United States (US) President-elect Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the White House is as surprising as his foreign policy, which was initially neglected by the hawks at the Oval office who thought his success in elections was not possible.
However, Trump has both won the elections and assembled a cabinet which was not that much of a surprise as it was already expected but his foreign policy goals have astonished the public because he has put forward things that are unimaginable for the US establishment.
Trump is a neither a conservative nor a liberal but he can be regarded as a mercantilist who is there to put U.S interests first. He is the first president-elect in the history of US who has not served in the government before, rather he is a successful real estate tycoon.
The aggressive stance by Trump on China is one of the many flashpoints of his foreign policy doctrine as he wants to declare China 'a currency manipulator'. As if that was not enough to tame the dragon, Trump has also questioned the one china policy which has surprised the whole world. He has proposed a 45% tariff on imports from China, which if imposed will shake the very foundation of the Chinese economy and may lead to a trade war with Beijing.
It should also be noted that China is the biggest creditor to the US as earlier, the Sino-US strategic rivalry was mitigated by the shared economic interests but a trade war may end this cooperation. Unlike previous presidents, Trump thinks that China’s economic rise is illegitimate.
In other arenas, Trump is also very vibrant in his voice being heard (for example he wants the Europeans to increase their defence budgets rather than being dependent on the US which is already pumping huge amounts of money in NATO). This threat somewhat worked as some European countries are increasing their defence capabilities. He also told Japan to pay more to the US soldiers deployed under the US-Japanese security agreement.
His stance on the middle east, especially Israel is surprising because he wants to shift the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a disputed territory which can virtually end the United Nations proposed two state solution and thus it may become another flashpoint of conflict in the near future. Secondly, as far as Iran is concerned he wants to backtrack on the nuclear deal signed between the six major powers and Iran. Militant groups like the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq are on the top of the list of the president-elect as he has clearly indicated that he will deal with them harshly. To do this he will have to take Russia as an ally in that region which is already a wish of Donald Trump. He wants Washington and Moscow to have better ties and admires his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
To put it simply, Trump’s foreign policy as has been heard from is rather a big surprise considering the previous tenures of the various republican and democrat presidents. Surely he wants to do good to his nation but some of his actions might lead the world into chaos. His strategy towards China is confrontational and might further fuel the strategic competition between the two biggest economies of the world. Similarly his policy towards the Middle East may result in an increase in terrorism rather than putting a lid on it. What will happen in the future is for us to wait and see.