Washington, D.C. is rapidly losing its international legitimacy and all credibility due to President Donald Trump's disrespectful treatment of allies and international commitments.
Tuesday's long-expected decision by Trump to withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), not only hurt U.S. credibility, but also came about despite the concerted lobbying by close allies Germany, the U.K. and France against its rescinding.
The real disconcerting fact about Tuesday's decision was that it was just the latest in a long list of aggressive foreign policy decisions by the U.S. administration that ran counter to its allies' interests.
First came Trump's decision to withdraw from the U.N. sponsored Paris climate accord, the only country to do so.
He withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement by saying the agreement disadvantaged the U.S. "to the exclusive benefit of other countries," which struck a major blow to worldwide efforts to combat climate change, distancing the country from many allies abroad. The accord aims to curb man-made greenhouse gas emissions to levels that the forests and oceans of the world can naturally absorb.
He also refused to restate the U.S. commitment to NATO's Article 5, which obligates every member to come to each other's aid in case of war, at a NATO summit in Brussels in May of last year. A few weeks later, he begrudgingly committed the U.S. to Article 5, after serious pressure from his own officials. Still, his failure to do so previously raised many questions about his administration's commitment to the alliance.
Trump often criticizes NATO members, urging all allies to increase their defense expenditures to 2 percent of each countries' national income by 2024.
As part of an implicit trade war with the world's second economic power, China, Trump also declared his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the long-negotiated Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement, which was one of his first actions after assuming office on Jan. 20, 2017.
The original 12-member agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was thrown into limbo early last year when Trump withdrew from the deal just three days after his inauguration in a bid to protect U.S. jobs. The 11 remaining nations, led by Japan and Canada, finalized a revised trade pact in January, and signed in March.
Trump also pushed his North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners to renegotiate the agreement, threatening Mexico and Canada with punitive commercial measures. He threatened to dump NAFTA unless the other two members of the pact agree to provisions that Trump says would boost U.S. manufacturing and employment. The U.S. President argued that the 1994 accord has caused the migration of jobs and factories southward to lower-cost Mexico.
Washington's traditional allies, EU countries, also got their share from Trump's contentious protectionism. The U.S. President threatened EU countries with trade measures, criticizing German cars and so forth, in an effort to cut down trade deficits.
In March, he announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to the U.S., and the EU on Friday published a list of American products it plans to introduce duties on if it is not exempted from the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs. Germany and other EU nations have argued that they follow fair trade practices and suggested that the real problem lies with China's overproduction in recent years. Following Trump's decision, German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended the country's trade surplus, saying the government is working to encourage domestic demand but that not all factors are under its control.
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