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Book in Focus
The Main Successes and Failures of the Trump Administration’s Foreign and Domestic Policies
By Jorge Morales Pedraza
The present book, made up of 12 chapters, is the result of deep research on the Donald Trump presidency (January 2017 to January 2021). The book includes an objective evaluation of how the Trump administration implemented the domestic and foreign policies adopted and their impact on the United States (US) and abroad. These policies cover several issues such as immigration, the Iran nuclear program, the DPRK nuclear weapon program, the trade wars with several countries and groups of countries, the development of the US nuclear weapon program, and its nonproliferation policy, tax reforms, among others.
A unique characteristic of this book is that several proposals and recommendations are included in each Chapter to seek fair, balanced, and long-term solutions to the various problems affecting international peace, security, and economic trade. After a deep analysis of the main consequences of implementing President Trump's domestic and foreign policies, the book contains a group of concrete proposals to consider by those readers with a relevant role in the US government and Congress, during the Biden administration.
Chapter 1, entitled "General Overview," provides the reader with a summary of the type of foreign policy that has characterized the US since the adoption of its Constitution in 1787. There are two types of foreign policy adopted by all US presidents. One is the so-called "Isolationism," and the second is called "Interventionism." In the first case, the US administration refrains from participating in all international affairs that do not directly affect the country or that do not pose a direct threat to its national interests. In the second case, the US administration engages in all international affairs to impose its view on the main world issues, values, and principles in defense of its own national interests. During his term in office, President Trump's foreign policy was characterized by Isolationism, prioritizing a bilateral approach to resolving world issues. Its main goal was to impose the US interests above all others in world affairs, and this is easier to achieve through a bilateral approach than a multilateral one.
Chapter 2, entitled "The US Economy and President Trump's Economic Policy," include a complete analysis of the implementation of President Trump's economic policies and how they impacted the overall US economy, the level of the US Gross Domestic Product, and the development of the US manufacturing sector. The Chapter also includes a brief discussion of the level of the US unemployment, particularly the level registered during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
Without a doubt, the coronavirus pandemic hit the US economy very hard. As a result, the unemployment levels in the country increased significantly in 2020. In May 2020, the number of American workers that filed for unemployment since mid-March, reached 40.8 million, the highest level ever reached in such a short period in US history. That unprecedented increase in the country's level of unemployment was attributed not only to the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the US economy but also to the wrong approach adopted by the Trump administration to fight this pandemic. Fortunately, the unemployment level began to recede in 2021, and by the late summer of 2021, the national unemployment rate was 5.2%, and inching closer to the 2019 unemployment rate of 3.5%, which was the lowest since 2019.
Beyond question, the coronavirus pandemic had a negative impact on the level of inflation in the US economy. In 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic, the inflation level was expected to be between 1.6% and 2%, and it was expected to reach 1.8% in 2021, according to the most recent forecast released at the Federal Open Market Committee meeting held on June 19, 2019. However, the average rose to 4.7% in 2021. The slowdown registered in the level of inflation in 2019 and 2020 is a side effect of the US's trade war with other countries, particularly against China, a key component of President Trump's economic policies.
Chapter 3, entitled "The Democratic People Republic of Korea's Nuclear Weapons Program and the Trump Administration Position," provides the reader with all the necessary information regarding the evolution since 1956 of the DPRK nuclear weapons program, its main components, the outcome of the two summits held between President Trump and the Leader of the DPRK, Kim Jong-un, the main topics discussed, and their main differences. These differences impede the search for a fair and lasting solution to the Korean War. One of the most important sections of Chapter 3 discusses the future direction of the DPRK's nuclear weapons program and a group of measures that should be adopted to find a lasting and fair diplomatic solution to the conflict, in the Korean Peninsula.
Chapter 4, entitled "The Iranian Nuclear Program and the Trump Administration Position," provides the reader with the latest information related to the main components of the Iran nuclear program, the relevant elements of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), the unique characteristics of the verification system applied by the IAEA under this agreement, and a comprehensive analysis of the JCPOA. It includes relevant information that could help the reader to conclude whether the Iran agreement accomplished its intended goal of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon or not. Based on the information included in this Chapter, the reader will have the opportunity to conclude whether the Iran agreement is the correct instrument to impede Iran from producing a nuclear weapon in a short period or the agreement should be renegotiated. The reader will also have the opportunity to determine if the international community has other realistic alternatives available instead of the JCPOA to reach the same objective.
Two of the relevant issues included in Chapter 4 are the consequences of the US unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA to the Middle East peace and security process and the re-imposing of unilateral sanctions against Iran adopted by the US and their impact on the Iranian economy. This Chapter describes the conditions for the US to return to the JCPOA and the position adopted by Iran and other state parties on this issue, including a group of proposals on possible actions that could be adopted to keep the JCPOA alive bearing in mind the interests of all parties involved.
Chapter 5, entitled "The Trade Wars Promoted by the Trump Administration," provides the reader with the latest information about the possible consequences for the world economy, resulting from the US trade wars against China, Mexico, Canada, and the European Union, among others. This Chapter also includes a group of actions that could be implemented to stop the current US trade wars against the countries mentioned above. According to the content of this Chapter, in 2019, the US economy experienced a slowdown caused partially by the US trade wars with other countries, particularly against China, a key component of President Trump's economic policies. By July 2020, the US inflation rate had dropped by almost 1%. By July 2021, economic activity were returning to more normal levels. However, the interruption in the supply chain of goods and services, caused by the economic shutdown in 2020, created inflationary pressures affecting the US and other countries as well. Accordingly, the inflation rate rose by almost 5.4% from July 2020 to July 2021.
