Let’s regain the world’s trust by dumping Trump

Donald Trump is increasingly isolated on the world stage, as he was at the G20 summit in 2017.

What can Americans do to help the United States improve its standing around the world? Defeat Donald Trump on Nov. 3.

New data from the Pew Research Center show that 64% of people from 32 countries do not trust Trump to do the right thing in world affairs. In fact, Trump received the highest negative rating of any world leader in the survey. Russian President Vladimir Putin received a negative rating of 57%, slightly lower than Trump, and Chinese President Xi Jinping got a 43% negative rating. Trump received a positive rating of only 29%. Way to alienate the rest of the world, Donnie.

That 64% negative rating is roughly 10 points higher than the percentage of Americans who view Trump unfavorably. Trump’s U.S. disapproval numbers have hovered around 53% or 54%, give or take a few points, over the course of his presidency, according to aggregate polling from FiveThirtyEight. People around the world see a clearer picture of Trump than Trumpanistas looking through orange-colored glasses.

When it comes to these global numbers, you can’t blame the international survey respondents. Trump has cozied up to dictators, blustered his way through meetings with international leaders with little or no preparation, and isolated himself on the international stage …  and those are just a few examples of the havoc he has wrought.

His worst actions by far relate to multiple international agreements, such as the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Trump claims he wants to “renegotiate” the deal and make it better, but the broad terms he describes sound much like the pact negotiated by the Obama administration and five other European allies.

The 2015 deal was the first agreement Iran had made to limit its nuclear program. The deal froze Iran’s nuclear program for a decade in exchange for gradual sanctions relief and included new provisions for inspections of Iranian facilities, including military sites. Iran passed every inspection, completely meeting the terms of the nuclear deal, for years.

Once Trump pulled out of the pact in May 2018, constantly repeating too many lies about it to count, Iran resumed ramping up its nuclear program. Just look how safe Trump has made everything: In recent weeks alone, we’ve seen the escalation of the attack on the Green Zone in Baghdad, which housed the U.S. Embassy in Iraq; the U.S. assassination of Iranian Major Gen. Qassem Soleimani; retaliatory Iranian missile strikes on bases in Iraq that housed U.S. troops; and Iran “accidental” shooting down a Ukrainian commercial flight, killing all 176 people on board. Further, the death of Soleimani increases the likelihood that ISIS will regroup. After Iran announced on Jan. 5 that it would no longer be bound by the deal, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany triggered a dispute mechanism on Jan. 14, which could mean the return of United Nations sanctions against Iran. The whole world is justifiably fearful of what’s coming next.

CNN compiled a list of all of the agreements Trump has broken, threatened to leave, or made noises about renegotiating during his time in office. The decision to pull out of some of these pacts was made solely because they had been negotiated by the Obama administration, and Trump remains determined to undo the successes of his predecessor.

  • Pulled out. In August 2019, the U.S. officially withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which forced the U.S. and Russia (then the Soviet Union) to eliminate ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of about 300 to 3,400 miles. Trump claimed that the treaty puts the U.S. at a strategic disadvantage with China (as if he’d know the difference).
  • Pulled out. Trump kept a campaign promise to leave the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, which included nearly every country in the world and aims to curb the use of fossil fuels and to help mute the effects of climate change. Trump claimed that the treaty was “poorly negotiated” and officially announced the decision to pull out in November 2019. Although the Paris Climate Agreement is way too limited to have much of an effect on climate change, the good news is that the U.S. exit doesn’t become official until the day after the November election, and a new Democratic president can immediately jump back in the climate pact on his or her first day in office.
  • Pulled out. The 2016 Trans-Pacific Partnership. While the massive trade deal was never approved by Congress, its purpose was to counteract China’s economic power. Even without the U.S., the other 11 countries that are a part of the agreement have carried on. Trump pulled out by executive order in January 2017.
  • Pulled out. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley claimed that the 1946 United Nations Human Rights Council “wasn’t fair to Israel.” The real reason the U.S. left the 47-member body? In June 2018, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights slammed Trump’s policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border as “unconscionable.” The U.S. announced it was leaving the council a day later.
  • Pulled out. In another fit of pique about “anti-Israel bias,” the U.S. pulled out of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, in 2017. (The U.S. had done the same from 1984 through 2002.)
  • Threatened to pull out. Periodically, Trump threatens to pull out of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the World Trade Organization, although that’s often more bluster and talking off the top of his head. Still, vowing to leave a defense group like NATO — one of the most important alliances the U.S. is a part of — is not exactly the way to reassure allies around the world.
  • Pouted. Trump wants the Group of Seven, the association of industrialized countries, to readmit Russia, which was expelled after it forcibly annexed Crimea in 2014. Putin was ecstatic at the idea, but so far, there’s no interest in Russian readmission by the other nation-members.
  • Failed miserably. Trump launched his trade war with China with 25 percent tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods. China’s retaliatory tariffs have crippled U.S. farmers, caused a downturn in U.S. manufacturing, and raised prices for U.S. consumers. Periodically, Trump announces with much fanfare that there has been “progress” in the U.S-China trade talks, yet few of the details of that progress are made public. Trump and Chinese President Xi are set to sign “phase one” of a new agreement, but neither side has spelled out what’s in that agreement.
  • Renegotiated. The 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement has now been replaced by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. And no matter what Trump claims, it will always be known as NAFTA 2.0.

The Pew data show that exiting these various deals has hurt Trump’s standing in the world, but another equally negative factor is the unpopularity of his policies. Those policies include raising tariffs (68% negative), building a border wall with Mexico (60% negative), and allowing fewer immigrants into the U.S. (55% negative).

Why would officials in Iran — or any country, for that matter — want to sit down with Trump and think they would get a fair shake? Why should anyone trust him at all?

How is it possible that in some countries, Trump’s support has actually increased? Those countries reporting increased support are those with their own versions of Trump. Nations that skew toward favorable views of Trump feature more right-leaning, autocratic leaders and governments, such as Israel, the Philippines, Hungary, Spain, Brazil, and Poland.

The good news? Pew’s data show that 54% of those surveyed still have a favorable view of the U.S., despite the damage Trump has caused to America’s reputation worldwide. It’s on all of us to ensure that a new president is inaugurated a year from now — one who will re-establish the ties that Trump’s predecessors worked so hard to form around the world.

Originally posted on Daily Kos on Jan. 16, 2020.

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