Trump's Global America

This post was written by guest writer, Tyler Sauer. Tyler is currently an M.A. student in the Elliott School at George Washington University.  

The election is over and the votes are in.  Donald J. Trump will be the 45th President of the United States of America when he is sworn in on January 20th.

What does this mean for America’s place in the world?  Will President Trump pull the country back from its overseas commitments?  Will he follow through on his campaign promises to build a wall?  Will he lift sanctions on Russia?

The one thing we know for sure is that China won “bigly” on November 8th.

No longer does Beijing have to worry about the prospect of dealing with an experienced Hillary Clinton in the White House.   President Xi Jinping instead gets to work with a reality star who has openly called into question America’s commitment to its allies in the Asia-Pacific, drastically cutting down our standing in the region.

Additionally, Trump has pledged to take the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, within his first 100 days.  China will celebrate this announcement for years to come.  Beijing has already unveiled its own regional economic deals with the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and the One Belt, One Road Initiative.  The TPP was supposed to allow the United States to set the rules for integrated trade in the region.  Now, China will be the country to set the standards for trade and investment for the next generation.

Like energy, geopolitical power can neither be created nor destroyed; it is only transferred from one group to another.  The election of Donald Trump has all but ensured the transfer of some, but not all, of the United States’ geopolitical capital accumulated since the end of the Cold War.  If President Trump follows through on his promises to “Make America Great Again” by withdrawing from the world, renegotiating trade and climate pacts, and leaving former allies to fend for themselves, then countries like the growing China and a resurgent Russia will be more than happy to step into larger and more important roles on the global stage.

The Trump administration is not all doom and gloom, as some claim.  Yes, Donald Trump has no foreign policy experience, and that will directly hurt the United States’ position as a global leader.  And yes, fifty of the country’s leading Republican foreign policy officials signed a petition declaring Trump “would be the most reckless president in American history.”  These facts cannot be taken lightly, and they will have dire consequences for America’s future.

However, all is not lost.  The United States will not abdicate its position as the most well-armed, well-equipped country in the world.  After the election, stock prices for defense contractors rose in anticipation of an expected military build-up under the Trump administration.  Raytheon jumped 7.5%, Lockheed Martin rose nearly 6%, and General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman each added 5% to their stock prices.  President-elect Trump promised to implement a multi-billion-dollar plan to ‘rebuild’ the nation’s military. 

While this made for great applause-lines, his plan will likely face opposition in Congress from the left and the right.  Congressional Republicans want to reduce the budget deficit, and Democrats will be unlikely to allow for increased defense spending without commensurate increases to social welfare programs as well.

In the end, Trump’s campaign promises may not come to fruition, but the real damage is to the United States’ global reputation.  How much can our allies trust any future agreements with us when we show that we can elect someone as unqualified and uncommitted to the status quo as Donald Trump?

Welcome to Trump’s America.

 

Tyler Sauer received a BA from Western Michigan University in International Political Science and is currently an M.A. student in the Elliott School at the George Washington University studying Security Policy Studies, concentrating on Transnational Security Issues and U.S. National Security Issues. He focuses on U.S.-China relations and the Asia-Pacific. He also enjoys college football, and skydiving.