America is Strong Again
Despite the apprehensions over how President Trump would handle the international community, with his unpredictability being quite unlike anything the nation has seen since Richard Nixon’s “madman theory,” he has - not surprisingly - proven all of the skeptics wrong. Despite fears that he would maintain a more isolationist world view in comparison to past presidents, President Trump has instead proven that America can indeed be strong without becoming over-involved around the world. He has proven that America has never lost its potential to be a world leader, but in a smart and sensible way.
Just like President Reagan, President Trump has gone to great lengths to seek out world leaders who share his outlook, and cooperate as closely with them as possible for the good of the international community. Nowhere is this more evident than in his policy toward the Eastern European countries. In his iconic speech to the Polish people in Warsaw, President Trump took on perhaps the grandest issue of our time head-on: The future of Western Civilization as we know it. He spoke in bold terms of the West as a society, as a united people, and as a specific set of values and ideals that have worked and will continue to work, through the undying will of a free people. Speaking to the same nations that had once been the captives of the anti-Western empire of the Soviet Union, President Trump rallied the free men and women of the Western World into standing up against evil from all sides, to defend their civilization for future posterity.
At the same time, the President instituted a very sensible and specific policy fr further aiding our Eastern European allies: Tying in American energy policy with Eastern European diplomacy in order to counter Russia’s energy monopoly on the region. Although he did not mention Russia by name, the reference was clear when President Trump talked about the region being under the control of a single large country’s energy supply due to reliance on Russia’s oil exports. Now, the Trump Administration is overseeing vast expansion of American energy production, unlike anything the nation has seen before. Not only is this more than enough to draw America closer and closer to energy independence, but it will also eventually lead to America becoming, as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke calls it, “energy dominant.” As a result of this, America has already surpassed Russia as the world’s leading exporter of natural gas, and President Trump’s vow to Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe promises to end Russia’s monopoly on the region once and for all; Russia is weakened, while the United States - and its alliances with all of these like-minded countries - will be strengthened.
Communism in Latin America
In another key reversal of a failed Obama-era policy, President Trump quickly reversed the so-called “Cuban Thaw” and returned to a stance of strict sanctions on the Communist nation. In the rally where he made this declaration, the President did not hold back in his criticisms of the vicious regime in Cuba, where the scourge of Communism has ruined the nation and smothered its people. He introduced several Cuban refugees as a display of those everyday people whose lives were ruined by the Communist regime. At the same time, the Trump Administration has been just as tough on another major Communist regime in the region: the dictatorship of Venezuela. In addition to increasing sanctions against the country, the President even made the country a signature focus of the second version of his travel ban, implemented in September.
In criticizing both Cuba and Venezuela, the President has also made the American stance on Socialism and Communism as crystal-clear as it could possibly be, with language that would make Ronald Reagan quite proud. In the rally on Cuba, Trump correctly asserted that “Communism has destroyed every single nation where it has ever been tried.” And in his speech to the United Nations, the President famously declared that “the problem with Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.” In the aftermath of the Cold War, the specter of Communism may be nothing more than just that; but the few remaining, struggling Communist nations in the world must nevertheless be addressed and criticized with the same passion as Reagan and Nixon, in order to fully eradicate this dying menace from the planet. Donald Trump understands this implicitly.
North Korea and China
President Trump has proven that we should not be afraid to use even tougher rhetoric against the rogue state of North Korea. When the regime in North Korea - understanding the message behind the Syrian airstrike - began its usual grandstanding and tough talk, the President did not just condemn it as past Presidents did; he upped the ante and punched back, twice as hard. After several more illegal missile tests, President Trump responded with the now-iconic “fire and fury” speech. Anyone who watches the video can tell from his expression that they are not just empty words, but fighting words from an angry leader of the free world. He turned the ordeal from a blame game to a staring contest. Eventually, he proved how easy it was to back North Korea into a corner; when Kim Jong-Un made a direct threat to bomb the U.S. territory of Guam, the President vowed swift retaliation by declaring that military solutions were “locked and loaded.” As a result of this, North Korea finally backed down and announced that it would not be firing missiles towards Guam. In a standoff that has since been compared to the Cuban Missile Crisis, Trump won decisively.
In the aftermath of winning the rhetorical battle, President Trump knew exactly how to enact long-term, substantive solutions to the North Korea problem. Most notably, he managed to perfectly flip the script on all previous understandings of the Chinese-North Korean dynamic, with just a simple bit of wordplay. As Dilbert creator Scott Adams has pointed out, the President changed the narrative of the United States fighting North Korea, with China as an ominous ally of the rogue state in the background, instead into a narrative that China is incapable of controlling North Korea, and only the United States - under his leadership - can succeed where China failed. This simple rhetorical battle immediately put all the pressure on China to prove that it was capable of standing up to North Korea itself; this eventually manifested itself in the form of China imposing its own sanctions against their neighbor to the southeast, as well as voting in favor of sweeping sanctions from the UN - two feats that, prior to Trump, were thought impossible on China’s part.
In what just may be his best speech so far, President Trump made it explicitly clear to the leaders of the world just what exactly the Trump Doctrine stands for. He emphasized his desire to have America lead by example first and foremost, not by force; to build a country and an international community which sets such a strong example that, ideally, many other countries will desire to follow it willingly, rather than be forced to do so. At the same time, he reaffirmed the crucial right of sovereignty for all individual nations, with cultures and goals that may differ drastically from nation to nation, as they pursue whatever is best for their people first and foremost.
Aside from criticizing the usual antagonistic rogue states (Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela), he also called out the wrongdoings of larger nations, from Russia’s meddling in the Ukraine to China’s overreach in the South China Sea. But at the same time, he was also capable of giving credit where credit was due in regards to those same nations’ efforts to fight other problems on the international stage, such as Middle Eastern terrorism and North Korean provocation.
And most importantly of all, he directly criticized the major flaws with the United Nations itself. From the gross overpayment by the United States in comparison to the rest of the world (as the U.S. funds about 22% of the UN’s overall budget), to the presence of dictatorships and human rights violators on the Human Rights Council, the President did not hold back in pointing out everything that plagued the institution itself, declaring that parts of it had been hijacked and abused by the very nations it should be trying to stop. He would eventually prove his determination to right these wrongs, or else present the UN with dire consequences, with his aforementioned decision to pull the United States out of UNESCO - a move that Israel soon followed. His tough words were backed up by tough action, and the UN Human Rights Council is undoubtedly the next target on President Trump’s list.
This speech, most simply and effectively, was a balancing act: International involvement and sovereignty; criticism and praise; small rogue states and corrupt larger states. He covered all bases and never skipped a beat.
The Greatest Achievement
Through all of this, there is one major area of the world that has proven - for decades, even centuries - to be a problematic region for international diplomacy. It is an area that has tripped up many a world leader in the past, including former U.S. Presidents. Yet the Trump Doctrine has even been able to wrangle in this particular region, and take multiple big steps towards real progress and change like never seen before.
What is this area, that provides the greatest success of the Trump Doctrine? That achievement shall be covered in the coming follow-up article.