The White House unveiled its new National Security Strategy on Monday, allowing the world to better familiarise themselves with the Trump Doctrine.
In a document defined by the core concepts of competition and rivalry, the Trump administration advocates what it calls an “America First National Security Strategy”.
Different from his predecessors over the past decades, Mr Trump is confronted with an extremely divided US.
However, it seems that in a bid to cement his rule, he has chosen to not bridge this gap, but instead intensify the polarisation that exists in the country. His approach to dealing with the Charlottesville riots in the summer demonstrates this.
By emphasizing the confrontation between the grass-roots and the elite, as well as between nationalists and globalists, Mr Trump is taking pains to consolidate the support of the white lower-middle class.
The newly released national strategy reveals that the Trump administration is trying to apply this practice of “deepening the divide” to US foreign policy. The report labels China and Russia “revisionist” powers and rolls out the concept of “competitive diplomacy”.
However, little effort is put into shedding light on the fourth pillar of the strategy, “Advance American Influence”, which demonstrates Mr Trump’s unvarnished contempt for international organisations and multilateralism.
Mr Trump’s actions over the past year are known to all.
Under his leadership, the US has gradually withdrawn from global affairs. The Trump administration quit the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris climate accord and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Mr Trump also threatened to scrap the Iran nuclear deal, a hard-fought agreement that was agreed upon by major powers in 2015.
In particular, his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has aroused indignation around the world. Even the UK, one of the US’ closest allies, expressed its dismay at this move in public. Analysts say this move has already begun stoking the flames in an already chaotic region.
Under Mr Trump’s rule, the US has become part of a problem instead of part of a solution. The world’s largest economy is causing significant damage to international order, leading it to become exactly what it labels others – a “revisionist” power.
This strategy should come as no surprise. Actually, Mr Trump’s former chief political strategist Steve Bannon exposed it far in advance.
Though he has already left the White House, Mr Bannon remains Mr Trump’s deeply-trusted strategist, and it seems that day by day Bannonism is having an increasingly negative influence on the US.
In his speeches in Japan and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China in recent months, Mr Bannon cast himself as a true populist and hawk and called on populists around the world to unite. He also decried US and European elites, what he calls the “Party of Davos”, for sitting and watching the interests of the Western middle class become impaired.
When it comes to international relations, there is no doubt that the Trump administration’s national strategy has thrown a shadow over Sino-US diplomacy.
Some Chinese strategists have started to criticise the Trump administration for going too far.
Beijing has been giving Washington immense support when it comes to tackling the North Korean nuclear issue. However, the US continues to challenge China’s limits concerning the Taiwan question.
China does not want to engage in an economic war, but it is not afraid of one.
Though current US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his ilk “successfully” ruined the Japanese economy in the 1980s, they will not be able to do the same to China. China has never intentionally sought to establish a trade surplus with the US – actually it has continued to increase imports from the US.
Mr Trump makes the US out to be a victim that has suffered under the effects of economic globalisation, but this does not conform with the facts.
World Bank statistics show that the US economic volume rose from $6.54 trillion in 1992 to $18.57 trillion in 2016, a threefold increase. It’s clear that the exacerbating inequality that exists across the US should be attributed to its economic and social systems, not China or immigrants.
In the National Security Strategy, the Trump administration continues to advocate an “Indo-Pacific” strategy. South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have reservations about this “Indo-Pacific” concept, as it is sure to cripple the influence of medium- and small-sized countries in the region.
To a certain degree, Washington overestimates its popularity in this region. And it’s hard to say whether the Trump administration has the full confidence of Japan, India and Australia. Their concern about the unpredictability of US strategy is on the rise.
The Trump administration is introducing instability and uncertainty to the world. The populism, economic nationalism, racism and xenophobia promoted by Mr Bannon make it difficult for the US to stand as a moral leader of the world. US politicians should face up to the problems they have created for their own people and the rest of the world, instead of placing the blame for these issues on China and other countries. Global Times
Zhao Minghao is a senior research fellow with The Charhar Institute and an adjunct fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.