President Trump: A Threat to International Diplomacy?

By: Julie Slama

This February, I had the opportunity to attend the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Bogota, Colombia. The summit, which drew 26 Nobel Peace Prize recipients and thousands of participants covering six continents, discussed hurdles to peace present in the world today. American presidents have a history of receiving the prize, but it seems that our current president is viewed by the laureates, and the global community as a whole, as an impediment to peace.

A common line at the conference reiterated by workshop leaders and the Nobel laureates themselves was “We need to focus on building bridges, not walls.” This line is in reference to President Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall along the Mexican border. In the peace, diversity, and inclusion session, panelists delivered their opening statements on President Trump’s policies, with a focus on his divisive stance on refugees and illegal immigration. Panelist Phil Lord went further, arguing that President Trump’s cabinet is illegitimate due to a lack of diversity and failure to reflect the American populace.

It was obvious that those at the conference see President Trump’s policies as a destabilizing and troubling force with regards to world peace, and I agree on some levels. President Trump’s executive order, entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” sparked the travel ban controversy, in part due to sloppy wording and overly broad application. The phrasing within the order presented enough ambiguity for the mainstream media to run reports around the clock about the president’s “Islamophobic” ban on immigration from the Middle East and Northern Africa. His comments to the media, including raising the possibility of using nuclear weapons against ISIS, have not been helpful to international stability. President Trump’s conduct on Twitter has been alarmingly informal. He has sparked controversy about everything from America’s “One China” policy to his response to comments about him by Meryl Streep DRA ‘75. His tone has been just as offhand over the phone to world leaders, who expressed shock at his ill-advised phone calls immediately after his election. He made headlines in February by getting into a heated exchange over the phone with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, creating controversy with one of our strongest allies.

I hope that President Trump finds a way to weave some diplomacy into his rhetoric. For a person holding the most powerful position on the planet, President Trump has been disturbingly cavalier in his executive orders, social media usage, and communications with other leaders. President Trump, and only President Trump, can make the decision to pursue more stable and well-thought out policies, and he’d better do it quickly- the world is watching.

Julie Slama is a junior in Ezra Stiles College.