January 20 marks the first anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, the day he took the oath of office as president after a long election campaign in 2016 in which he promised to cut down on illegal immigration, create more jobs, and avoid long-term military engagements abroad.
Economic Gains / Other ‘Wins’
Reflecting his lifelong career in business, Trump’s main achievements have come in the economic sector where he consistently stuck to and labored to achieve the specific goals he expressed during his 2016 election campaign.
"Outside the Beltway, among ‘real Americans’ who lead normal lives, Trump’s first year has been a smashing success," former adviser to Senate Republican leaders Jim Jatras told Sputnik.
Legislative shortfalls have barely registered in a happy-news list of improved job creation, stock market record highs, higher consumer confidence, and an apparent drop-off in illegal alien entries and even indications of self-deportations, Jatras said.
"In the Heartland Reality, Trump is moving decisively to dredge the swamp via a flurry of executive actions to step up border enforcement, cancel the Paris Climate Agreement, pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), unblock the Keystone Pipeline," he stated.
Independent Institute Center for Peace & Freedom Director Ivan Eland told Sputnik that Trump was most successful in fulfilling his domestic agenda.
"His major ‘wins’ are the tax cut, getting [Justice Neil] Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, getting rid of the Obamacare mandate, getting rid of the TPP, and some deregulation of industry," Eland said.
Former European Union adviser Paolo von Schirach told Sputnik that Trump’s deregulation policy had made a positive impact on the domestic economy.
"A major achievement is that his administration dismantled many rules and restrictions imposed by Obama, mostly through executive orders, on industry, business and energy companies," he said.
Trump had issued a standing order to deregulate almost every economic activity in order to make it as easy as possible for companies to operate without having to worry about compliance with a myriad of norms, Schirach, president of the Global Policy Institute, commented.
Furthermore, the just-passed major tax reform bill is presented by the Trump administration as additional strong evidence of its pro-growth policies, the opposite of the alleged anti-business leanings of the Obama team, Schirach remarked.
Although Trump saw big wins on the economic front, he also experienced many failures that have left his performance record mixed, experts said.
"Objectively it’s been a most successful year," George Mason University Law Professor Francis Buckley told Sputnik. "But for every accomplishment, it seems, there’s an equal and opposite gaffe."
However, inside the Washington Beltway, Trump’s one and only real legislative achievement has been the tax bill, Jatras cautioned.
"Other priorities from building the Mexican Wall to rebuilding our infrastructure to Obamacare repeal to defunding Planned Parenthood to putting a stop to ‘sanctuary’ cities and states are going nowhere fast," Jatras said.
A solid phalanx of hostile Democrats, with their media and establishment allies, has joined hands with Republicans in Congress to thwart Trump at every turn, Jatras claimed.
Eland cautioned that several political wins Trump was proud of were likely to backfire on him and on the United States.
"Bones he threw to his base are bad for the country: The tax cuts will explode the already huge national debt, thus dragging the US economy in the long term. Exiting the TPP, and in general, his protectionist views, make the US poorer," Eland said.
Eland was also concerned that Trump had further isolated the United States in international affairs and escalated global tensions.
"He has accelerated US wars against terror in the developing world, including Syria… Also, he has irresponsibly threatened nuclear war with North Korea twice, and his excessively pro-Israel policy threatens [previous president Barack] Obama’s much-needed nuclear agreement with Iran," he said.
Trump’s first term has seen US-Russian relations hit all-time lows with his administration levying waves of sanctions against Moscow, sparking a diplomatic war that has led to the expelling of diplomats and closing of facilities, along with a Justice Department attack on Russian media by forcing RT and Sputnik to register as foreign agents.
Jatras warned that prospects for improvement of relations with Russia are virtually zero, and chances are high things will get much worse.
"Even Trump’s own administration is rife with untrustworthy neoconservatives, treacherous ‘Never Trump’ Republicans, and even alleged cronies of George Soros, whom Trump has drawn to his bosom like so many asps," he said.
In foreign policy, the one area of bipartisan ‘progress’ was the passage of a bill to strip Trump of his constitutional authority to make foreign policy, especially toward Russia, Jatras recalled.
Early hopes of US-Russia cooperation in Syria against terrorists have given way to a continued illegal US presence east in the Euphrates, Jatras pointed out.
US policymakers now talk of standing up a ‘New Syrian Army’ backed by the CIA which is rife with recycled al-Qaeda and Daesh members (both banned in Russia), Jatras said. Not to mention Trump’s decision to arm Kiev, he added.
"[Deploying] American advisers on the ground near the conflict line in the Donbas moves us closer to military confrontation," Jatras said.
Domestic political pressures had frustrated Trump in the hopes he repeatedly expressed during the 2016 election campaign of improving relations with Russia, Schirach acknowledged.
"Continuing disagreement on Syria, Iran and Ukraine, coupled with the persistent political cloud on Trump caused by the ongoing investigation on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections, makes it difficult to create a new, more relaxed atmosphere," Schirach said.
Trump’s political weakness had, therefore, strengthened the US foreign policy establishment which was still rooted in older ways of thinking, Buckley concluded.
The views and opinions expressed by Jim Jatras, Ivan Eland, Francis Buckley and Paolo von Schirach are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.