- The Washington Times
Monday, April 15, 2019

Much of the foreign policy establishment has shunned President Trump, but a lengthy new survey from a veteran diplomat now at the Council on Foreign Relations argues that Mr. Trump deserves more credit than he is generally given for his international successes during the first half of his term.

The 68-page survey, which assigned letter grades to the administration’s foreign policies, cited Mr. Trump’s “realistic approaches” to U.S.-China relations, the decisions to draw down troops in Syria and try to disengage in Afghanistan, and the administration’s handling of the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, all of which were given a B+ grade.


Author Robert D. Blackwill, a former ambassador to India and member of the National Security Council under former President George W. Bush, also highlighted Mr. Trump’s handling of North Korea, his support for Israel, trade policy and campaign to temper Iran’s nuclear program, which received above average marks.

“All the chaos generated by this flawed president does produce actual policies,” Mr. Blackwill concluded, “the substance of which in many cases is likely to be more consequential than the ways by which the policies arrived and the character of the man who formulated them.”

Mr. Blackwill attributed improved relations with India, Israel and Saudi Arabia to the president’s sometimes unorthodox policies during his first two years in office.

While acknowledging Mr. Trump’s mercurial personal style and sometimes chaotic personnel moves, Mr. Blackwill wrote, “What matters most is the effectiveness of U.S. policy over time and its consistency with U.S. national interests, not the personal qualities of its leaders.”

Mr. Trump’s foreign policy moves have “often been rash, ignorant and chaotic,” Mr. Blackwill wrote in the survey, “… yet some of his individual foreign policies are substantially better than his opponents assert.”

Even with the guarded praise, Mr. Blackwill gave the president’s foreign policy a D+ grade overall and suggested the second half of Mr. Trump’s term could face serious challenges overseas.

The report noted that “on many of the most important issues … the Trump administration scrambles to make sense of the president’s public pronouncements, which are often made by tweet and are often as much a surprise to them as to the public.”

The analyst, now a fellow at the Council, faulted the Trump administration for its approach to NATO and European security and policy implementation, as well as Mr. Trump’s promotion of U.S. values at home and abroad.

Trump is a president who persistently attempts to deceive the people of the United States about the substance of his policies,” Mr. Blackwill wrote, citing friction with the FBI, Congress and the media. He argued that eroding such relationships “weakens American capacity to project power abroad.”

The president received the lowest marks for his policies on climate change and relations with Russia, as well as for his approach to alliances, and his overall character, which were all given F grades.

Still, the analyst noted, that the overall grade is “a substantially higher mark for his foreign policies than found on the Sunday talk shows … or among many U.S. national security experts,” many of whom have given Mr. Trump across-the-board failing grades for his foreign policy.


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