Donald Trump’s America First Program Will Make U.S. Weaker: Report

America’s influence on the world stage will decline in 2018 due to President Donald Trump’s America First policies, according to a new global risk report.

“The decline of US influence in the world will accelerate in 2018,” reads the study released Tuesday by Eurasia Group, a consultancy that advises hedge funds and multinational corporations about how politics will impact business.

“With little sense of strategic direction from the Trump White House, U.S. global power, used too aggressively by George W. Bush, then too timidly by Barack Obama, is sputtering to a stall,” the report finds.

01_01_TrumpGolf U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to play host to members of the U.S. Coast Guard he invited to golf at his Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, on December 29, 2017. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Under Trump’s America First policies—including his protectionism, unilateralist approach to foreign policy, and confusing tweets and rhetoric about U.S. allies—the American-led world order has “eroded,” write the report’s authors, Eurasia Group’s President Ian Bremmer and Chairman Cliff Kupchan.

Bremmer is a U.S. political scientist specializing in American foreign policy, and Kupchan is a former senior foreign policy adviser to the U.S. House of Representatives International Relations Committee.

“We now see more clearly a world without leadership,” Bremmer and Kupchan note, pointing out that no other country or set of countries appears ready to step in and rebuild it. All this is “significantly increasing global risk,” they write.

“In the 20 years since we started Eurasia Group, the global environment has had its ups and downs. But if we had to pick one year for a big unexpected crisis—the geopolitical equivalent of the 2008 financial meltdown—it feels like 2018. Sorry.”

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With global alliances and structures in a weakened state, the world is more prone to accidents and a major crisis developing, Bremmer and Kupchan argue, because “a misstep or misjudgment could provoke serious international conflict.”

Cyberattacks from hostile nations like 2017's crippling WannaCry virus, increased nuclear tensions with North Korea, the ongoing conflict in Syria, Russia's 2016 election meddling, and terrorism are among some of the major unknowns that could lead to conflict.

As the Trump White House faces increasing pressure from the Russia investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, the president is prone to lash out in unexpected ways and become erratic and unpredictable, they write.

This could lead to surprises like killing the Iran nuclear deal, a move opposed by Russia and several American allies that signed it because they say it increases global security by keeping the authoritarian regime from getting a nuclear weapon.

Since Trump has renounced Washington-led multilateralism on the world stage, there is a power vacuum that China is moving to fill, the report states. “Until last year, China had avoided talk of global leadership, but now China is setting international standards with less resistance than ever before.”

U.S. institutions like the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, judiciary, media, FBI and electoral system, are also all suffering partisan attacks from both the president and Republicans and are being weakened, they find.

Weak institutions, they say, heighten unpredictability as they act as the guardrails for policy-making and the future.

“Strong courts and media lessen dependence for stability on powerful (sometimes erratic) individuals,” Bremmer and Kupchan write. Without them, conflict “will become more frequent, decision-making degraded, and internal chaos common.”

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