Foreign Diplomacy and Policy

Frankly, I do not know why people are so surprised by Trump's recent "shithole" remark

For those who are unfamiliar, President Trump recently expressed frustration that immigrants were more likey to come from "shithole" countries like Haiti and "Africa" (presumably, countries within the continent Africa), rather than countries like "Norway." Washington Post broke the story.

However, this shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. President Trump's generally negative perception of countries in the Global South (as it was meant to represent), and of diplomacy in general, is well documented (here, here, and here). His "foreign policy" is guided by his campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again," focusing only on policies which should benefit the United States. Coupling his hatred of immigrants and those from developing world (i.e., "shithole" countries), it is no wonder that he prefers immigrants from the "Democratic North."

But one word, or indeed one statement, does not a foreign policy make. It is only the discursive part of a much larger, and more important change in U.S. foreign policy. In 2017, we have seen a drastic decline in foreign aid-- a result of Trump's "America first" campaign. His upheavals of U.S. foreign policy appear unplanned and surprising, even to the Defense or State Department. 

This "America first" campaign does not necessarily mean an isolationist strategy, but rather a campaign dominated by U.S. preeminence, rather than U.S. sympathy. This is manifest destiny in its ugly, modern form. Devoid of ethics, human decency, and true American values. President Trump saying "shithead countries" is not just an example, but a consequence of his overall foreign policy strategy, which has far more tangible effects than a statement said in an intra-state meeting. Charity, to Trump, is for "suckers," and thus, minor things like "human rights" are soundly disregarded.

For example, consider the Trump Administration's recent push for easing export rules regarding U.S. guns sold overseas (broken by Reuters, reported by many others). This is meant to make U.S. weaponry more competitive against those developed by other countries. The U.S. is already a leading provider of weapons exports, 80% of which go to developing countries

The underlying rationale for these eased regulations is a classic Republican goal: to increase jobs in the United States (nevermind that full unemployment is still not 0% unemployment). This includes sales to "shithole" countries like Nigeria, to fight Boko Haram, countries of interest like Saudi Arabia, and allies like Taiwan. In fact, arms sales appear to be the primary strategy of President Trump's foreign policy. After all, no one wants to go up against the person (or country) who sells them their weapons.

But it is important to keep in mind the greater cost of these short-sighted policies. In focusing on arms sales and depending on increasing conflict to boost the U.S. economy, President Trump's foreign policy also paves the way for alternative state leaders to usurp the United States' status as the global hegemon. In particular, China has found Trump's foreign policy to be an open door of opportunity. Such consequences can impact the United States longer than Trump's term in office. 

In other words: Trump's "shithead" comment is not surprising, and is indeed consistent, with his arms-heavy, hard-power heavy brute-force foreign policy strategy. Regardless of whether the United States comes out first or not, it doesn't matter so long as we think the U.S. should.