Even before he defunded the World Health Organization, Donald Trump had done much to damage U.S. ties with allies.
Donald Trump's decision Tuesday to stop U.S. funds from going to the World Health Organization in the middle of a pandemic is the latest in a long series of actions that have isolated the United States from the rest of the world.
Since Trump took office, he has alienated allies by withdrawing from agreements and breaking treaties on issues ranging from climate change to national security.
In January 2017, three days after being sworn in, Trump withdrew the United States from the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. The agreement had been negotiated by the Obama administration in 2016, but had not been submitted to the Senate for ratification.
Trump called the deal "a rape of our country."
The other countries involved in the agreement — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam — negotiated a new agreement without the United States in 2018.
Iran nuclear deal
Trump announced in May 2018 that he would pull the United States out of a multicountry treaty designed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The United States, France, Germany, Britain, China, Russia, and Iran had reached the deal in 2015.
"There is consistent incoherence in the policy which certainly unnerves our allies and partners," former CIA Director John Brennan said of Trump's actions, adding that his decision "is not just foolish — this is dangerous."
Trump promised for years to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, which was ratified in 2015 by nearly 200 nations.
In November 2019, Trump officially submitted paperwork to the United Nations to withdraw, making the United States the first and only country to do so. The withdrawal will officially take place one day after the 2020 presidential election.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, said he will rejoin the Paris agreement if he becomes president.
Withdrawing from NATO "would destroy 70-plus years of painstaking work across multiple administrations, Republican and Democratic, to create perhaps the most powerful and advantageous alliance in history," Michèle Flournoy, a defense official who served under President Barack Obama, told the New York Times in 2019. "And it would be the wildest success that Vladimir Putin could dream of."
In response to a potential Trump move, Congress added language to a 2019 defense bill to prohibit Trump from using any funds "to terminate, suspend, or file notice of withdrawal for the United States from NATO."
In June 2018, Trump attacked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over trade policy and tried to undo an agreement among leaders of the G-7 group of industrial nations. The United States has been a member of the groups since the mid-1970s.
"Based on Justin's false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!" Trump tweeted after he left the G-7 summit that month.
Months later, BuzzFeed News reported that the State Department ignored Trump's request and that the United States was still a signatory on the communique.
Trump's trade war with China demonstrated that "when in doubt, Trump goes the way of confrontation," Jürgen Matthes of the German Economy Institute told Politico in 2019.
In October 2019, Trump withdrew American forces from northern Syria, giving Turkey the green light to launch an invasion against America's Kurdish allies in the region.
Trump's abandonment of longtime U.S. allies who were helping in the fight against ISIS terrorists drew bipartisan rebukes from Congress as well as from European allies.
"The decision to abandon the Kurds violates one of our most sacred duties: It strikes at American honor," Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said in mid-October.
"We deeply regret the decision of the President of United States to withdraw American troops from northeastern Syria which marks another landmark in the change of American foreign policy in the Near and Middle East," lawmakers from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Parliament wrote in an October letter. "We consider the abandonment of the Syrian Kurds to be wrong."
World Health Organization
On Tuesday, Trump announced he would stop U.S. funding for the WHO, falsely accusing the organization of covering up the spread of the novel coronavirus at the center of the pandemic.
"Now is a time for unity in the global battle to push the COVID-19 pandemic into reverse, not a time to cut the resources of the [WHO], which is spearheading and coordinating the global body's efforts," U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement on Tuesday.
Trump's decision "is deeply regrettable," Moussa Faki Mahamat, chair of the African Union Commission, tweeted. "Today more than ever, the world depends on WHO's leadership to steer the global #Covid_19 pandemic response. Our collective responsibility to ensure WHO can fully carry out its mandate, has never been more urgent."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.