03:56 GMT +319 September 2018
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    #First100Days: Trump Turns to 'Foreign Policy as Sheet Anchor'

    © Sputnik / Mikhail Voskresenskiy
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    United States President Donald Trump was actively engaged in foreign policy during his first hundred days in office, undertaking a series of controversial and at times debatable initiatives aimed at diverting the attention away from his domestic troubles, Grigory Dubovitsky wrote for RIA Novosti.

    Trump's contradictory foreign policy statements "could bewilder even seasoned diplomats," the analyst pointed out. "For his part, the current US president views them as pointing to his resilience and an ability to make deals since he is a self-styled dealmaker-in-chief who has earned a fortune."

    In the three months since his inauguration, the White House had carried out a massive airstrike against Damascus, dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan and has found itself on the verge of an armed conflict with North Korea.

    In addition, the fate of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a deal between the P5+1 countries and Iran on Tehran's nuclear program, remains unclear. Trump has been critical of both deals, indicating at times that the US could withdraw from both.

    Trump "has used the international arena to perform for his domestic audience whose support he will need [for the 2020 presidential election]," Dubovitsky noted.

    Relations with Russia have also been a major topic in the US. Trump repeatedly said that Washington should mend ties with Moscow ruined under the Obama administration. However, instead of improving the strained relationship Trump was forced to fight accusations that his team had illicit dealings with Russia. The Kremlin has always denied these claims, which have not been supported by any hard evidence.

    Trump's other domestic misfortunes included the lack of support for the GOP health care plan, which was meant to repeal and replace Obamacare, as well as the failure to push through an executive order on immigration and later its revised version.

    "In moments like these, world leaders tend to turn to foreign policy as a sheet anchor. Foreign policy victories could boost international clout and prestige at home," the analyst said.  "For Trump, Syria has become such a sheet anchor."

    Dubovitsky was referring to the Pentagon's massive airstrike on the Shayrat air base, unleashing 59 Tomahawk missiles on a military facility operated by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). The operation was carried out as retaliation to President Bashar al-Assad allegedly use of chemical weapons against civilians on the outskirts of Khan Shaykhun, a town in the rebel-held province of Idlib.

    US officials have not provided any evidence proving that Damascus was complicit. For its part, the Syrian leadership and the SAA command denied using chemical weapons against civilians. Moscow and Damascus condemned the Pentagon's operation, which was not authorized by the UN Security Council.

    Washington's unprecedented offensive came in sharp contrast to the White House's previous statements on its priorities in the war-torn Arab country. Earlier, Trump repeatedly said that fighting radical groups and Daesh in particularly was the highest priority of his administration in the Middle East.

    "One could have hardly expected that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to Moscow would result in a 'reset' [in America's relations with Russia] following these aggressive actions," the analyst said. However, "even if Trump wanted to send a signal to Russia with this military operation, it has had an adverse effect. Moscow suspended a memorandum on flight safety over Syria soon after [the Pentagon's airstrike]."

    Dubovitsky maintained that the operation in Syria was also aimed at sending a message to NATO, China and North Korea.

    The North Korean issue, as well as President Bashar al-Assad's alleged chemical attack grabbed the headlines in the US and across the globe.

    "The alleged 'Russian interference' was forgotten to such an extent that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has publicly expressed discontent with the slow pace of the investigation. His message did not fall on deaf ears. On Thursday, the Pentagon launched a probe into Mike Flynn, Donald Trump's former national security adviser," Dubovitsky said. "Trump's diversionary tactics worked, but for a while."

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    Tags:
    US foreign policy, foreign policy, Donald Trump, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), China, Syria, United States
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