09:13 GMT +325 February 2018
Listen Live
    U.S. President Donald Trump points to a large Merry Christmas card on the stage as he arrives to deliver remarks on tax reform in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. November 29, 2017

    Paris, Syria, Iran, North Korea, Jerusalem: Donald Trump’s Year That Was

    © REUTERS/ Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
    Opinion
    Get short URL
    122

    Looking back over the previous 12 months, the US president has cause for celebration and reflection, with occasional success in implementing his promised policies, and significant resistance to others.

    Amid continuous scandal and calls for his impeachment, US President Donald Trump has made it to the end of his first year in office. He has however also ended the year as the most unpopular American leader at the same point in his presidency since polling records began. Associated Press put his approval rating December 22 at 32 percent, while Gallup placed him on 35 percent.

    The president's first year was characterized by attempts to enforce campaign promises that invited widespread opposition both domestically and internationally, setting the tone for a tumultuous presidency.

    Paris Climate Accord

    Among his first major policy implementations as president and one that he promised on the 2016 Campaign Trail was to announce the US' withdrawal from the Paris Climate which commits signatory states to reducing their emissions of carbon dioxide to keep global average temperatures from rising by 2 degrees Celsius by 2040.

    Environmental activists display banners during a protest in support of the Paris climate accord as part of the One Planet Summit in Paris, France, December 12, 2017
    © REUTERS/ Charles Platiau
    Environmental activists display banners during a protest in support of the Paris climate accord as part of the One Planet Summit in Paris, France, December 12, 2017
    In 2016 then candidate Trump had claimed the Agreement would strangle US energy sector, particularly the coal industry which he has sought to revive. The earliest date the United States can withdraw from the Accord is 2020, leaving open the possibility of the US remaining in the event of a new president being elected in that year.

    Syria Airstrike

    In the course of the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump had attacked the interventionist policies of presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton especially in regards to Syria and Iraq.

    On April 7, however, he stunned even many of his supporters by authorizing the launching of missile strikes on an airbase of the Syrian Army after an alleged chemical attack in the town of Khan Shaykhun. The perpetrators of the attack have still not been identified by a UN investigation, however the US president and his ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley immediately held Syrian president Bashar al-Assad responsible.

    While the missile attack caused many of his own supporters to begin doubting the sincerity of his non-interventionist promises, the attack received widespread approval in the American media, with many prominent commentators identifying it as the point at which he, "became presidential."

    Iran Nuclear Agreement

    Having condemned as a candidate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, agreed between the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and Iran to suspend elements of the latter's nuclear program, as president, Mr. Trump set about indicating that he was intending to sink the agreement altogether and re-impose sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Despite the International Atomic Energy Agency's repeated certifications that Iran is complying with the terms of the agreement, President Trump has persisted in claiming the Islamic Republic is not complying with "the spirit of the agreement."

    His decertification of Iranian compliance with the JCPOA and his insistence that Congress reimpose sanctions within 60 days or he will, drew hostile responses even from close US allies. Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign policy chief flatly rejected the US' ability to sink the agreement, saying that no single country could do so.

    She also reiterated that the Agreement could not be renegotiated. The German Foreign Minister also ominously warned that the US scuttling of the deal could have profound geopolitical consequences globally, hinting that EU states would pursue closer economic relations with Russia and China rather than go along with a renewed US sanctions regime against Iran.

    North Korean Crisis

    Donald Trump's first appearance at the United Nations General Assembly set the stage for an unprecedented exchange of insults between the US and the North Korean leadership.

    A man watches a television screen showing U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news program at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea. (File)
    © AP Photo/ Ahn Young-joon
    A man watches a television screen showing U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news program at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea. (File)
    After having previously threatened to "rain fire and fury" on North Korea in response to its repeated nuclear weapons tests, President Trump used his UN address to the General Assembly to threaten the complete destruction of the nuclear-armed nation. He caused similar outrage by his references to the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as "Rocket Man," which led to return fire from Pyongyang calling the president a "dotard."

    Jerusalem

    As 2017 drew to a close, president Trump upended 50 years of American diplomatic precedent by formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and announcing his intention to move the US embassy to the city from Tel Aviv. The decision caused immediate international outrage and protests across the Muslim world.

    The Palestinian group Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip called for a third Intifada or Palestinian uprising. The Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas lamented the move as signaling the end of the US-sponsored peace process begun in 1993 and has refused to accept any future American mediation in the conflict.

    Tax Cuts

    The president did manage to finish the year with one indiluted success however — the passage of his tax-cuts bill on December 19, featuring the largest reduction in US corporation tax-rates since the presidency of Ronald Reagan on whom Mr. Trump has sought to model his administration.

    U.S. President Donald Trump displays his signature after signing the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul plan along with a short-term government spending bill in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S
    © REUTERS/ Jonathan Ernst
    U.S. President Donald Trump displays his signature after signing the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul plan along with a short-term government spending bill in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S

    Relying only on the slim Republican majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate, the bill successfully brings down the rate of tax large companies in the US will pay from 35 to 21 percent, starting in 2018. The plan has received widespread criticism from the Democratic Party and progressive activists who see the bill as a give-away to the rich which will have little to no positive impact on on most of the population. Nonetheless, Trump signed the bill into law December 22. 

    Related:

    #FNN, Kim Jong-un, Covfefe, Saudis: President Donald Trump's Top Tweets in 2017
    Trump Signs $1.5 Trillion US Tax Bill Into Law - Reports
    Academic: Trump Has Brought a Degree of Chaos to the US Political System
    Trump Says Infrastructure 'Perfect Place' to Start Working With Democrats
    Tags:
    tax bill, 2017, US President, nuclear deal, politics, political crisis, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Paris Climate Accord, United Nations, UN, UN General Assembly, Nikki Haley, Bashar al-Assad, Sigmar Gabriel, Federica Mogherini, Donald Trump, Kim Jong-un, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), Iran, Palestine, Israel, Syria, United States, Jerusalem
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik
    • Сomment