Before handing the keys to the White House to Donald Trump, Barack Obama is taking a final, presidential lap around the world.
Obama started his three country trip in the birthplace of democracy, Greece. Then it’s on to Berlin to thank Chancellor Angela Merkel for her support during his term. The pair will also meet with the leaders of Great Britain, France, Italy and Spain. Afterward, Obama flies to Peru for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
In each stop, American allies, and perhaps some foes, will seek reassurance from Obama about the future under a Trump presidency.
With names like former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, Senate Foreign Relations chairman Bob Corker and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley floated as possible choices for Trump’s Secretary of State, there is no shortage of foreign policy speculation and suggestions.
America’s Friendship with Europe Has Been Horribly Damaged
David Frum – The Atlantic
Under Barack Obama as under his predecessor, (Germany and the U.S.) have drifted apart for reasons bigger than personality or policy….On issues from the defense of Ukraine against Russian invasion to the right way to accelerate European economic growth, Obama and Merkel have disagreed more than they have agreed. Obama’s Syrian policy has accelerated the Middle Eastern migration flow that has ripped the European Union and smashed German political consensus.
Yet even in the face of all these strains and difficulties, German friends of the United States have retained one clinching argument and decisive asset on their side of the debate: a wide and deep public intuition that people highly critical of the United States were probably animated by extremist and illiberal ideas. So long as the Germans most hostile to the U.S. alliance espoused various shades of fascism and communism, then the mighty German middle would cling determinedly to the U.S. alliance as a bulwark of stability and liberalism.
The election of Donald Trump to the presidency up-ends German political assumptions about the United States, at a time when Germans are already ready to have those assumptions up-ended.
WATCH: President Obama delivers speech in Athens, Greece Wednesday November 16, 2016
Attention U.S. Allies: This Is Not a Drill
Lawrence Freedman – Foreign Policy
The challenge for the allies will be to accept that this is a man who has reached power by denouncing much that they hold dear. They will also have to recognize that they will be obliged to make their own concessions. Their priority must be to avoid massive disruption to the international order….
Then there is the question of America’s relationship with its NATO allies — which bears, in turn, on the question of Trump’s intent to develop a partnership with Russian President Vladimir Putin. That intent is quite astonishing and may even do some good…But Putin, having already invested in Trump (some would say he was instrumental in his election victory), will now expect to be repaid in some fashion.
A 3-Step Strategy for Trump on Ukraine
Jeffrey Burt, James Hitch, Peter Pettibone & Thomas Shillinglaw – The National Interest
First, Russia and the West should accommodate themselves to “agreeing to disagree” on the status of Crimea for the indefinite future….
Second, the parties must agree to maintain the status quo of Donbas as part of Ukraine, with an effectively enforced cease-fire.
Third, the United States, Europe, Russia and Ukraine should jointly evaluate and create a total aid package to achieve economic recovery in Ukraine….The premise is that the creation of an economically and politically viable Ukraine is in the long-term interest of all parties, including Russia.
How President-Elect Trump Can Get Early Points on the Russian Front
Jamil N. Jaffer & Daniel J. Rosenthal – U.S. News & World Report
Trump should immediately upon entering office send defensive materials and support – in the former of equipment and advisers – to Ukraine and demand that the Russian government return Edward Snowden to the United States to face criminal charges for leaking troves of classified information.
The first step would demonstrate President-elect Trump’s adherence to the First Marine Division’s motto, “no better friend, no worse enemy.” Namely that, as president, he will stand by our allies and friends in the world, defending them against aggression, while also being a resolute opponent to those who might threaten us or our allies….
Second, if President-elect Trump were to succeed in securing Snowden’s return to the United States, he would powerfully demonstrate his commitment to and support of the men and woman of the U.S. intelligence community, a critical component of the national security apparatus he is poised to lead.
A Foreign Policy for the Trump Administration
Fuad Suleiman – Washington Examiner
One key issue deals with negotiating international agreements. The multi-national agreement with Iran is considered by many as Obama’s biggest accomplishment in foreign affairs. It would not be easy to pivot away from the position taken during the campaign, but reality demands that the next administration continue to support the agreement, while also trying to involve Iran in solving regional problems. Regardless of how the future president feels about the pact, its unilateral abrogation would not sit well with other signatories, including America’s allies. It would not strengthen international trust in U.S. commitments, but would begin a downward cycle of action and reaction with Iran.
What Trump’s Election Could Mean for the Gulf Arab Countries
Hussein Ibish – The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington
[T]he biggest challenge will be how a President Trump will approach some of the issues closest to Gulf states’ national security agendas given the jarring foreign policy contradictions that emerged from the handful of themes repeated throughout his campaign, including his sympathy for aspects of Russian foreign policy combined with his evident hostility toward Iran.
From a Middle Eastern strategic perspective, this combination makes no sense, because Moscow and Tehran are increasingly finding themselves on the same page on many of the most pressing regional strategic issues, especially those that are paramount in the security files of the Gulf states, such as the regionalized civil wars in Syria and Yemen.
Why Trump Should Work with China
Kishore Mahbubani – CNN
America’s No. 1 priority has to be economic growth. The only way to meet the expectations of the millions who voted for Trump is to deliver a booming economy with jobs growing. One easy way to do it would be to unleash a surge in infrastructure spending. Having been a builder all his life, Trump, of all people, should understand the importance of infrastructure….
But a fiscally challenged America will not be able to unleash massive infrastructure spending. America needs a strong economic partner to achieve this. And the current infrastructure-building superpower is China.