Perspectives

Trump’s Foreign Policy is “Chaotic, Amorphous and Unprofessional” Says Expert


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American foreign policy under the Trump Administration currently is “chaotic, amorphous, and …unprofessional,” according to Ambassador Reuben Brigety, dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University.
Ambassador Brigety expresses to Spectrum podcast that he is concerned about the huge number of important positions in the State Department that are not yet filled after four months in office. The Trump Administration has not nominated a sufficient number of people for the U.S. Senate to confirm. This leaves foreign policy work undone and sends the wrong message to our allies, according to Brigety.
He believes that there are multiple reasons for these vacancies. He said that the Trump Transition Team was the most “slow and chaotic that we’ve seen in decades.” Therefore, nominations were not ready early in the Administration.
He also says that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has decided to “take his time” making these appointments since the Trump administration has called for a 30% budget cut in the State Department which leads to a lay-off of 2,300 State Department workers. The Ambassador calls this 30% cut “outrageous.”
Finally, Brigety says the positions are not filled because several potential employees have said “no” to joining this administration.
Brigety asserts that his observations are not partisan in nature and is quick to point out major foreign policy attributes of the Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush administrations.
The Ambassador also notes that the Trump administration, to date, has failed to articulate an overall foreign policy. “America First is not a world view,” says Brigety. He claims that it is a slogan that is rather meaningless when confronting major problems or catastrophes on the world’s stage.
Brigety also raised some concerns about the Defense Department and the role of the military in making foreign policy decisions. He cites that we come from a long tradition of “civilian control of the military” through the President. He, however, says it is a reasonable question to ask whether currently any civilians in the Trump Administration have an adequate understanding or comprehension of the military in order to make informed decisions.
Speaking specifically of Africa, Ambassador Brigety says that too often America has not taken advantage of the richness of Africa’s resources of land, people, and development possibilities. Instead, China has taken over as the major economic player on the African continent and has eclipsed America’s meager efforts. Brigety says that the Trump Administration, to date, has been “quiet on Africa.”
He provides Spectrum listeners with a guide of what to follow in the future in the areas of foreign policy. He thinks it is important to view how America is relating to its allies, how it handles North Korea, and how the Trump Administration responds to the next big disaster that will require humanitarian efforts.
Ambassador Brigety previously served as Representative of the United States to the African Union and was named Permanent Representative of the US to the UN Economic Commission for Africa. He also has served as a Deputy Assist Sec. of State in the Bureau of African Affairs and in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. He also is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.