Our Shrinking Power and Influence under Trump

I’ll admit it. While I recently took pleasure in public and vitriolic breakdown on Trump’s White House staff, I was also pleased when London’s Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, called on the British government to cancel Trump planned state visit to the United Kingdom.

I also loved it when the Republican health care efforts died in the Senate and some Republican lawmakers laid the blame for their defeat on Trump’s lack of leadership.  However, I also just felt satisfaction when I read that a Pew Research Center poll of Global Attitudes & Trends of 40,000 people in 37 countries found that around the world found that only 22% of those populations have confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs while 74% gave him a no confidence vote.  I also took perverse pleasure when I learned that Angela Merkel rated a 42% confidence rating and even Vladimir Putin had a 27% rating while Xi Jinping of China scored 28%.  In a previous poll Barrack Obama had 64% confidence rating around the world during his last year in office with only 22% having no confidence in our last year as President.

While I rejoice in the bumbling of Trump and the Congressional Republicans and their inability to advance their agenda, I have a growing concern about the adverse affects of this Presidency on our country’s reputation and influence around the world.  Unfortunately, the reputation of our country is tied to a large extent to the reputation of our President.  The same set of Pew world wide polls revealed that during the last year Obama’s presidency, 64% of people in those 37 countries had a favorable view of the US.  That number has now dropped to 49% while the number with an unfavorable view has risen from 26% to 37%.  These are scary statistics considering that Trump has been in office only six months.

There can no doubt that this lowering of the perception of the United States in the eyes of the people of the world is directly related to their deep disapproval of Trump.  75% of the 40,000 people polled believe Trump is arrogant. 65% believe he is intolerant and 62% believe he is down right dangerous.  They wonder what kind of people could elect such a man to lead them. Nor is their disapproval solely related to his character; they also deeply disapprove of his policies. Only 34% approve of Trump’s talk of withdrawing from the Iranian nuclear deal.  Only 32% approve of his ban of people entering the US from Muslim countries.  19% approve of his withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords and 18% approval his withdrawal from trade deals.

Unfortunately, some of the greatest slips in approval for both our country and its President have occurred among our best allies – Trump has only an 11% confidence rating in Germany, 14% in France, 22% in Canada, 22% in the UK, and 24% in Japan. Conversely Trump’s confidence ratings are best among our competitors and enemies – Trump has a 53% approval rating in Russia.  This makes it much harder for the leaders of our best allies to stand with us during a world crisis.  Leaders like Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, and Justin Trudeau will find it more difficult to align their counties with ours without the full support of their people.

In addition, nature abhors a vacuum.  As Trumps “America First” policies tend to force our country off of the world stage, other countries are more than happy to take over our leadership role. That leadership void in Europe seems destined to be filled by European leaders like Merkel and Macron.  While NATO will not be as effective against Putin’s aggressive if the US continues to step back from the alliance, opposition to Trump’s policies has made the alliance more cohesive. The people of European have definitely learned from our experience with Trump not elect nationalistic leaders.

On the other hand in the Pacific region, China has taken advantage of leadership vacuum created Trump’s nationalistic policies.  The Obama administration worked long and hard to negotiate and sign the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) with 23 other countries on the Pacific Rim such as Japan, Malaysia, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile. The purpose of the agreement was in part

to counter China’s growing influence in the region.  While Trump and others have characterized the TPPA as a job killer, this stance was more about politics than economics. We actually would have gained far more in the deal than we have up. The US already had far more trade open than many of our prospective partner countries while they employed higher tariffs against US goods and they were more lacks in initiating safety and environmental regulations which made their products cheaper on the world market.

Until Trump pulled the US out of the agreement, it would have involved 40% of the world’s economic production, larger than the European Common Market, and pointedly excluded China.  Now China is attempting to negotiate its own agreement with other Pacific Rim countries which will not include the United States. If successful this will not only increase their economic power, but also will also greatly enhance their political influence.

The United States may still remain the world’s only super power.  However, no longer can any one country dominate this interconnected world.  With world crisis like a nuclear ICBM equipped North Korea, aggressive military actions by Putin’s Russia, and others we can’t even foresee looming, we need dedicated allies by our sides, allies we are now pushing away.  I worry how much further our power and influence in the world will shrink in the next three and a half years.

Cajun     7/30/1017