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President-Elect Trump Will Need Help

Yes, Donald J. Trump is the president-elect and will be the commander-in-chief of the most powerful, impactful, and influential country in the world—but also a nation in shock. However, Democrats and Republicans, Trump advocates and “Never Trump” supporters, and anti-Trump national security experts and officials must come together to address the threats that the United States will face in the first 100 days of the Trump Presidency.

Image courtesy of George Bush Presidential Library, © 2010

Image courtesy of George Bush Presidential Library, © 2010

Currently, the Trump administration is having difficulties lining up the expertise and knowledge possessed by national security and foreign policy practitioners for key policy positions. While there are still two months to inauguration day, it is of profound importance that anti-Trump GOP and Democrat national security leaders and experts put their differences aside in the foreign affairs realm to provide the finest counsel to the president-elect in order to protect the people and institutions of the United States. In his victory speech, Trump reached out for guidance and support in order to achieve unification, and this support might be ethically warranted. It is imperative for U.S. foreign policy and national security that there is a thoughtful attempt for coherent and common-sense policies that is not guaranteed by an isolated Trump figure.

“Foreign policy starts at home.” This thought prescribed by Richard Haass, might never be truer than it is today. Aging infrastructure, suffocating debt, immigration reform, energy policy, and health-care will all be issues tackled or readdressed during the next presidential administration, but domestic issues will not be the only item on the table for the new administration. As a unique world power, the United States’ focus demands immediate attention and strenuous devotion to global matters and regional and national security threats.

Here are some of the issues President-Elect Trump will face in his first 100 days of presidency.

In Asia, China’s island-building and Communist sedation will continue to exacerbate hostile tensions with neighboring states and the region as a whole. The on-going political scandal for South Korean President Park Geun-hye means uncertainty for a possible leaderless U.S. ally, one that will need massaging as it scrambles for domestic stability and serious threats from the North. In the wake of the Philippines’ realignment with China, Trump will need sober support in formulating policies, despite his rhetoric on the campaign-trail that range from nuclear-armament in the region, to balance of power theory, and shifting state-alliances. A glimmer of hope is the already planned meeting between President-elect Trump and President Abe of Japan scheduled for this month, which will hopefully lead to the reassurance of a vital strategic ally in East Asia.

For the Middle East, the Trump presidency will take a new approach in combating ISIS—both at home and abroad—which is a very delicate matter to put it politely. Iran continues to manipulate Iraq and sponsor terrorism through Hezbollah and Shiite proxies in Yemen, with the latter recently pursuing aggressive actions against the U.S. Navy in the Red Sea. Trump has also suggested he will scrap the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran Deal, so relations with Iran could likely become more rancorous than they already are.

Elsewhere in the region, Saudi Arabia is undergoing economic reform through the National Transformation Program initiative that is part of the broader economic plan dubbed Vision 2030. The optimistic and ambitious vision will surely require the president’s attention, as programs and policies will begin to rollout this spring that could have pulsating consequences. Trump’s altered stance in the Middle East, particularly toward counter-terrorism, will represent his foreign policy on a grander scale, necessitating the best and brightest who have expertise in these fields, but are also willing to take a hard stand on actions that would be illegal or ill-conceived.

The trickiest maneuvering will come in balancing the new administration’s ties to Russia and President Putin. This dynamic will cause contentious debate in Washington and will require restraint in juggling the competing interests of Russia and Europe. This is further fed by the rise of nationalism in Europe—Brexit in the United Kingdom, fragmentation in the European Union, and the National Front led by Marine Le Pen in France—that will demand U.S. diplomatic pressure and solitude in battling populist tensions. Additionally, Trump’s questioning of NATO’s Article 5 will augment an extra layer of complexity in which experts must be ready to address, and it is crucial that this voice comes from within the administration.

These are in no way the only challenges that await the new administration, but they offer a glimpse at the increasing complexities in the world, and now, more than ever, it is important that all hands are on deck. With allies and adversaries alike carefully examining the future of the United States, it is important to remember this: that while the red and blue electoral college map depicted a divided country, those same colors display unification, and in foreign policy and national security, the differences are no further apart than the red and blue of the American flag.


Caleb Marquis

Caleb is a master’s student at Johns Hopkins University, focusing on intelligence and security studies. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and Security Studies from Westminster College. His areas of interest include intelligence, U.S. foreign policy, international security, and political affairs. You can connect with him on Twitter @cmarquis15.
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