Juan Williams: Trump’s scorecard is rife with losses

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Hillary Clinton’s best campaign speech in 2016 was her epic takedown of Donald Trump’s views on foreign policy.

“They’re not even really ideas — just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds, and outright lies,” the former secretary of State warned.

Well, it has been almost two-and-a-half years since Trump became president. Was Clinton right?

{mosads}Let’s go to the judge’s scorecards and see how the world’s top military and economic superpower, the USA, is doing with Trump in charge of foreign affairs.

China: Trump started and then escalated a trade war with our largest single trading partner. The result has been economic pain for American businesses — particularly farmers and manufacturers. They have lost sales and jobs. Tariffs are essentially taxes and always get passed on to consumers, leading to higher prices for Americans.

Last week, as trade talks stalled again, Trump threatened more tariffs on Chinese goods, prompting threats of retaliation from Beijing.

Trump can sign a bad deal and claim victory for his 2020 political campaign.

But let’s be clear — so far, Trump is losing the trade war he started with China.

North Korea: Despite the summit between the two leaders last June, when Trump said he “fell in love” with Kim Jong Un, North Korea has done nothing to halt its nuclear program.

In fact, just last week, North Korea tested a new short-range missile. Again despite more than two years of threats of “fire and fury,” and insults about “Rocket Man,” the reality is that the North Koreans are closer than ever to putting a nuclear weapon on a missile and threatening South Korea and Japan. 

Israel-Palestine: Trump has given Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israeli government everything it wanted — and gotten close to nothing in return.

He helped Netanyahu win reelection as prime minister last month with provocative actions, including moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and giving official recognition to Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights.

These moves reversed decades of U.S. policy. Now rockets are being fired at Israel. And even allies in the Arab world speak of being alienated from the U.S. and Israel.

Iran: Early in his administration, Trump gleefully tore up the Iran nuclear agreement. While forfeiting the best tool to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, Trump also alienated leading nations who remained in the deal.

Last week, Trump further inflamed tensions with Tehran by imposing new sanctions. Now, National Security Adviser John Bolton has announced that a U.S. carrier strike group and a bomber are being sent to the Middle East because of an unspecified but “credible” threat from Iran.

It looks like trouble, not victory, is around the corner.

Venezuela: Trump and Bolton seem hell-bent on moving the U.S. closer to military intervention in Venezuela. They seem oblivious to the long, tragic history of U.S. interventionism in South America. They continue to throw matches on another global tinderbox.

Let’s finish back at home with a look at how Americans see Trump’s handling of foreign policy.

A CNN poll published earlier this month found 52 percent of Americans disapproved of Trump’s handling of foreign affairs and only 42 percent approved.

{mossecondads}Trump repeatedly undermined and humiliated his first Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. Now he is undermining his current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, recently contradicting his public statements on Russia and Venezuela.

The State Department remains hampered by hundreds of vacancies for diplomatic positions. The vacancies are undermining a host of U.S. foreign policy projects, according to a Government Accountability Office report, endangering the security of diplomats and killing morale at the State Department.  

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, noted a pattern in Trump’s handling of foreign policy:

“Mr. Trump inherits a challenge or a problem of some sort, whether it’s with China or North Korea or many other parts of the world,” Haass said in a December 2018 interview with NPR.

“What he does is he takes a very confrontational stance, triggers something of a crisis. Then he backs down from the crisis in large part he created. And then he tends to claim victory, somewhat overselling what exactly he accomplished.”

Haass is right but there are real consequences for Trump’s pattern of creating “something of a crisis” as the basis for foreign policy. It makes the world less stable, emboldens our enemies and alienates our friends.

On foreign policy, Trump reminds me of Winston Churchill’s description of John Foster Dulles — “the bull who carries around his own china shop.”  

Objective reality tells us that Trump has made each of the global hot spots worse not better.

But in the minds of Trump loyalists, Trump pays no price for his failure. He just says the U.S. is winning the trade war with China. He claims Palestinians are more likely to do a peace deal with Israel. He promises the U.S. will be greeted as liberators by the Venezuelans.

As Joe Biden, the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, might say — that’s a bunch of malarkey.

As Hillary Clinton might say, I told you so.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

Tags Benjamin Netanyahu Donald Trump Foreign policy Hillary Clinton Joe Biden John Bolton Kim Jong Un Mike Pompeo Rex Tillerson Tariffs trade war

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