Chapter 6, titled "President Trump Policy Towards Multilateral Treaties and International Organizations," identifies the main arguments used by the Trump administration to justify withdrawing from several multilateral agreements, international organizations, and bilateral agreements on arms control with Russia. As a result of President Trump's isolationist position in foreign policy, he withdrew the US from several international agreements and establishments. These actions limited the search for realistic solutions to some of the major problems affecting transnational peace and security.
The argument used by President Trump to withdraw the US from several international organizations was that the policies and activities carried out by these insitituions were against the interests of the US and the friends and allies of the nation. It is important to stress that President Trump's position ignored that the US exercise tight control over the programs and budgets of these organizations, by having placed its main officials in key positions within their Secretariats. Besides, President Trump has withdrawn the US from almost all bilateral agreements on arms control with Russia still in force, and announced that the US would also adopt all necessary steps to withdraw from the Treaty of Open Skies.
It is a real fact that the US exercise strong political pressure on almost all member states of these establishments to force them to support the US positions, policies, and programs during their governing bodies' meetings, a common practice of all US administration since 1945. However, it is also true that the US does not always succeed in imposing its positions on other countries during the deliberation by their governing bodies of certain issues of special interest to the US. The reason is straightforward: because, in many cases, the US representatives acted very selfishly, ignoring the positions and specific interests of other countries.
Chapter 7, entitled “The Energy Policy of the Trump Administration," contains a discussion of the Trump administration's position on energy policy, particularly the use of coal and oil for electricity generation and heating, renewable energy, and nuclear power. Despite all of President Trump's measures to increase the role of coal in the US energy mix during the coming years, the coal era is officially over in the US. In 2019, for example, the amount of energy produced from renewable energy sources exceeded coal-fired power generation in the US for the first time in the country's history, and it is expected that this situation will not change in the future. This Chapter also includes the latest information regarding the so-called "Cold Energy War" between the US and China to control critical minerals and materials in the world market, such as lithium, cobalt, graphite, and rare earth elements.
Chapter 8, named "The Immigration Policy of the Trump Administration," identifies the main components of the Trump administration's immigration policy and their consequences for the US economy and the political relationships with other countries. There are two elements of President Trump's immigration policy that are singled out in this Chapter. One of the policies involved constructing a wall on the border with Mexico. That wall aimed to impede the entry of illegal immigrants from several countries, particularly from Latin American and Caribbean countries. The second policy was the increased visas and green card requirements, which future immigrants had to satisfy before entering the country legally, and the establishment of an immigration quota for some countries. This policy was designated to generally reduce the entry of new immigrants to live and work in the US and limit the number of immigrants allowed to enter from certain countries. According to the new regulations adopted by the Trump administration, the green card applicant was required to speak English, have the resources to live in the country, not request social and economic aid from the government, and have health care insurance.
Chapter 9, entitled "Nuclear Weapons and the Non-Proliferation Policy of the Trump Administration," discusses the latest information surrounding the US nuclear weapons program, their modernization, and the US nonproliferation policy, among others. This Chapter also contains information about the US nuclear weapons arsenal and identifies the pros and cons related to the possession of nuclear weapons. One of the issues discussed in this Chapter is the modernization of the US nuclear forces in a clear violation of the country's commitments and obligations as a state party to the NPT. This US action ignores the fact that the US is promoting international sanctions against any country that tried to produce a nuclear weapon, even if such a country was under no obligation not to do so. This Chapter also discusses the possible resumption of nuclear tests in a clear violation of its obligations as a PTBT state party and signatory of the CTBT.
Chapter 9 also include information about how the US administration tried to implement its own traditional nuclear nonproliferation policy by impeding new states from producing nuclear weapons while the US kept modernizing its own nuclear arsenal, expending billions of dollars on this purpose. Undoubtedly, the modernization of the US nuclear arsenal might become a key element to the beginning of a new and dangerous nuclear arms race that will involve at least two other countries: Russia and China. The possibility of producing a low-yield nuclear weapon that could be used in a regional or local conflict involving US armed forces was also a dangerous idea discussed within the Trump administration. Any movement on this issue will provoke a strong response from Russia, China, and other countries as well.
Chapter 9 also provides the reader with a brief analysis of the Trump administration and the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review and includes a section that identifies a group of measures that should be adopted to eliminate all nuclear weapons in possession of all nuclear weapons states.
Chapter 10, "The Impeachment of President Trump," includes a summary of President Trump's impeachment process and subsequent outcome, including a brief analyses of President Trump's followers' assault on the US Congress.
Chapter 11, entitled "Main Success and Failures of President Trump Domestic and Foreign Policy," summarizes President Trump's domestic and foreign policies' main successes and failures and their consequences to the US and other countries.
Finally, Chapter 12, "Conclusion," summarizes the main issues discussed in the different chapters of the book.
Jorge Morales Pedraza served as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Cuba to the IAEA and as Deputy Head to the IAEA General Conference during the 1980s. He also later acted as the Head of the Cuban Delegation during negotiations on the Chemical Weapons Convention, before serving as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Cuba to the OPCW Preparatory Commission in the Hague. From 1990-1993, he worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Ambassador for Disarmament and Non-proliferation, and as Special Adviser of the Vice-Minister for International Organizations. He is the author of 101 books, book chapters, and articles.
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