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Global Concerns Regarding American Foreign-Policy Before Trump’s Speech

he United States must use all of its economic and political tools to continue supporting the restoration of democracy in Venezuela," New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee.

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The U.S. Capitol Building as seen Nov., 19, 2011. VOA

From Russia to Venezuela, U.S. lawmakers highlighted weighty global concerns and American foreign-policy challenges on the eve of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address to Congress.

A top Democrat on Monday savaged Trump’s handing of matters on the world stage.

“Tomorrow, the president will say, predictably, that the state of our union is strong,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said. “But the truth is … the state of the president’s foreign policy is incoherent, inconsistent, cynical in the extreme, and has undermined American power and our national interest.”

Schumer added, “Russia, China, North Korea — three of the worst and least democratic countries on Earth, the countries that pose the greatest threat to America — they are treated with kid gloves, while our allies, like those in NATO, get harsh words from this president. It’s inside-out, it’s topsy-turvy.”

Not so, according to Nebraska Republican Sen. Deb Fischer, who pointed to the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw the United States from the 1980s-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with the former Soviet Union, calling it a “tough but correct” decision.

FILE - Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, April 8, 2014.
Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, April 8, 2014.

“The administration is right to leave the agreement, and responsibility for the failure of the INF Treaty lies squarely with Russia,” Fischer said. “The United States must now take additional steps to ensure that Russia derives no military advantage from its blatant violation of this accord. We must impose costs on Russia. Again, they are building banned weapons systems. We are not.”

Trump’s decision, which he is likely to highlight in the foreign policy portion of Tuesday’s address, has sparked grave concerns from Democrats.

“I have no doubt that Russia is in violation of the INF Treaty,” Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said in a statement. “I am concerned, though, that the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the treaty without a clear plan for bringing Russia back into compliance will lead to a new arms race and endanger the people of the United States and Europe.”

Troops in Syria

Trump is preparing his speech weeks after announcing a planned U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria, hailing progress in the fight against Islamic State.

On Monday, the Senate continued to debate a Middle East policy bill, including a Republican amendment expressing concern over precipitous military withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan.

“We simply cannot afford to leave a vacuum in places where terrorists … can lodge, grow, train, and then export their terrorist attacks,” Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said, urging the administration “not to take our foot off the gas pedal” in the fight against violent extremists.

FILE - Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, takes questions during a TV news interview on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 26, 2018.
Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, takes questions during a TV news interview on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 26, 2018. VOA

But another Republican, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, applauded Trump’s announcement.

“We stand with you @realDonaldTrump! Time to declare victory, end these wars and focus on rebuilding our own homeland. Don’t listen to the naysayers in the swamp, you are making the right decision!” Paul tweeted.

Democrat Chris Murphy also opposes the amendment, but for very different reasons. On Twitter, the Connecticut senator urged his colleagues to “read every word of the amendment,” adding that he fears open-ended troop commitments in the Islamic world will lay the groundwork “for an unauthorized war with Iran.”

Venezuela crisis

Turmoil in Venezuela is also on lawmakers’ minds, with members of both parties broadly standing behind the Trump administration’s embrace of opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio wants the administration to go further.

“(Thirteen) European nations now recognize Interim President @jguaido as legitimate leader of #Venezuela. Next logical steps: – seize #MaduroRegime assets in their respective countries & place at the disposal of the legitimate govt; and – contribute to intl humanitarian relief efforts,” Rubio tweeted.

Many Democrats are satisfied with Trump’s steps regarding Venezuela, but add a note of caution.

FILE - Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., speaks to members of the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 28, 2018.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., speaks to members of the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 28, 2018. VOA
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“The United States must use all of its economic and political tools to continue supporting the restoration of democracy in Venezuela,” New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, wrote in an opinion piece for the Miami Herald newspaper. “However, it would be a huge mistake for the Trump administration to miscalculate in any way, leading to a military intervention involving U.S. troops.”

Menendez added, “Such a move, while Trumpesque in its fire and fury, would be a death blow to the very credibility of Venezuela’s burgeoning democratic movement. The freedom of the Venezuelan people can only come from their own hands.” (VOA)

Next Story

Support for U.S. President Donald Trump Increases Slightly among Republicans

Trump, who is seeking re-election next year, has lost support, however, with Democrats and independents

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US, President, Donald Trump
President Donald Trump listens during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, July 16, 2019, in Washington. VOA

Support for U.S. President Donald Trump increased slightly among Republicans after he lashed out on Twitter over the weekend in a racially charged attack on four minority Democratic congresswomen, a Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll shows.

The national survey, conducted on Monday and Tuesday after Trump told the lawmakers they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” showed his net approval among members of his Republican Party rose by 5 percentage points to 72%, compared with a similar poll that ran last week.

Trump, who is seeking re-election next year, has lost support, however, with Democrats and independents since the Sunday tweetstorm.

Among independents, about three out of 10 said they approved of Trump, down from four out of 10 a week ago. His net approval – the percentage who approve minus the percentage who disapprove – dropped by 2 points among Democrats in the poll.

US, President, Donald Trump
President Donald Trump portrays Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., left, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., 2nd left, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY., 3rd left, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., right, as foreign-born troublemakers. VOA

Trump’s overall approval remained unchanged over the past week. According to the poll, 41% of the U.S. public said they approved of his performance in office, while 55% disapproved.

The results showed strong Republican backing for Trump as the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives passed a symbolic resolution on Tuesday, largely along party lines, to condemn him for “racist comments” against the four Democratic lawmakers.

All four U.S. representatives – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan – are U.S. citizens.

Three were born in the United States.

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The public response to Trump’s statements appeared to be a little better for him than in 2017, after the president said there were “very fine people” on both sides of a deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In that instance, Trump’s net approval dropped by about 10 points a week after the Charlottesville rally.

This time, while Democrats and some independents may see clear signs of racial intolerance woven throughout Trump’s tweets, Republicans are hearing a different message, said Vincent Hutchings, a political science and African-American studies professor at the University of Michigan.

“To Republicans, Trump is simply saying: ‘Hey, if you don’t like America, you can leave,” Hutchings said. “That is not at all controversial. If you already support Trump, then it’s very easy to interpret his comments that way.”

US, President, Donald Trump
The national survey, conducted on Monday and Tuesday after Trump told the lawmakers they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Pixabay

By criticizing liberal members of the House, Trump is “doing exactly what Republicans want him to do,” Hutchings said. “He’s taking on groups that they oppose.”

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The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English and gathered responses from 1,113 adults, including 478 Democrats and 406 Republicans in the United States. It has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of 3 percentage points for the entire group and 5 points for Democrats or Republicans. (VOA)