By Hanif Ghaffari

America’s weak domestic policy is a reflection on U.S. foreign policy

January 27, 2018

TEHRAN - U.S. President Donald Trump has arrived at the Davos Summit in Switzerland to participate in the World Economic Forum (WEF) with other world leaders such as U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron. 

Notwithstanding a U.S. government shut down reflecting tension between the Democrats and Republicans in the U.S Senate, this will be the first time that a U.S. president will address the WEF. The ongoing domestic crisis in the United States as well as provocative, if not incessant inflammatory comments made by President Trump has caused the cancellation of state visits to the United Kingdom and possibly to Switzerland. 

President Trump is expected to highlight the boundary between his domestic and foreign policies.  Although the United States feigns to appear as a powerful government that domineers over the international community, domestic instability and international isolationism have made America a vulnerable country in recent years. 

As a result, the impact President Trump hopes to have at the Davos Summit is questionable as he has demonstrated an uncanny ability to boldly insult and hence, alienate certain sovereign nations in the international community.  President Trump’s unreasonable demands and bullying of foreign powers and independent states have deeply weakened his position in the global arena. 

There are some points here that need to be taken into consideration:

• This is not the first time that U.S. domestic crises are reflected in the country's foreign

policy. This trend has been intensified during the presidency of Donald Trump. Last year, during the Munich Security Conference, merely two months after Trump entered the Oval Office, Senior U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona, criticized the president’s handling of FBI and Pentagon’s investigation involving his National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. At the Munich Security Conference, Sen. McCain argued that the resignation of Michael Flynn was a reflection of chaos in the Trump administration:  “I think that the Flynn issue obviously is something that shows that in many respects this administration is in disarray and they’ve got a lot of work to do, the president, I think, makes statements (and) on other occasions contradicts himself. So we’ve learned to watch what the president does as opposed to what he says,” declared Sen. McCain.

• It is likely that Pres. Trump will address issues unrelated to the conference during the Davos Summit in order to shift focus from the ongoing U.S. domestic political crises.   White House top security advisor Herbert McMaster announced that Pres. Trump will hold meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Rwanda's President Paul Kagameh and other world leaders on the sidelines of the annual Davos Summit. McMaster stated that "Tehran's missile program and the growing presence of Iran in the region" will be the main subject of the talks between Trump and Netanyahu. Such talks between Netanyahu and Trump have taken place before. McMaster and other U.S. officials cannot deny that the unprecedented presence of a U.S. president at the Davos Summit is atypical. 

• Pres. Trump is attending the Davos summit during a U.S. federal government shutdown and ongoing crisis at the White House. The government shutdown occurred at the end of Trump's first year as president, while his approval rate among Americans has fallen below 40%. In other words, the shutdown of the federal government demonstrates that Trump has possibly lost his favorable position with his followers and American politicians. It should be noted that the U.S. government’s shut down occurred after Congress failed to overcome a standoff over spending and immigration laws.  Although the President of the United States is trying to blame this shutdown on his rival party, it is clear to everyone that this claim by Trump doesn't correspond to current realities in the United States. The Democrats are now a Senate minority and hold 49 seats. On the other hand, the government shutdown showed that a number of Republican senators backed Democrats on this path.  The Senate Democrat leader Chuck Schumer and other Democratic senators have also emphasized that the shutdown of the U.S. government is the result of some Republican senators’ cooperation and that the Democrats are not entirely to blame for this. Obviously, if Democrats can triumph in the upcoming elections, it would limit Pres. Trump’s ability to influence domestic and foreign policy equations. In such a situation, the "independent political personality" of Trump is going to fade, and this is the worst possible news for Donald Trump and members of his administration such as Mike Pence and Herbert McMaster.

President Trump’s lack of popularity, the ongoing battle between Congress and the White House, in addition to the voiced international discontent with the current U.S. President has placed Trump in a difficult position. The unprecedented presence of a U.S. president at the Davos summit and his subsequent meetings with world leaders cannot diminish or negate the crises festering in the United States.  Undoubtedly, in the near future, we'll see the intensification of the existing crises and its impact on domestic and international policy of the United States.

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