The final debate had Donald Trump making outlandish claims about a lot of things - the economy, his stature as an egalitarian leader, anti-discriminatory approaches, the handling of COVID-19, and much more. But this is nothing new. For one, he’s always been quite a man for exaggeration, loving every minute of using superlatives and crashing right into media with this. An example would be his confidence in the last four year’s diplomatic ‘wins’. Of course, the UAE-Bahrain-Israel deal is being celebrated as a cherry on the top, but there have been a lot more slumps that it appears premature to be overwhelmed by this act of mediation.
If we go one step ahead and be a little ‘unkind’ to the POTUS – while also being politically and practically correct – we can say that the deal was bound to happen, with or without tactical mediation and regardless of who mediated. The times are changing, either side was keen on working their already discreet partnership slowly into the spotlight, and the right opportunity popped up when the pandemic struck. A multipolar world demands such cooperation. Therefore, we can’t reserve all credit for Trump, Jared Kushner, or Mike Pompeo – a great part of it must be attributed to the year as well. This process, fortunately for Trump, happened to culminate now, thus becoming his to applaud for.
At the same time, on turning our attention to Afghanistan, we see some faulty conclusions being drawn in America’s hurry to withdraw troops, dust its hands off, and retreat once and for all. Taliban, the very terror outfit that had threatened global peace and continues to do so, has taken up the banner for politics and seeks to collaborate with the current leadership for the same. But among all the aims that America had at the time of initiating negotiations with the Taliban, only one has thoroughly been followed through the course and that is the withdrawal of troops. There has been unnecessary wavering on others like putting an end to the Taliban’s ties with terror groups or successfully engaging leaders in intra-Afghan talks.
Without a clear agreement being reached concerning several issues like security, education, and women’s rights, the decision to bring back the American troops could backfire and end up being an impediment instead. Primarily, for Trump, the withdrawal is a method of fast-tracking the declaration of diplomatic success in Afghanistan before the election. But nearly twenty years of engagement in the Asian country cannot come to an abrupt end without ticking off every box in the list of things that the Americans began – a half-done job is unethical. Talking of ethics, a similar draconian attitude is being flaunted by the administration now by strengthening its sanctions against Iran. It has been noted that the sanctions do little to make Iran yield to American demands or control its usage of nuclear energy. Given this track record of inaction, it does little to further rely on the same failed method. Further, the sanctions also critically endanger the medical response in Iran. It’s high time to consider alternatives and move away from a ‘sanctions regime’.
Adding to these questionable achievements and aggressive diplomacy is the administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. The constant bickering over multilateral institutions and casual threats of withdrawing support for these too make matters worse.
These not only put the country at a disadvantageous position of isolationism, but also disrupts the entire global political order. Move a single cog in this system and all formulae will need rebuilding from scratch.
One word would be enough to capture the Trump foreign policy: puerility. Better still would have been the administrative performance of a child.