You Are Invited to Discuss
“President Trump Abroad and a New US Foreign Policy”
with Ambassador Ronald Schlicher and Ambassador Charles Bowers
June 28, 2017
Belmont University | MC 204 | Massey Business Center
Free For World Affairs Council Members and First Time Guests
Seating is limited – Make sure to register
Two Tales of One Trip
President Donald Trump’s May 19-26, 2017 trip to the Middle East and Europe was historic. Most inaugural visits aboard by Presidents in recent decades have been to Mexico or Canada. Trump chose Saudi Arabia for his first stop with visits to Israel, Vatican City, Belgium and Italy for the G-7 summit.
It was called historic by supporters and critics. The White House described it as an “incredible, historic trip” an “extraordinary week for America.” Foreign policy observers like columnist Thomas Friedman called it “historic” in noting that, “No U.S. president before had ever put a crack in the Atlantic alliance on his inaugural tour.” The trip resulted in a new relationship with Sunni-led states in the Middle East and acrimony between Washington and European allies. German Chancellor Merkel responded to Trump’s visit by declaring that Europe must “take our fate into our own hands.”
Upon his return to Washington Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement — a move criticized as further moving America away from global engagement.
So, where is American foreign policy headed? Does “America First” mean “America Alone?” Is the United States shedding its position as “the indispensable nation?”
Join the World Affairs Council for our Global Dialogue series of conversations as we tackle that question with Ambassador Ronald Schlicher and Ambassador Charles Bowers, both retired career US Foreign Service Officers with decades of diplomatic service in the State Department and overseas.
Global Dialogue conversations are an opportunity for community members to engage each other and specialists in timely and significant discussions of hot topics in international affairs. Preparing for the conversation by reviewing several articles and reference materials allows participants to share their insights and perspectives with others in an informal setting.
Global Dialogues are organized for members of the World Affairs Council but we welcome future members at no charge to learn about this program and other benefits of membership.
Please review the suggested reading items to be better prepared to discuss this topic.
These are the questions we will seek to answer in our 90 minute conversation:
1) Since the end of the Second World War, the United States has been the undisputed leader of the so-called “Free World.” Now, we live in world where U.S. power, at least in relative terms, is declining. What should the role of the United States be in the world? Do we want to continue to be the leader of a rules-based, inclusive, liberal international order? If not, what will take its place and what nation or nations will assume the leadership?
2) President Trump’s trip to the Middle East and Europe has been called “historic” by both supporters and critics. The White House Spokesman Sean Spicer gushed that it was “an incredible, historic trip” calling it an “extraordinary week,” and a “sweeping reassurance of American interest.” He went on to assert that the trip was “the inauguration of a foreign policy strategy designed to bring back the world from growing dangers and perpetual disasters brought on by years of failed leadership.” Critics such as Tom Friedman said the trip was historic because “No U.S. president before had ever put a crack in the Atlantic alliance on his inaugural tour.” And German leader Angela Merkel said that her Europe could not count on the US as before so it was time for Europe to “take our fate into our own hands. What do you think? Was the trip an incredible success or an incredible failure? And why do you think so?
3) Foreign policy in a nutshell is a reflection of what we as a nation stand for. It is an expression of how we wish to deal with the rest of the world. So, what does America stand for? What are our core values? What should our role in the world be? How do we pursue our international and global interests? Are we back to beggar they neighbor, everyman for himself, I win you lose diplomacy or do rules and treaties and institutions still matter?
4) Critics of the Trump administration say that under President Trump the foreign policy process is broken and dysfunctional. Is foreign policy formulation a collective or a unilateral process? Are the President and his chief foreign policy advisors, Tillerson, Mattis and McMaster on the same page? What is the process for making and executing foreign policy in the Trump administration? And, more importantly, is it working?
5) The Trump administration has proposed major budget increases for the military and major cuts for diplomacy, in support for international and regional institutions and for foreign aid. In short, beefing up “hard power” and drastically cutting “soft power.” Does this make sense to you? What should be the balance between hard and soft? And, if you cut diplomacy can you make it up with more military might?
6) In his role as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, our own Senator Corker recently pushed through major new sanctions against Russia. In commenting on passage of the sanctions bill, Senator Corker said: “For decades, Congress has slowly and irresponsibly ceded its authorities to the executive branch, particularly as it relates to foreign policy,” “Today marks a significant shift of power back to the American people’s representatives, something that has been a top priority of mine since becoming the lead Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee more than four years ago.” What is the role of Congress in foreign policy? Is it fulfilling that role?
7) As of early June, the Senate had confirmed nominees for only 40 of the 1,242 positions in the federal government that require Senate confirmation. Just eight of 120 State Department posts that require confirmation, including ambassadorships, had been filled. As one foreign policy commentator put it: “How do you face, handle, manage, deal with and respond to significant international challenges when you don’t have a world-class team ready to take the field?” What is your view on why critical jobs in the State Department are remaining vacant?
8) In a recent article in Foreign Affairs magazine, veteran diplomat Elliott Abrams concluded that “based on early impressions, the Trump era will be marked more by increasing adherence to traditional U.S. foreign policy positions that by ever-larger deviations.” Knowing what you know now about Trump’s foreign policy to date, do you agree with Abrams or not?
The Tennessee World Affairs Council is a nonprofit (501c3), nonpartisan educational charity based in Nashville that works to build understanding of global issues in our communities. Learn more about the Council and find how you can join, donate and volunteer at: www.TNWAC.org —