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Trump Doctrine - In Office - 2017

It was called the Earth’s most watched election since World War II, one that will transform American policy and America’s position in the world. Analysts said the New York billionaire’s victory amounted to a seismic shift at a time when Washington’s relations with Russia are difficult, conflicts in Syria and Ukraine are still raging, the war on Islamic State militants is ongoing, China’s behavior is growing increasingly defiant and nationalistic, and hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees are on the move.

“What they see now is one candidate who seems to stand for a completely different view of America’s role in the world,” said Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator at the Financial Times. “I mean completely different, who repudiates rather specifically the alliance framework, the NATO framework in particular, who has repudiated America’s commitment to the liberal trade system that America created, the sort of open globalization America promoted, that seems to be in some ways more sympathetic to America’s historic enemies, like Russia, than it is to Europe”.

The president-elect seemed to have embraced impulsiveness as a strategy. The strategy can't have come as much of a surprise — Trump himself has been boasting about it for months, including during his first major foreign policy address in April 2016. "We must as a nation be more unpredictable. We are totally predictable. We tell everything. We're sending troops? We tell them. We're sending something else? We have a news conference," said Trump. He promised that under his administration, reliable patterns would end. "We have to be unpredictable," Trump said, waving his index finger in the air to make the point. "And we have to be unpredictable starting now."

On the eve of the final outcome of the US elections, when Hillary Clinton seemed to be winning, Russian media reported that Russian military command reviewed the readiness of the national nuclear bunkers, something not done for decades.

Trump advanced a narrow understanding of national benefit that mattered more than global leadership, global order or solidarity with allies. Trump rejected the traditional bi-partisan goals of strengthening the global leadership of the US and maintaining a US-centered world order. He refuted the core idea that dominated American thought over the past 70 years whereby American security, prosperity and power were inseparable from global leadership and the need to shape the whole world according to American values and vision.

Global trade is based on regulations layered on since the end of the World War II. It would be difficult to change some of the terms without setting off a domino effect of unintended consequences. Quitting the already moribund Trans-Pacific Partnership may be the easiest part of his pledge to remake global trade relationships and protect jobs. Supporters of multinational deals say they make it easier to raise labor and other standards, and that larger trading areas can attract reluctant countries to enter.

Trump made it clear in the withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on 25 January 2017 that he preferred negotiating trade deals with one country at a time. Some conservatives prefer bilateral pacts out of concern that multilateral deals can reduce the sovereignty of individual states. Trump's aides have also suggested they see a negotiating advantage in bringing maximum American leverage to bear on smaller partners one at a time. NAFTA could devolve into a pair of bilateral deals, one with Mexico and another with Canada. Trump was prepared to sacrifice US leadership in setting international rules and dominating global institutions, in order to make the US stronger internally.

The world's largest economy was walking away from a rule-based global trading system, a key component of the world economic order established in the post-war period. Multilateral trading mechanisms such as the World Trade Organization were built to level the playing field, increase trade for every participant, and manage trade disputes among all countries, whether big or small, before the same set of rights and obligations. The US was leaning toward unilateralism in trade and intended to adopt a more mercantilist and protectionist foreign policy. Bilateral FTAs could become the main foreign economic policy framework for the US outside the WTO.

Trump repudiated more than 75 years of a world economic order that took shape in the 1940s in Bretton Woods and Havana. But this order will remain in place, and so will the propensity for setting up mega-regional free-trade areas. China's Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is still in the making in East Asia (and now that the US has withdrawn from the TPP it can be created even faster).

Breitbart News reported 26 January 2017 that the administration of Donald Trump was preparing executive orders to minimize the role the US played in the UN and other international bodies, including organizations supporting the Palestinians or in which the Palestinian Authority has official representatives. One criteria is giving the Palestinian Authority or the Palestinian Liberation Organization full membership, or any organization that “is controlled or substantially influenced by any state that sponsors terrorism” or is blamed for the persecution of marginalized groups or any other systematic violation of human rights. The order called for a reduction of “at least 40 percent” in funding toward such organizations.

A second executive order, “Moratorium on New Multilateral Treaties,” calls for reviewing existing and pending treaties between the US and more than one other nation. The order asked for recommendations on which negotiations or treaties the US should abandon. Both orders called for reviewing funding that could go toward the International Criminal Court, even though the US does not currently provide any funding to that body.

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