CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx

Issue in foreign Policy


Are America's International Commitments trustworthy?


Since the inception of his term as the 45th President of the United States of America, Donald Trump has been a favourite of the media. Be his kooky Tweets that take the internet by storm or his determined approach towards putting America first, Trump sure knows how to catch the eyeballs of both world leaders and the public alike. In the past few months, Trump went a step ahead to shake the world by his strong messages of 'America First' policy. In the same regard, the global power landscape saw America pull out of important international agreements and compliances; most of which were the brainchild of former president Barack Obama. The international deals and accords that were signed after years of negotiations with the other key players of the deals were broken off by Trump by just a signature. USA had always been the backbone for most of these deals and the resignation of the state from such accords was termed unfortunate but not surprising by analysts. 

Though many blame Trump and his erratic functioning for these actions, even in the past USA holds a record of either not signing or not ratifying important agreements like the Geneva Agreement of 1954, International Labour Convention in 1949, Convention on the Rights of Child, 1989 (USA is the only country in the world to not have ratified this convention) among others. But the recent past is a proof of America's overconfidence in itself. By tweeting infamous statements on his counterparts and pulling out of agreements of high international importance like the Paris Peace Accord, Iran deal, Trans-Pacific Program and even the United Nations Human Rights Council, Trump seems to put his foot forward that anything that does not fall in line with what he has thought for his country or his allies, will be eliminated.  

Paris Agreement 

The Paris agreement is an extended arm of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate (UNFCC) agreed upon on 2015 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. In 2016, the USA signed this accord under Barack Obama to pledge for working towards lowering its CO2 emissions since China and the USA are the leading emitters. The Paris Accord is not an international law; it is but a non binding accord that commits its member countries to take both proactive and reactive steps to keep the increase in global increase in average temperature below 2° above pre-industrial levels.

On June 1, 2017, Trump issued an official statement stating withdrawal from this agreement. According to Trump, "Global warming was not a real thing" and "the accord was unfair to the US at the highest level since $3 trillion in lost GDP and over 6.5 million jobs". Even back in 2012 before the Paris Accord was signed, Trump had tweeted that he believed the concept of global warming was started by China in order to bind America into regulations and hence cut down on American competiveness. 

Thus, it was clear right from the start that Trump is not one to believe in climate changes. As of now, USA is the only UNFCC signatory who is not a part of this accord; even Syria and Nicaragua signed last year. Even during his 2016 Presidential Elections, Trump had pledged to exit from the Paris Accord since "it undermines the US economy and puts the US at a permanent disadvantage."  

Though the implications of pulling out of this deal may not be as vast since the automobile industry in the US will still have to follow the international gas safety emission levels in order to be imported to other countries but the US pulling out will definitely lead to a cash crunch for this accord. Furthermore, the US will gain more emission space and less mitigation costs now while the emission space for the other members will be drastically reduced.  

Iran Deal   

The Iran Deal was an agreement in 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 nations under which The Republic of Iran was supposed to redesign and convert its nuclear assets in exchange of removal of all nuclear based economic sanctions by the world powers. The deal was reached by the Obama government after three years of negotiations and was supposed to keep a check on the growing power and risks from Iran's nuclear program. As part of the deal, there was a sunset clause inculcated under which Iran's ability to produce nuclear fuel for civilian use would end by 2030 i.e. 15 years after the deal was signed. Backing on this clause, Trump is of the opinion that this deal was time bound and would not bind Iran after 15 years.  

Israel and USA's allies in the Middle East have lauded this step by Trump to pull out of the deal. All of them which are against the clerical government regime of Iran believe that with the USA out of the deal, they were free to impose as many economic and trade sanctions on Iran as possible in order to break the government. While Obama was of the view that the new generations of Iranians were more like the West and hence deserved a chance, Trump believes that Iran could not be stopped "under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement."  

