australia and South Korea.

They claim that President Trump’s rhetoric has put the US on the path to multifaceted conflict with China and has jeopardised the Iran nuclear agreement by not certifying Iran’s compliance, even though he has produced no evidence to back up his non-certification.

President Trump, they add, has failed to fill critical national security jobs and is gutting America’s diplomatic and development institutions. Of 163 total Senate confirmed positions to the State Department and USAID, the Administration has not even nominated individuals for 72 of those positions.

Democrats also accuse President Trump and his family of promoting their business interests above America’s interests and claim that his daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, continues to work on issues that could benefit her financially.

This article was first published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2018.