When Donald Trump was running for election as President he made two provisional foreign policy statements, 1. Russia under Pres. Putin might be someone he could deal with, and 2. China was an enemy that was manipulating its currency to the detriment of the US and he accepted a call from the President of Taiwan that was considered to have significance.
Now that is all behind us. First the issue with Russia: anyone who thought that there was somehow a relationship between Putin and Trump and that Trump was somehow beholden to Putin must re-evaluate their prejudices. Not only did Trump really upset Putin by bombing one of Assad’s airfields, but he has also reaffirmed his support for NATO. And notwithstanding Russia’s lame excuses over the chemical weapons, the US gave Russia a hard time at the UN and elsewhere in terms of being responsible for Assad’s use of chemical weapons, that Russia was supposed to have stopped. Also, the US gave Russia advanced warning of the attack on the airfield, but they did not tell their Syrian allies. This certainly reduces Russia/Putin’s value as an ally in the region. What can Putin do next?
Now, with regard to China, Trump has met with President Xi Jinping of China and it seems they hit it off. China, above all, wants stability and hence they are loath to take action in relation to North Korea. But, Trump cannot stand by and see N. Korea develop intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with nuclear warheads. They are reponding to this development and not only are US allies at risk but so is the US itself. It may be that China will not take direct action to help the US in this bind, but at the very least they should use their influence on N. Korea’s mad leader that the US will intervene if he does nto stop his deliberate intimidation.
Although some critics say that Trump is “shooting from the hip,” on the contrary, it seems he has taken sage advice from his military advisors, such as Gens. Mattis and McMaster, in taking action in Syria, dropping the MOAB in Afghanistan and sending a large military convoy to N. Korea. The hit on Syria was criticized because it was targeted and caused limited damage and little loss of life, but that was certainly deliberate. The hit on Afghanistan was criticized because such a huge bomb was used, but the military said that was the best tactical option. Finally in N.Korea, at least a President is taking some positive action, rather than leaving it to passive diplomacy, that hasn’t worked in Syria, N. Korea, Iran or Ukraine. The message is that the US is back and that Trump has turned a corner.