Donald Trump ran his presidential campaign by flouting norms and defying conventional politics. The policy not only worked, but it also exceeded everyone’s expectations.
Trump is pursuing the same formula after being elected as the President, and this unorthodoxy is raising questions, both at home and abroad.
Three international calls made last week made the U.S. media and Trump critics go berserk. Whereas Friday’s call to the Taiwan President hinted a possible shift in U.S. longstanding foreign policy, it was followed by calls with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
President Duterte verbal tirades towards Obama, not only made headlines but also made Obama cancel a scheduled meeting with the Philippine President. U.S. has been critical of Philippine’s ‘War on Drugs’ which has caused many extrajudicial killings. Duterte has vowed to realign with China, a shift away from longstanding U.S. ties. While Duterte extended congratulatory offers towards the newly President-elect, he received congratulations from Trump on dealing with the drug issue “the right way” according to his statement in a press conference on Saturday. Both presidents presented the wish to meet each other. While Trump’s transition team did mention the call, there was no comment on the drug issue.
The phone call with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made headlines because of the flowery language attached to it. According to Pakistani media reports the full transcript was released – a breach in diplomatic protocol – a selected part of which goes like:
You are a terrific guy. You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way. I am looking forward to seeing you soon. Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people. I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems.
Trump’s transition team described the call as a “productive conversation” in a more subdued summary released, and negated the Pakistani version of the story.
The surprising element is that the account is way off from the current state of affairs. U.S. has the most intricate ties with Pakistan. It is a sensitive issue because it is not only directly linked with safe havens for terrorists, but it directly affects U.S. relations with India (Pakistan’s archrival).
Tension among the most important bilateral relationship in world politics (U.S. and China) will be felt throughout the globe. While critics describe these calls owe to Trump’s inexperience in foreign policy, the transition team said that Trump was well aware of the implications of the Taiwan call.
Texas Sen. and former Republican Presidential nominee, Ted Cruz criticized Obama’s foreign policy of engaging with the foes in a tweet:
I would much rather have Donald Trump talking to President Tsai than to Cuba’s Raul Castro or Iran’s Hasan Rouhani. This is an improvement.
Still, no one from the Trump’s transition team has reaffirmed the One China Policy after the phone call with Taiwan, this hint at a possible policy change, according to experts.