Donald Trump is addicted to dramatic announcements, and he’s had a bunch. He killed the Trans-Pacific Partnership on his first day in office. He’s weakened ties with Europe and trashed NATO. He’s cozied up with autocrats and given short shrift to our usual democratic allies. He’s focused all of his attention in Asia on North Korea. Yesterday he pulled out of the Paris climate accord. Who do these actions benefit?
TPP: Mostly China, which was left out of TPP and now has an open road to create its own trading bloc. The benefit to the US is minuscule at best.
NATO: Russia, of course. I assume this needs no explanation?
Paris: Mostly China, which can now take the high ground and bill itself as the global leader in combating climate change. The benefit to America is probably zero or negative.
North Korea: China. They’re pretty obviously stringing Trump along, doling out tiny claims of progress in return for concessions by Trump. I’m guessing their claims in the South China Sea are very safe as long as they keep up this charade with Trump the global bumpkin.
Autocrats: China and Russia, which very much like the idea of the leader of the free world affirming that human rights are for suckers. America gets nothing from this policy of alienating the allies we have in return for kowtowing to autocrats who share no values with us and have no intention of becoming allies.
I’m not saying this is a deliberate policy from Trump. I doubt he really has one. But it’s pretty remarkable that America gets nothing from “America First,” while China and Russia are big beneficiaries.
For a more coherent take on this, check out Max Boot in the LA Times today. He has a pretty clear-eyed read on what’s going on.