Trump’s Foreign Policy Reduced America’s Global Standing In 2018

An overview of a tumultuous year on the world stage, including what Rantt predicted (and didn’t).

From Top Left: Chinese President Xi Jinping, US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Brazilian President-Elect Jair Bolsonaro, and French President Emmanuel Macron (Rantt Media/AP)

From Top Left: Chinese President Xi Jinping, US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Brazilian President-Elect Jair Bolsonaro, and French President Emmanuel Macron (Rantt Media/AP)

Rantt Media will be releasing its 2019 Predictions this week. The second, of what this correspondent hopes will be many iterations of this segment, will feature predictions about the year ahead from several Rantt writers on a variety of topics.

We would like to preface the segment by starting off by looking back at the past year, in order to see how we fared with our global predictions for 2018. Let’s see if we were worth our salt:

What We Got Right:

  • We predicted that President Trump will “become the world’s biggest impediment to global diplomacy and order,” and we believe we got that one right. Trump’s transactional, Twitter-laden diplomacy has consistently undermined America’s place in the world. His policies in 2018 – from the withdrawal from the Iran deal, to his frivolous tariff wars, to his subservience to Saudi clients, and most recently his withdrawal of Middle East troops – have strained global institutions and made the world less stable.
  • We also predicted that autocrats, in part due to Trump’s indifference to them, will be emboldened to pursue different means of suppression and militarism, and they have done so. Xi Jinping has greenlighted forced labor camps for Uighurs  and increased censorship for all of its citizens (and will continue to do so next year, with the anniversary of Tiananmen Square approaching.) Vladimir Putin has ratcheted tensions with Ukraine over Crimea. And Iran will look to bolster its sphere of influence in Syria, now that there are no US troops in the way.
  • In Latin America, we predicted the rise of populists on the left and right in Mexico’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, respectively. In AMLO, Mexico has a leader that is looking to make reforms to reduce poverty in corruption. In Bolsonaro, Brazil has a leader that is looking to bring back autocracy and demean minorities.
  • We had Jacob Zuma’s ouster on our list. Good for us, and South Africa.
  • We called France to win the World Cup. In January. We just might have a shot at sports predictions if this whole journalism thing doesn’t pan out…

Where We Missed the Mark:

  • At the beginning of the year, we hoped that leaders such as Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, and Justin Trudeau would pick up the mantle of global leadership that Trump left behind. None seemed up to the task, however. Merkel and Macron became bogged down in domestic problems, and Trudeau, while widely admired by progressives, does not extend much influence beyond North of the Border.
  • We predicted that tensions with Iran and North Korea would increase due to Trump’s belligerence, and that has thankfully not happened. In a surprise twist, few could have predicted, a detente ensued between Trump and Kim, leading to a summit in Singapore. While this has yielded little in the way of results on North Korean denuclearization, and a return to Kim’s belligerence is not out of the question, the possibility of nuclear war is more remote than it felt at the end of last year. Similarly, Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran deal should have led to increased chances for confrontation on that front. Credit the other countries’ staying in the deal for preventing that.
  • We called the rise of right-wing nationalism being a key trend in 2018, but not its main proponents. We focused a lot on Austria’s Sebastian Kurz due to his facsimile to a young Austrian charismatic populist of yore and his euro presidency position this year, as well as elections in Sweden and the Czech Republic as ones to watch as a gauge for populism’s rise. However, it was autocrats like Victor Orban in Hungary and Poland’s Law and Justice party that have carried the nationalist torch, and Italy’s election (see below) as its main harbinger. However, right-wingers’ imprint has been noticeable in global politics over the past year. From nativist economic policy to increased xenophobia, particularly as it related to migrants, nationalism’s effects have been felt and will take more than a year to do away with.
  • We predicted that Italy’s M5S will gain the most votes in Italy’s elections, but didn’t expect they would forge a governing coalition. Their subsequent populist bluster over the country’s debt nearly plunging the EU back to into a crisis was even more predictable, though.
  • We miscalled the Winter Olympics lead medal winners, as Norway dominated while our pick, the US, only got fourth. Let’s just say we’re no experts on the luge.

Tossups:

  • We predicted the demise of the Islamic State. While their clout has certainly dwindled, they are not gone outright, and with the pullout of US troops in the Middle East, they may yet experience a comeback.
  • The progress being made on major global issues is a manner of relative outlook. Optimists can point to progress on negotiations on ending the war in Yemen or increased climate change commitments. Most people, however, will call that a drop in the bucket. We fall on the latter side of the coin but are throwing this in here for hope’s sake.
  • The polls for elections in the Democratic of Congo have not yet closed, so we cannot officially say that our other predicted ouster, Joseph Kabila, has also gone.

Read tomorrow’s edition to find out our predictions for 2019.

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Global Outlook // Donald Trump / Vladimir Putin / World / Xi Jinping