The Trump administration had a successful foreign policy that managed to strengthen U.S. leadership within the framework of democracy, freedom and human rights, without having initiated a war.
In the face of threats to the West from dictatorships in China, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba, and Russia’s continued support for its anti-democratic allies, the Trump Administration played a key role in defending liberal (in the sense of the word outside the U.S.) values.
1. Middle East peace agreements
Joining President Donald Trump on September 15, 2020, at the White House, Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and UAE”s Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan signed the Abraham Accords that normalized relations between both the UAE and Bahrain with Israel.
It was the first time in more than a quarter of a century that Israel formalized diplomatic relations with an Arab country, the international press reported, “in its seven decades of existence, Israel had only established relations with two Arab countries, namely Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.”
In December 2020, Morocco announced that it had accepted a U.S.-led peace accord. The Moroccan foreign minister told reporters that his country agreed with the U.S. and Israel to “fully abide by the points of the agreement, as well as to support and defend them.”
Trump’s plans gained further momentum with Sudan’s announcement to become the fourth Arab state to normalize relations with Israel in January 2021.
According to the Associated Press, the overtures began in 2020 with the announcement that the African nation agreed to put $335 million into an escrow account to compensate U.S. victims of terrorist attacks.
The attacks include the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania by the Al-Qaeda network while its leader, Osama bin Laden, was living in Sudan.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned that the diplomatic agreement’s cornerstones are commercial cooperation with civil aviation and cooperation between the ministries of finance and communication. The visa waiver program has been delayed by Covid-19 and will begin in mid-2021.
2. Peace process in Aghanistan
On February 29, 2020, 18 years after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan to capture Osama bin Laden, the Trump Administration and Taliban chiefs “signed an agreement setting out a plan to withdraw U.S. troops and laying the groundwork for negotiating peace in the country” the BBC reported.
“We are working to finally end America’s longest war and bring our troops home.”Donald Trump
According to the BBC, the conflict has claimed the lives of more than 157,000 Afghans “including 43,000 civilians as well as displacing 2 million refugees.” The United States and its allies, for their part, have lost more than 3,000 soldiers, and in economic terms, the British media estimates that Washington has spent more than 2 billion dollars.
The Taliban’s commitment was entrenched with the visit of then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Qatar in late 2020. The Taliban is prepared to prevent “its members or any organization described as a terrorist organization from using Afghan territory to threaten the security of the United States or its allies.”
3. America’s strong policy against China
The Trump Administration denounced on January 19, 2021, that China commits genocide and crimes against humanity against religious minorities in Xinjiang.
Secretary Mike Pompeo reported in a statement the two U.S. determinations on the situation of Uyghurs and other members of ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.
The United States played a critical role in giving a voice to the victims. And it has been President Donald Trump’s administration that has taken the most forceful decisions against the regime. According to The New York Times, “the Trump Administration’s finding is the strongest denunciation by any government of China’s actions.”
Faced with the constant persecution of religious minorities in China, Tibet and Xinjiang by the Chinese Communist Party, the United States imposed sanctions during 2019 and 2020 against senior Bureau officials in Beijing, against companies linked to Chinese security and technology, and against diplomats in the United States, which increased tensions and forced the closure of the Chinese Consulate in Houston.
Due to Beijing’s interference in Hong Kong, where violations of freedom were committed, the Trump Administration made unprecedented decisions, such as sanctioning Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
4. Indo-Pacific security, and strenghthening Taiwan
Trump bet on strengthening his allies in the Pacific regarding security issues. In addition to visits by Secretary Pompeo and other senior officials to Asia, the Trump Administration’s commitment has been instrumental in countering the influence of the Chinese Communist Party.
Japan, France and the United States will conduct joint military drills on land and sea for the first time in May 2021, “strengthening and expanding the encirclement of China” reported Japanese media outlet Sankei.
On another front, high-level officials such as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar visited Taiwan, while Kelly Craft, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), advocated there, and in other political forums for engagement with Taiwan in efforts to combat the pandemic.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. was removing all restrictions on communications with Taiwan previously imposed by the State Department in an attempt to end the political discrimination that has been instituted against the island.
“Taiwan is a vibrant democracy and a reliable partner of the United States, and yet for several decades the State Department has created complex internal restrictions to regulate the interactions of our diplomats, service members and other officials with their Taiwanese counterparts.”Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State
In 2020 the Trump Administration approved arms sales to Taiwan for an estimated $18 billion, and in 2021 included the island in the budget bill for investments earmarked for trade, technology development, and military support.
5. Donald Trump is the first American president to visit North Korea
At the same time, the State Department reported that U.S. delegates met with South Korean officials to “reaffirm” U.S. support for inter-Korean cooperation and “continue” U.S. readiness to engage in meaningful dialogue with North Korea in pursuit of complete denuclearization.
Kurt Campbell, who President Biden chose as his “Indo-Pacific coordinator,” criticized Obama’s North Korea policy for the “delay in acting on Pyongyang that prevented any possibility of engagement.”
However, according to the press, Campbell has praised the Trump Administration’s “extraordinarily bold strides” on North Korea diplomacy.
Analysts agree that Trump’s work in North Korea remained purely in the diplomatic arena, as Pyongyang increased its military nuclear arsenal during the Republican Administration, according to media reports.
Trump’s key achievement was to manage to “open the channels of dialogue,” leaving open the possibility for President Biden to resume talks. According to analysts, this breakthrough is relevant because the Obama Administration, on the other hand, put North Korea on the brink of war with the United States.
Camilo Bello is a consultant focused on Asia Pacific studies and has experience in strategic management. He has studied law in Colombia and is currently pursuing studies in language and history at National Taiwan Normal University. He has collaborated with Students for Freedom in Hong Kong and Taiwan // Camilo es consultor enfocado en estudios de Asia Pacífico y experiencia en gestión estratégica. Cuenta con estudios en Derecho en Colombia y actualmente se encuentra realizando estudios en lenguaje e historia en National Taiwan Normal University. Colaborador de Estudiantes por la Libertad en Hong Kong y Taiwán