The USA plans to reimpose sanctions on oil and increase sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran. The USA has gone ahead in its mission of completely alienating Iran from trading with other countries as well by asking countries dependent on Iranian oil to cut its ties with Iran or face the similar fate by the US. Under the new provision, European companies have 90-180 days to close down their business with Oran or see their names in black in the American banking system.   

While America's European allies fear that this will let Iran to move forward with its nuclear plans with no checks, Trump believes that Iran knows that if it proceeds to construct any weapons, a military action by Israel, USA and Saudi Arabia was inevitable. The US believes that by imposing sanctions, it will break Iran's economy to such an extent that it will have no other choice but to comply with them, the same trend he used with North Korea recently.  

United Nations Human Resource Council   

On June 19, 2018 the US informed the UNHRC about its plans of withdrawal from the organisation responsible for protecting human rights across the world, making it the latest withdrawal of the US from an important international organisation. Calling the institution "a poor defender of human rights", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the UN Ambassador from the US, Nikki Haley said that UNHRC "once had a noble vision" but now seems to have lost its cause.  

Fighting for the unfair treatment given to Israel, USA's closest ally, by the institution on a number of occasions, the US is upset about the integration of countries as members like China, Republic of Congo etc which it believes represses human rights the most.   

"We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights," Nikki Haley was quoted as saying. Praising this decision of the US to defend actual rights, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office called the US decision "courageous". Ironically USA's statement to withdraw from the UNHRC came a day after Trump announced his decision to separate immigrant kids from their parents at the Mexico border.  

USA was one of the major influencers in organisations of the UN but by this move, it will lose its spot to channel the UNHRC towards achieving bigger goals. This would also mean that China despite being a regressive country for Human Rights could be a potential leader for the organisation.  

G-7

The most recent case of America First Policy saw Trump threatening the other economically advanced countries to withdraw from the powerful G-7. Upset with heavy taxes levied on the US by the EU and Canada, America believes that being a part of the G-7 puts unnecessary strain on its economy. Refusing to sign the joint statement prepared by Canada, the major disagreement in the meeting was about US imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, which Trump called retaliation to 270% import on dairy products by Canada. The US President went ahead to call Justin Trudeau a meek and dishonest man.

During the course of the meet Trump also raised the issue of including Russia, which was earlier kicked out citing its annexation of Crimea, and forming the G-8, something that didn't go well with the other leaders. Trump also arrived late and left early in order to host North Korea in the historic summit at Singapore, a move that was judged to show the importance of G-7 for Trump. As of now, the USA has threatened other members to 'not push around USA' and include changes in the joint statement if they want America to cooperate.

Conclusion  

Working on same lines, last year Trump also pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Program that included 11 other countries which lie around the Pacific Rim. The reason was same; Trump felt that the job security and economy of his country would lower if America was to be a part of such multi-lateral deals. This shows how no amount of international commitments and years of cooperation on deals stood in front of the America First policy for Trump. These recent activities have also raised questions on America's integrity and respect for long standing international agreements. By showing its disregard to most of them, Trump might be able to self-sustain America momentarily but in this world Diaspora, no country can function alone. By portraying itself as unworthy of trust, America is digging it own grave. Though right now it may be the world's leading economy but the in a world where trade manages most of a country's treasury, upsetting other world leaders would not work in America's favour in the long run. By pulling out of deals of international importance, the USA clearly sends a strong message; that it considers its duty towards America of utmost importance while its duty towards the other nations remains optional. This has lead to America losing its credibility on the global platform with each step.

Citation:  

Al Jazeera (June, 2018). 'US withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council: What you need to know'. Retrieved on July 14, 2018 from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/withdrawal-human-rights-council-180620060224309.html  

Business Standard (June, 2018). 'Trump pulls out of G7 Joint Statement.' Retrieved on July 16, 2018 from https://www.business-standard.com/article/international/trump-pulls-out-of-g7-joint-statement-calls-trudeau-weak-and-dishonest-118061000341_1.html  

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