Pandemic mishandling and a flawed Foreign Policy
Donald Trump's exit.....
After an uneasy calm, Joe Biden has been finally sworn in as the 46th President of United States. The swearing in ceremony was a subtle affair as Washington wore a ‘war-zone’ like security cover with a negligible crowd attending the ceremony. People remained glued to TV sets to watch a televised celebration of democracy. Washington was barricaded by thousands of armed National Guard members in the backdrop of storming of Capitol Building by Trump supporters early January. Donald Trump skipped the transfer of power ceremony and had left Washington where he had spent the past two months claiming Biden won the election by fraud.
Donald Trump till the last days of his presidency refused to acknowledge his defeat in the election. He was seen firing salvos against his opponent by waging legal battles to contest the results and his loaded speeches would instigate his supporters to scuttle the smooth transfer of power. The showdown and the violence at the Capitol sent shock waves across the world, causing irreparable damage to the image of world’s crusader of democracy.
Trump’s four years term had string of failures – a collapsed economy, the issues of racial injustice and large scale devastation caused by Coronavirus pandemic. Besides, the center of the debate was a disastrous foreign policy. The issue of North Korea was mishandled and the “direct approach” policy of Trump with North Korean totalitarian despot remained limited to photo shoots. There was no breakthrough in talks with Kim Jong Un and the denuclearisation of Pyongyang still remains a distant dream with no hope of any deescalation of tensions in Korean peninsula.
The issue of Middle East wasn’t dealt with a reconciliatory approach. The Trump administration showered favours on Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu by moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem which Palestinians had sought as the capital of their future state. He tacitly supported Jewish State’s plan of annexation of parts of West Bank and Gaza. The situation is heading towards another Intifadah and there is all the probability of escalation of tensions in besieged Palestinian territories. The Palestinian leadership was not consulted before US brokered agreement of normalizing of relations between UAE and Israel. The world community viewed the Trump policy as cementing the Israeli control rather than advancing towards a two-state solution.
The 2020 saw increased tension between Iran and US. A majority of Americans disapproved Trump’s handling of the situation with Persian nation. The fallout of the strike against Iran’s top General, Qassim Suleimani led to a major escalation in the months of tension between the US and Iran, which launched retaliatory missile strikes on American bases in Iraq. Earlier, Trump had withdrawn from the multinational deal that was reached by Obama administration aimed at halting the Iranian nuclear programme.
Trump administration signed a landmark deal with Taliban insurgents to end the decades of hostilities in Afghanistan. The peace talks between Taliban negotiators and interlocuters of Afghan government were hosted by Qatar where US sealed the deal. But disputes remained over the exchange of thousands of prisoners between the insurgent group and Kabul. The continued insurgent battlefield attacks hampered efforts to push the two sides to the negotiating table. The Taliban has reestablished control over many Afghan districts. The war has cost America nearly a trillion dollars. The war is deeply unpopular with American people but analysts believe the Trump administration’s peace agreement with the Taliban has been flawed from the start.
Donald Trump in his 2016 campaign document titled “Reforming the US – China Trade Relationship to make America Great Again” had pledged to reclaim millions of American jobs and revive American manufacturing. He had said that China was responsible for the “greatest theft in the history of the world” and lambasted the US trade deficit with China. The subsequent trade war caused more pain to America and Trump made efforts to develop a smooth and positive relationship with China. Trump lauded Xi Jin Ping’s strength and leadership publicly. Trump in June 2019, reportedly promised Xi Jinping in a private phone call that the US would refrain from criticizing China over Hong Kong while trade negotiations were going on. The following month, Trump said he believed that Xi Jinping had acted “very responsibly” with the protests in Hong Kong. While the Hong Kong was on boil, Trump was reported to have told Chinese President to go ahead with building concentration camps to detain over a million Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, asking Xi to help him win the upcoming presidential election by boosting trade agreements. Though the other senior members of Trump administration were critical of China, Trump’s tone would not change until the Coronavirus started taking a toll on soil of United States.
In early 2017, Donald Trump signed a controversial Executive Order that banned foreign nationals from few Muslim countries from visiting US. The order was challenged in US Supreme Court and it caused harm to US image. The construction of wall along the US-Mexico border was another infamous order of Trump administration. Another low of Trump was his troubled relationship with US media. He was condemned for his sustained assault on the free press. Trump’s effective ploy has been to destroy the credibility of press, interfering in the business of media owners and harass journalists. The widely believed complacency of Trump with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, ‘betrayal’ with Kurds and Black Lives Matter movement are the other factors that too contributed to devastating consequences for Trump.
America witnessed Great Depression as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, the Americans started loosing confidence in Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic. Trump had repeatedly dismissed the severity of the pandemic as something that would disappear on its own, even though the virus had killed over two lakh people in America and thrown millions out of work. These all factors led to plummeting approval rating for Trump and he started trailing behind Joe Biden in the opinion polls. Biden put Trump’s mishandling of the virus front and center in his campaign to deny the Republican President a second White House term.
Majid Marouphay is a teacher from North Kashmir