The editors of the Wall Street Journal analyze President Trump’s foreign policy initiatives:
First, the good news: Mr. Trump signed a pair of Congressional bills that support Hong Kong’s cry of freedom. The signature showed that America is unified behind the autonomy that China guaranteed the territory in its treaty with Britain. Hong Kongers responded by waving American flags in the street in a reminder that the U.S. still represents the hope of liberty to millions around the world.
China huffed and puffed, with a Foreign Ministry factotum calling it “serious interference in China’s internal affairs and a serious violation of international law.” The audience for that bluster is the domestic Chinese public. The Communist Party needs to blame Hong Kong’s homegrown protests on outside interference lest citizens in the Mainland get the idea that they need more liberty too.
But note that China isn’t letting the Hong Kong bills interfere with trade negotiations with Mr. Trump. Chinese President Xi Jinping will agree to a trade deal that he thinks is in his interests no matter how many American flags are waving in Hong Kong. Mr. Trump can also follow a two-track strategy of negotiating a better trading relationship with China while representing American values by speaking up for freedom in Hong Kong and China.
Meanwhile, the bad news in North Korea is that Kim Jong Un is acting up again by firing missiles and reiterating a deadline of year’s end for a deal with Mr. Trump over its nuclear program. Mr. Kim wants to coax Mr. Trump into easing sanctions. The implication of these small-scale shows of military force is that Mr. Kim could resume firing intercontinental missiles that could hit the U.S. and make Mr. Trump’s claims of diplomatic progress look like a failure.
when you include Afghanistan, the not yet ratified trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, and the ongoing war in Syria, IMO the most optimistic possible assessment is an “Incomplete”. I suspect that the Chinese and North Koreans expect Trump to be gone in either 2020 or, at the latest, 2021 so I would not expect positive developments on those fronts in the foreseeable future.
There are some other negatives among which I would include support for the Saudi war against Yemen. On the positive side DAESH’s caliphate is no more and DAESH itself is much diminished. See also the report from the Council on Foreign Relations, which gives him an overall D+.
Disruption is hard.