America’s greatest foreign policy strengths are its ability to create strong and lasting alliances economically, militarily, politically, and democratically. We’ve a critical part of such organizations as NATO, NORAD, the UN, numerous free trade agreements, and treaties that we believe are just and fair and moral.
However, countries from Venezuela to Vietnam and South Africa to Greece are questioning whether it’s worth it to form economic ties with us, to work with us militarily, to trust our expertise in how to continue providing the world with greater and greater prosperity, and indeed to trust us to do right by them.
With that, there are six key areas we all need to work on to be sure America can continue to dominate the world stage so that we can continue to do what we know is right.
As mentioned, the United States is a member of numerous international organizations, as are many countries, but the United States seems to have a very disproportionate influence on the direction of these organizations. Some of these positions won’t likely change anytime soon, like our permanent position on the UN Security Council. However, Trump has angered many NATO countries, and we need to maintain strong ties with NATO countries. An attack on one is an attack on all, but the way you feel about someone is always going to dictate your actions more than the terms of a contract ever could.
The United States is also a member of organizations you’d never think it’d be a part of. They are a “nonregional” member of APEC in Asia, a “dialogue” partner in ASEAN, and an “observer” in many more. It doesn’t take much to understand why we’re able to stay so involved: we have the power to broker agreements between member nations and additional countries around the world, we have the money to invest, and we have the unbelievable military strength to assure the member countries that they can accomplish their goals without interference from nations that wish to harm them.
Several countries around the world are questioning whether democracy is the best system of government. Venezuela is now a dictatorship. Several years ago, Greece elected Alexis Tspiras, whose has shown an interest in a cordial relationship with Russia. The government of Pakistan is technically democratic but seems not operate as such. Despite our ability to form symbiotic relationships with many countries, 75% of Pakistani citizens in 2012 responded to a poll by saying that they wouldn’t vote for either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney for President of the United States. The Pakistani government dislikes us even more and believes that the Chinese government offers substantial benefits for them. Their citizens are now required to learn Mandarin, and China is claiming to offer numerous economic benefits.
Our ability to encourage countries to let democracy flourish and let their people decide their own fate has often been tied to our influence over certain countries more than our influence in certain countries. At least that’s how some of those countries see it, and more and more, they are questioning whether they could break away from conditional agreements they have with the United States. We offer relief packages, loans, military assets, and infrastructure in exchange for allowing their people to have more freedom. However, the balance between encouragement and over implementation has sometimes left them to manage their young democracies without much control from the United States. That was seen as a good approach because we shouldn’t be controlling them, but they’ve come to believe that we tore their countries into pieces and left without helping them implement democratic rule. While I certainly disagree in most cases, what matters most is they are seeking other systems of government and are often finding that a reversion to dictatorship is more palatable and more realistic for them, claiming they aren’t ready for democracy because it would be too chaotic.
As a result, these countries are eschewing influence from the United States as much as possible, and they have found a great alternative in Asia. The Chinese Communist Party is claiming to offer money with no strings attached. This is a cruel lie with all its burdensome loans that bankrupt taxpayers for generations, but China focuses on smaller countries that the United States has abandoned due to questionable human rights records and violent dictatorships.
Donald Trump is promising to ignore these countries even more, and they are leaving us left and right. Many are saying that our influence on the international community will not hold throughout his entire administration, and we’ve seen already that countries in Western Europe have signed economic agreements with China, hedged their bets by joining organizations with both the United States and China, and openly denounced the United States as a result of Trump’s actions and behavior.
The problem here is that dictatorship centralizes power and allows a foreign country to have immense influence quickly and painlessly because there are no elections to stop them. As a result, China can quickly convert Venezuela into a country that does whatever China wants it to do, which will be a major national security concern for the United States, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Without the power of the people, a foreign power can quickly influence an entire nation.