If there’s one thing you can say about U.S. President Donald Trump is that he is a man of his word. He promised to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement; he vowed to scrap the Trans Pacific Partnership; he said he would kill the Iran nuclear deal; he pledged to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem; he said he would either break or renegotiate the NAFTA trade agreement.
All missions accomplished.
But for all his integrity, Trump’s actions have made his “Great America” an unreliable partner to its international allies and a petulant player on the world stage. This now begs the question: What’s more important to Trump, his nation’s integrity or his Twitter feed?
The constant flouting of agreements that previous U.S. administrations signed has put U.S. credibility on the line. Many are shocked that an agreement can be so readily and easily scrapped. Trump has used bluffing, posturing and sanctions as leverage to force others into submission.
Although this bag of tricks is nothing new for the United States, Trump has taken it to an entirely new level. For example, his administration just released its initial list of Chinese products totaling $50 billion that will be slapped with a 25 percent tariff. This was despite the fact that on May 19, China and the United States released a joint statement promising that neither side would resort to higher tariffs as an act of revenge, bringing an end to the two-months-long Sino-U.S. trade tensions.
The U.S. relation with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is another example. Trump first used threats and taunts against its leader, Kim Jong Un. Then he offered negotiations. And just last week he canceled the much anticipated summit between the two leaders, based on the DPRK's "tremendous anger and open hostility." Something Trump himself has never been accused of being in short supply of.
But only one day after that announcement, the president tweeted that he will probably meet with the DPRK leader as scheduled. Since when have international relations been subject to such whimsical decision-making?
And even if there is a deal signed in the future, how can the DPRK ever trust that the United States will abide by it? Just look at the fate of the U.S.-Iran deal as an example.
It is worth reminding Trump that at the negotiating table, every party wants the best deal. That’s why they are called negotiations, you don’t usually get everything you want. But Trump wants to have his cake and eat it too.
What he really needs to do is trust that his predecessors knew what they were doing and understand that the deals that he has scrapped actually made some sense.
Will Trump ever get with the program and realize that compromise is the key to negotiations? It remains to be seen. He did recently say the United States was looking into rejoining the TPP, which was the first deal he killed after taking office in 2017.
But a bigger question still looms: Is it even possible for Trump to recover U.S. credibility?
Copyedited by Rebeca Toledo
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