The Trump administration is engaged in an “abdication” of US global leadership, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations argued Tuesday night, saying the US “chose to walk away” from key institutions and alliances.
Richard Haass, who was a State Department official during the George W. Bush administration, broke down President Donald Trump’s foreign policy one year into his administration on “Anderson Cooper 360.”
“I don’t see this administration as isolationist,” Haass said, citing military strikes in Syria and Afghanistan. “The reason I use the word ‘abdication’ is what they’ve done is unilaterally — it wasn’t forced on them — they chose to walk away from many of the institutions, frameworks, introduce questions into alliances that have really formed or informed American foreign policy now for nearly three quarters of a century.”
Haass continued, “What’s so interesting, what’s really unprecedented, it wasn’t because we don’t have the capacity. We’re still the world’s strongest economy, the world’s strongest military. We’ve essentially decided in many cases that we simply don’t think it’s worth it, that we don’t want to do it anymore. I think that’s flawed. It’s based on a real misreading of the costs and benefits of US leadership.”
Haass argued that “in the short run” it’s made US allies “less reliant on us, thinking more about how they have to carry out their own foreign policy” and that “it’s diminished respect for us.” He cited Trump’s decision to walk away from the Paris climate agreement and to spike the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
“Now I think there are bigger issues about what is this United States? What is your DNA? And much less confidence about what it is we’re prepared to do in the world,” Haass said.
The former diplomat also noted that “people forget US foreign policy is not something conducted simply by the US military or by diplomats.”
“Everything we do, everything we are as a society, as an economy, sends a message, sets an example. So, Charlottesville, that’s foreign policy. When the economy grows, that’s foreign policy. When we have high levels or sustained levels of unemployment, that’s also foreign policy.”