Along the campaign trail, then-candidate Trump made a series of promises that aroused previously disenchanted voters to go to the polls and convinced a sizeable portion of the electorate that the country would be revitalized in a multitude of areas. On healthcare, Trump promised to repeal and replace Obamacare. On immigration, Trump promised a massive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and tougher policies for deportation. On Middle Eastern policy, Trump promised to refrain from increased military engagement in the region, so as to avoid the same mistakes made by the Bush administration in Iraq. Surely, there are countless other issues upon which Trump planted his flag and promised sweeping reform. Nearly 100 days into the administration’s first term, however, we have come to realize that the bulk of his most adamant campaign pledges have either been abandoned or have failed outright. He has backed off from the border wall, failed to pass an Obamacare replacement package, and has escalated tension in the Middle East by calling for a missile strike on Syria. Additionally, statements made Wednesday on a multitude of top issues indicate even further departure from those promises and policy positions.
While campaigning, Trump indicated his distaste for NATO and other global alliances. He referred to NATO as “obsolete,” criticizing fellow member nations for not pulling their weight financially and the organization at large for not doing enough to combat terror. In interviews as late as January, Trump sent chills down the spines of U.S. allies as he insinuated that NATO was outdated and may need to be removed and replaced entirely. Then, in a sharp U-turn move, Trump declared his support for the organization yesterday. In a joint news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump said, “I complained about that a long time ago, and they made a change — and now they do fight terrorism. I said it was obsolete. It's no longer obsolete.”
He claimed that major changes were made to the overall structure of NATO that addressed his concerns, however it remains unclear as to what those changes might be. While NATO did add a new assistant secretary general position to specifically address intelligence and security back in July, most analysts indicate that the change does not signal a marked shift for the organization. Stoltenberg spoke about the new division in a favorable light yet furthered that there was still substantial work to be done on the terror front. “We have established a new division for intelligence, which enhances our ability to fight terrorism, and working together in the alliance to fight terrorism in an even more effective way. But we agreed today, [Trump] and I, that NATO can and must do more in the global fight against terrorism.”
Trump continued to harp on the payment issue, telling fellow member states to “meet their financial obligations and pay what they owe.” Stoltenberg said that a more evenly distributed payment structure would be one of his top priorities.
In addition to this major shift on NATO, Trump also pulled a 180 on some other key stances. He declared that he no longer considers China to be a currency manipulator, an accusation he leveled against the Eastern power for years. He indicated support for lower interest rates and the U.S. Export-Import Bank, two matters that he had been staunchly opposed to along the campaign and into the early days of his presidency.
With this major shift on NATO, Trump is scheduled to meet with other member countries on May 25 in Brussels on his first foreign trip.
What do you make of these policy flips?