Trou­ble over­seas starts here

Springfield Sun - - OPIN­ION - By U.S. Rep. Bren­dan Boyle

Pres­i­dent Trump has been largely in­ef­fec­tive at en­act­ing his do­mes­tic pol­icy agenda. Even with his own party in con­trol of Congress, he has not been able to get even one of his ma­jor leg­isla­tive pro­pos­als passed and signed into law. From my per­spec­tive, this is a good thing.

How­ever, in the realm of for­eign pol­icy, the of­fice of the pres­i­dent largely has free reign. In just a few months, Pres­i­dent Trump has used the wide lat­i­tude of his of­fice to do grave dam­age.

Pres­i­dent Trump has sin­gle-hand­edly im­posed dra­matic changes to Amer­i­can for­eign pol­icy that should con­cern all Amer­i­cans. As a mem­ber of the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, I am deeply trou­bled.

In the post-world War II era, ev­ery Amer­i­can pres­i­dent from Tru­man, Ike and JFK through Rea­gan, both Bushes and Obama has reaf­firmed their role as lead­ers of the free world. This has al­ways been a bi­par­ti­san con­sen­sus. Trump is chang­ing that through his will­ful de­ci­sions to re­move Amer­ica’s prin­ci­pled lead­er­ship on the most press­ing is­sues of our time, from hu­man rights to press free­doms and our com­mit­ments to our clos­est al­lies. Some of these al­lies are mak­ing pub­lic their fal­ter­ing trust in us, such as Ger­many and Canada. Rather than “ne­go­ti­at­ing bet­ter deals,” he is re­mov­ing us from the bar­gain­ing ta­ble al­to­gether.

Pres­i­dent Trump first vis­ited Saudi Ara­bia, where he was full of praise for the king­dom’s lead­ers and silent on mat­ters of hu­man rights and fund­ing of ter­ror. While in Saudi Ara­bia, he de­clared he wasn’t there “to lec­ture them” on hu­man rights, but he had no such hes­i­ta­tion about lec­tur­ing on his next stop in Brus­sels.

When I first learned Pres­i­dent Trump planned to at­tend the NATO and G7 meet­ings, I was en­cour­aged to see him ap­par­ently em­brac­ing our al­lies and the im­por­tant al­liance that he so of­ten called “ob­so­lete” on the cam­paign trail (de­spite his lack of for­eign pol­icy ex­pe­ri­ence or knowl­edge). How­ever, I was alarmed by the pres­i­dent’s be­hav­ior on the world stage.

In Europe, Trump shoved fel­low world lead­ers aside, fig­u­ra­tively and lit­er­ally, and failed to reaf­firm Amer­ica’s com­mit­ment to NATO’S foun­da­tional ar­ti­cle 5 of col­lec­tive de­fense. He made a tired cam­paign-style speech about NATO’S fi­nanc­ing (de­spite the litany of press­ing global is­sues wor­thy of dis­cus­sion). Trump set out to make other na­tions look ir­re­spon­si­ble for their de­fense spend­ing; but, in the end, it’s the United States that will be ir­re­spon­si­ble if we turn our back on NATO.

NATO coun­tries and oth­ers, like Ja­pan, live un­der the um­brella of our pro­tec­tion. This is by our own de­sign — a pol­icy pur­sued in our own in­ter­est to, in the end, pro­tect Amer­i­cans. In 1949, in the wake of an­other world war and upon the vow of “never again,” lead­ers from 12 western na­tions cre­ated NATO to pro­vide col­lec­tive se­cu­rity against the Soviet Union and the threats it posed to demo­cratic so­ci­eties. Al­most half a mil­lion Amer­i­cans had fallen dur­ing the war and, while the vi­o­lence had ended, con­flict was still brew­ing be­tween Western na­tions and the Soviet Union. NATO de­ters and dif­fuses the es­ca­la­tion of con­flicts. To­day, from Vladimir Putin’s ag­gres­sion in East­ern Europe to vi­o­lence spread­ing in the Mid­dle East, it will be our com­mit­ment to NATO that will pre­vent ag­gres­sion and vi­o­lence from com­ing to our own coun­try.

Now, Trump an­nounced he is with­draw­ing the United States from the Paris Cli­mate Ac­cords, the land­mark vol­un­tary agree­ment be­tween 195 coun­tries to col­lec­tively ad­dress the threat of global cli­mate change. The United States is the sec­ond high­est emit­ter of green­house gases. Pre­vi­ously, only Syria and Nicaragua de­clined to join the agree­ment. While the Paris Ac­cord may not seem like a for­eign pol­icy is­sue at first glance, when cou­pled with Trump’s words at NATO, the con­clu­sion is clear: Pres­i­dent Trump has re­signed the United States’ role as world leader.

We are al­ready see­ing the im­pact of his blun­ders play out. Fol­low­ing sev­eral days of meet­ings with Trump, Chan­cel­lor of Ger­many An­gela Merkel told her cit­i­zens, “The times when we could com­pletely rely on oth­ers are, to an ex­tent, over.”

All Amer­i­cans should be deeply dis­turbed by Trump’s demon­strated re­treat from our ideals on the global stage and his lack of lead­er­ship on the is­sues of our time. The stakes are too high. U.S. Rep. Bren­dan Boyle, D-13, can be reached at his Glen­side of­fice at 115 E. Glen­side Av­enue, Ste 1, Glen­side (215-517-6572); his Norristown of­fice at 101 E. Main St., Suite A, Norristown (610-2708081); or his Wash­ing­ton, D.C., of­fice at 1133 Long­worth House Of­fice Build­ing, Wash­ing­ton, D.C. (202-225-6111).

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