Envoys mull impact of Trump foreign policy

As US Ambassador Matthew Barzun prepares to depart London, envoys have turned their thoughts to who will be the new occupant of Winfield House – and the impact a Trump presidency would have on foreign policy in their regions.

Speaking privately to Embassy, one Middle Eastern Ambassador voiced his concerns about President-elect Trump’s threats to tear up the Iran Nuclear deal. “This will be very worrying for security in our region,” he said.

The appointment of James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis – a known critic of Tehran and the Iran Nuclear Deal – as Secretary of Defense will add to the anxiety. For may Arab countries, Trump’s apparent support for Russia’s approach to the Syrian conflict is not welcome.

For Europeans, particularly those in Central and Eastern Europe, the President-elect’s luke-warm endorsement of Nato’s collective defence commitments has been sobering, as one Ambassador put it: “Maybe it is time for that we as Europeans do a bit more on our common defence because Uncle Sam might not always be there to come to our rescue,” he said. But European diplomats privately admit they need to beef up their defence spending.

Europeans also fear that a Trump victory has emboldened anti-establishment movements in EU countries going to the polls over the next few months. There are real concerns that Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi could lose the referendum on Sunday, sparking a political and possibly even a financial crisis.

Diplomats are also predicting a victory for the right-wing candidate Norbet Hofer in the re-run of the Austrian Presidential election and are increasingly uneasy about the French election next year, as one commented: “Before Brexit and Trump I would have thought a Le Pen victory was not possible. I still think it is not likely, because of the French electoral system, but it is possible she could win.”

Central Americans have been most fearful of the impact of Trump’s policy towards immigration – not only the threat to build a wall on the Mexican border, but also the deportation of migrants and the stopping of remittances, which support many families and is a valuable source of foreign exchange.

Those in Latin America and the Pacific fear the protectionism of a Trump administration who has threatened to back out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

All eyes are fixed on Washington as Trump engages in an Apprentice-style drama to pick his new Secretary of State. Frontrunners are former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the hawkish former UN Ambassador John Bolton, conservative former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Senator Mitt Romney, General David Petraeus and Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Corker, who would be the diplomats’ choice.

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