America in the World Today
Former US Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, who led the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2015 to 2019, and Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass analyze the United States’ role in the world — how our relationships, responsibilities, entanglements, and motivations, have shifted in recent years and what’s at stake in the months ahead.
Arms sales to Saudi Arabia, tariffs implemented against the EU and China, a tepid response to Russian interference in elections — the Trump administration is increasingly going it alone on significant foreign policy decisions. Bob Corker, former US Senator (R) from Tennessee, sees this as a regrettable, but inevitable, result of a gridlocked Congress:
With voters in the US prizing action over deliberation, Trump has used increasingly unilateral methods to circumvent both Congressional indecision and oversight.
Although President Trump is the figurehead of the modern Republican party, he’s also a foreign policy iconoclast. Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, questions whether Trump’s approach to foreign policy will live on past his presidency. Sen. Corker contends that Trump’s foreign policy is defined mainly by personal impulse and animus, and that’s hard to replicate.
Big IdeaI don’t think [Trump’s foreign policy] is translatable to a group of people who serve in the Senate. It’s just a very different way of dealing with foreign policy.Bob Corker
Any future president will have to work with — or around — the decisions Trump made. But Trump’s style of foreign policy will probably end along with his term(s) in office.
Sen. Corker agrees with Trump that China poses a formidable challenge to US interests both at home and abroad, but he says that Trump is focusing on the wrong issues:
Instead of trade imbalances and tariffs, Corker claims that it’s China’s theft of intellectual property and forced transference policies that are much more damaging long-term.
Richard Haass asks Sen. Corker where he sees opportunity for the US to have a positive impact in the world, and Corker immediately proposes tightening the US’ bonds with Central and South American countries. Not only would stronger US ties advance democracy and human rights in the region, says Corker, but they could also strengthen the US’ economy. At Haass’s pressing, Corker also affirms his support for careful increases to aid in the region.
By the Numbers
The Trump administration has used cuts to foreign aid as a bargaining chip for its policy goals in Central and South America, and Corker says this could be detrimental to everyone involved. Although there is potential for abuse (aid money being funneled to criminal enterprises, for example), Corker sees targeted increases in aid as an essential path forward in the region.