Wrecking the Balance of Power


The international balance of power has been upset, perhaps permanently.

Shreyas Gullapalli, Op-Ed Editor

It’s no secret that Trump is not the most popular politician at home. That in itself is not uncommon- sitting presidents rarely are. What is more surprising, and becoming more clear by the day, is his lack of popularity abroad. Just a few weeks ago, in a speech to the UN, Trump was met by laughter as he was, in his classic style, describing his own vast successes in the US. While his actions and attitude, in and of themselves, may seem humorous or of import to only the US, taken together, they present a disconcerting image of the future.

As it stands, the US essentially functions in a hegemonic manner internationally. In order for any international accord to have legitimacy, the US must either be signatory to it, or approve of it. This attitude stems both from the US’s overwhelming military strength, and its carefully structured international policy. For better or worse, where the US goes, much of the world follows. This system has promoted domestic American interests abroad and kept other powers in check for much of the 21st century. Yet today, that power is being threatened.

Many Americans see Trump as a passing storm- catastrophic and dangerous, but not something impossible to recover from. This is true in part- like any resident, his policies can eventually be replaced and eradicated. What may prove harder to recover is the US’s image on the world stage. In the past two years, the US has resumed talks with North Korea, withdrawn from the Paris Agreement and Trans-Pacific Partnership, begun attempts to renegotiate and potentially withdraw from NAFTA, rolled back ties with Cuba, started a trade war in China, and withdrawn from the Iran Nuclear Deal. While any one of these events are undoubtedly significant, together they suggest a worrying trend- the US is no longer reliable as a stable mediator of international policy. While before, the US’s foreign policy could reasonably be assumed to have some longevity, that is no longer the case. Other countries are beginning to realize that much of the US’s policy could face reversal every four years with the introduction of a new executive by a capricious populace.

Trump may be gone in two years (or less, Mueller willing) but what he symbolizes will have a lasting effect on foreign policy for years to come.