The Washington Post
By Paul Waldman
Image courtesy of Evan Vucci/Associated Press
Donald Trump likes to say that no president in American history accomplished as much in as short a time as he has, and in a few ways, he’s actually right. What other president could say that in less than nine months, they did this much damage to the future of American diplomacy?
Congratulations, Mr. President: America’s word is now practically worthless. And the damage will persist even after you’re gone.
Trump has already pulled us out of the Paris climate accord, which was agreed to by nearly every country on earth. It’s looking like he might pull out of NAFTA. Perhaps most dangerous of all — and against the obvious wishes of his entire national security team — he’s moving toward pulling out of the agreement we made in cooperation with China, Russia, Great Britain, France, Germany, and the European Union to restrain Iran’s nuclear weapons program. For the moment he is withholding certification of the deal and has proclaimed that it’s not in America’s interest as he sees it. Whether he pulls out completely will likely be a matter of how good his aides are at restraining his more lunatic impulses.
So imagine if a Democrat wins the White House in 2020, then tries to restore America’s place of leadership, which could involve agreements both with allies and adversaries. It would be perfectly rational for potential partners to say, “We accept your good faith, but how do we know that in four years your country won’t elect another ignorant halfwit TV personality who will cancel this agreement?”
I wish there were a good answer to that question.