Putting all divided opinions and criticisms aside, a New York property tycoon occupying the most powerful office in the world is changing the nature of politics. Beyond all the talk (well, more so all the tweeting), since being elected Donald Trump has been less than inspiring in the way of implementing new foreign policy. The President’s administration has not yet delivered on the controversial sweeping promises of his electoral campaign. Shockingly, he is yet to build a wall! However, despite a lack of physical policy, there has most certainly been a Donald Trump effect on foreign affairs.
We now find ourselves in a world where international politics is treated as a matter of business. As I am sure most people are aware, on his recent and somewhat unwelcome visit, Donald Trump was interviewed by Piers Morgan (a rare occasion where Piers is joined by someone even less agreeable than himself). As I watched this interview, a style of boardroom politics became clear to me. Trump described the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un as ‘ruthless’. However, he did not seem in the slightest bit intimidated by this, making it clear that this ruthless nature is not only true of North Korea’s leader, but that international politics is seemingly littered with these ‘ruthless’ types too. Trump’s confidence in handling such ruthless individuals must derive from a life in business, which perhaps is much more compatible with a career in politics than many people have imagined.
From the beginning of Trump’s whirlwind involvement in US politics, if you had a pound for every time he has talked about trade deals, you might actually be able to afford to stay in one of his hotels. Trump has looked at America’s foreign involvements through the lens of putting America first. The president is interested in what America is getting out of the existing trade deals they are involved in. His America first approach sees a departure from the compassionate, conservative ideas introduced in George Bush’s New World Order after the Cold War. In true business style, Trump is not afraid to admit this. In the aforementioned interview with Piers Morgan, he admits that when it comes to any Brexit trade deal with Britain he will naturally be putting American interests firsts. He also prompts that it is obvious that Theresa May should put Britain first when entering a deal, and that this should be the case for any leader and their country.
So it seems that Trump’s foreign policy is underpinned by self-interest, as is the free market business world that he comes from. With America being such a powerful state it is inevitable that Trump’s approach will produce a similar style of negotiation across the international system. Thus, in a foreign policy setting of self-interest, skilled negotiation and compromise will be demanded.
Furthermore, a cut-throat world of foreign policy likens smaller developing countries to smaller developing businesses in the business world. How will these weaker states fair in self-interested negotiation with the political and economic giants?
The effects of the business era of politics will continue to unfold. President Trump seems determined to be direct in his foreign affairs. In the last few weeks, his visits to North Korea, Great Britain and Russia have shown a businessman who is ready to negotiate with adversaries and allies alike. Perhaps in the near future we may just see one of those ‘great trade deals’ that Trump has so often mentioned.