Blaming Trump for US foreign policy disasters ‘would misread history’ says expert

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Mr Trump’s four years in office have been punctuated with clashes with allies and adversaries alike as he pressed ahead with his America First policies. And all eyes are now on Mr Biden to see how he reappraises his country’s relationship with the rest of the world.

To blame his predecessor would be to misread history

Richard Haas

But foreign relations expert Richard Haas warned blaming his predecessor for all or even most of the international challenges Mr Biden could face would be a mistake.

Mr Haas, head of the Washington-based Council for Foreign Affairs, said: “There are areas in which the Trump administration got things right: in calling out China for its trade practices, in supplying lethal arms to Ukraine, in striking an updated trade deal with Canada and Mexico, in brokering normalisation between Israel and several Arab states.

“But there are many more in which the administration got things wrong: in undermining the alliances that had been the bedrock of international stability for 75 years – in turn raising questions about US reliability among friends and foes alike – in withdrawing from international agreements and institutions without putting anything better in their place, in cosying up to authoritarian leaders in China, North Korea, Russia, and Turkey to little or no real end.”

Mr Haas said Mr Trump’s frequent violation of democratic norms and policies such as separating migrant children from their parents and banning travellers from many Muslim-majority countries undermined America’s appeal around the world.

But he warned: “To blame his predecessor for all or even most of the international challenges that will await Biden would be to misread history.

“Many were in play long before Trump and will persist long after he exits the Oval Office: a rising and more assertive China, a Russia willing to use military force and cyber-capabilities to advance its goals, a North Korea with growing nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, and Iran committed to carrying out an imperial strategy in a turbulent Middle East, advancing climate change, weak and ineffective governments in much of the developing world, an ongoing refugee crisis.

“Simply reversing what Trump did or did not do, however welcome in many instances, would not solve the problem.”

Mr Trump is still refusing to accept the election result which places Mr Biden as the clear winner fo the race to the White House.

The President-elect has branded Mr Trump’s challenge of the results “totally irresponsible.”

Mr Trump has launched legal challenges in multiple states and claimed, without evidence, that he is the rightful winner of the election.

His administration has refused to recognise Mr Biden as the likely winner, blocking the Democrat’s transition team from funding and office space and the president-elect from receiving classified briefings.

Speaking after a call with state governors, Mr Biden said he was not concerned Mr Trump’s refusal to concede the election would prevent a transfer of power but said it “sends a horrible message about who we are as a country”.

Mr Haas said Mr Biden should make repairing rifts with US allies once he is behind the desk in the Oval Office.

He said: “Alliances and partnerships provide for a pooling of resources to meet both local security threats and global challenges.

“Yet in recent years, most US allies have lost confidence in the United States, the result of its unwillingness to stand up to adversaries and reticence to stand by friends along with the country’s own domestic shortcomings.

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“Setting out immediately to demonstrate a new, more consultative and committed approach to alliances would signal that there is a new and very different sheriff in town, one willing to work with allies on the full range of international issues.

“Repaired alliances would provide a stronger basis for all else the United States would want to do in the world.”

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