Until last June it seemed that the United States and its allies were heading towards a period of relative predictability in the world’s trouble spots. Since then unexpected changes in a number of countries has meant that the previous status quo is no longer valid and that the United States and its European allies must build a new relationship that may not be as easy as it once was. In fact, Donald Trump’s transition period will face unexpected challenges from abroad.
European Union and US changes
The first major change occurred in June when British Prime Minister David Cameron’s challenge to rebels in his Conservative Party led him to call the Brexit Plebiscite which seemed to be a foregone conclusion.
Its unexpected defeat not only meant that the United Kingdom will soon begin negotiations for its withdrawal from the European Union, but also with Theresa May as the country’s Prime Minister replacing Cameron after his resignation and the unorthodox Boris Johnson the new Foreign Minister.
The second challenge major challenge comes from the changes of various heads of governments in Europe that will certainly affect the EU and its relations with the incoming American administration. The principle changes come from the French President’s Francois Hollande’s decision not to contest the next presidential election and the resignation of Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi after the recent referendum loss and his replacement by previous Foreign Minster Paolo Gentiloni. All eyes will now be directed to the upcoming German elections with Angela Merkel seeking a fourth term as Chancellor. Her loss would mean a European Union not only without the UK but also with a relatively inexperienced leadership team.
The third factor to this situation was, of course, Trump’s election victory which leaves the United States with a President with no previous diplomatic or government experience.
While he himself publicly states he is up to the task the delicate international stage means that his choice of Secretary of State will be of prime importance. It will be up to the Senate to ensure that the person nominated is more than suited to the importance of the task.
All these changes occur in a period of increasing diplomatic aggression by #Russia which is affecting various parts of the world beginning in the Middle East and particularly in Syria. To these matters must be added the accusations of Russian interference in the American presidential race which, if proven, have the potential of causing a crisis between the two superpowers. These accusations must not be left unresolved as they have the potential of undermining the new President both domestically and internationally during any negotiations with Vladimir Putin..
In addition, #china’s apparent expansionism in the South China Sea is a cause for worry for many Asian countries that see their borders under threat by Peking’s behavior. Without forgetting the recalcitrant behavior of Kim Jong-Un in North Korea that is the jolly in the pack for Asian politics. These developments will affect many of America’s major trading powers as well as its foreign policy.
Home and abroad
All these factors will require leadership by the United States that is not simply strong, but also particularly masterful in dealing with the intricacies of language that both the Russians and the Chinese use in their foreign relations. Every word and every action must be weighed carefully and any American reaction to the behavior of its major rivals must consider every possible interpretation of any declarations by Russia and China for rarely do negotiations at these levels use direct simple language.
These circumstances affect the whole world and not simply the United States and Trump must not make the mistake of thinking that his priorities can be limited only to domestic issues. #Donald Trump