07 January 2019


Sergiu Medar

Image source: Mediafax

US- 2019 forecasts

In an interview for the famous magazine Financial Times, from July 2018, the titan of world’s diplomacy, Henry Kissinger, was saying about the US president that: “I think Trump may be one of those figures in history who appears from time to time to mark the end of an era and to force it to give up its old pretences. It does not necessarily mean that he knows this, or that he is considering any great alternative. It could just be an accident”.

In fact, through his decisions, Trump somehow launched a new international order. Generally, leaders from any level, are imposing their way of thinking and acting over how the organization they lead is functioning. Equally, Donald Trump is imposing his way of thinking and acting over the US.

 The new economic and security principles implemented by the US president is changing world’s old paradigms. Starting from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson’s recommendations, who thought that the US should not be part of any permanent alliances or coalitions, because with the rules they have, it may affect country’s national interests, Donald Trump signed US’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement (about climatic changes), because applying it would have involved more costs for the American producers in applying nonpolluting technologies. Furthermore, the US left the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership), signed by 11 members, Great Britain being one of them, as well as the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). The reason for not signing these treaties was, according to Trump’s statements, the negative trade balance the US had with some of the states from the mentioned treaties and partnerships, hence, it was affecting the national interest. At once, we can think about Trump’s Administration decisions to increase the income taxes for some products, like the steel and aluminum from the European Union, as well as many products from China. Applying the electoral catchphrase America Frist, the US President firmly imposed the national interest in the detriment of any possible evanescent advantages. He is a self-declared nationalist and patriot, despite the opinion of other leaders, connecting the two concepts one to another.

Signing the NAFTA treaty, at the end of 2018, wherefrom the US initially got out, is a proof that, through negotiations, the US can reconsider some decisions when these are matching its national interests. If we add that he accepted a moratorium about the import/export taxes increase with China, we can say that in 2019, through negotiations, they can find win-win situations type. Often, US’s Administration effects and behavior regarding the international relations, is based on the principles and tricks used in commerce, wherein Trump has the experience of an ex-successful business man. Keeping his specific rhetoric, probably in 2019, Trump will be, in comparison with 2018, more opened to negotiate commercial aspects with his old partners. If they will identify the American national interests in those specific negotiations, the US will be a predictable negotiation partner.

In 2019, the US will be firmly involved in defending its main partners. According to the National Security Strategy these are Israel and the NATO member states. As for the relation with NATO, the US will continue to be Alliance’s most important member and it will directly participate at ensuring the security of the other states which are part of the Alliance. Probably, after withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Treaty, the US will dislocate missiles systems from this category in the states from NATO’s east border, as a response to Russia’s actions. In the relation with the rest of Alliance’s member states, especially with France and Germany, the US will keep tis firm position to impose a financial contribution of 2% to develop these states’ national defence capacities, but also for NATO’s programs and missions. It will probably accept a plan to reach this goal.

In 2019, the US relations with the European Union will probably be more opened to dialogues. The relation with Great Britain will remain positive for the benefit of both states. United Kingdom’s possible isolation against the EU, after Brexit, will be replaced with the transatlantic relation.

Perhaps the US relation with France will be improved in 2019. During the manifestations in Paris and other cities, the protestants were chanting for the relations with the US, given its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Macron, will probably no longer need other internal dispute elements and he will avoid to take a stance against the US. Actually, his credibility is taking down, not only in France, but also in other European states and also in the US. This is why his stances, on an international plan, at least for a limited period of time, will not be as firm and contradictory as they used to be.

In 2019, the US relation will Germany may have an undisturbed statements pathway. Both parts know perfectly their positions, hence retaking the discussions on the same topics will help none of the partners. The US, through its pragmatic approach, although it will not officially say it, might accept that a Europe with Merkel in its leadership, it is better than one without her. Merkel’s early overthrow from Germany’s chancellor position would complicate even more the European security, which is not something that Trump wants.

The US relation with Russia will get worse in 2019, and we may witness some regional confrontations. The Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, Ukraine and other world’ s areas may raise some challenging actions, but also similar responses. The decision to withdraw the American forces from Syria, does not take down the possibility of some confrontations. Russia’s aggressive arming program, as well as increasing its Armed Forces training level is revealing that, for Russia, a major confrontation is possible at any time.

In 2019, the US may increase the pressures against Iran, taking opposed stances comparing with other world powers like: Russia, China, Germany or France. Stating that Israel is the main ally and partner, the US will do anything possible to ensure the security of this state. Even if they are just starting this partnership, any threats against Israel will be a threat against the US.

From US’s Congress recent resolution, against Saudi Arabia, about the Khashoggi case, the relations between the two countries started to worsen. The signs of some tense positions will probably continue in 2019 also. Both states economic interests, as well as the existence of a common enemy, Iran, will not amplify these tensions which, by starting in the second part of 2019, will slowly pass in the second plan of both states’ interests.

As for the relation with Iran, the US will upkeep the same firm position for 2019 also, and we may witness some economic sanctions for the companies which have economic relations with companies from Iran, and their refusal as business partners with US companies.

In 2019 we may also see a second meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, the North Korea leader. Alike the first meeting, in 2018, it will not bring any spectacular changes in both states’ relations, but it will be another small step in taking down this tension.

The US and China have huge mutual interests. The so-called trade war, started in 2018 between the two states, entered in the moratorium phase. The statistics are showing that this war affects the US economy more than China’s one. US’s trade deficit with China is smaller than the one with Germany. This is the reason why, regarding China, 2019 will be more like a negotiation’s year, than a confrontation one.

2018 was US’s electoral year. The Republican Party won the Senate, and the Democratic Party won Deputies House. Therefore, in 2019, it will be difficult for Trump to pass through the US Congress the laws he wants, as easily as he did it in 2018. The biggest issue is the one related to president’s possible rescission. According to US’s legislation, it could be initiated and developed by the Deputies House and finally approved by the Senate. Even if a report of Deputies House could propose president’s rescission it may not be approved by the Senate, which is majoritarian republican. Still, starting such a procedure would damage president’s image, especially regarding the 2020 elections. But such an issue cannot be out in the cold in 2019. The changes made in the administration, but especially in the Defence Department, from James Mattis’s resignation, to the changes which are to be made in US’s Armed Forces leadership, are asking for more attention from all world’s states to president Trump’s decisions.