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President Trump’s "bold new diplomacy" and global relationships

David Brancaccio Feb 6, 2019
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during their historic summit at the Capella Singapore hotel on Sentosa Island on Tuesday.
Handout/Getty Images

President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address covered many domestic issues: employment, wages, immigration, taxes, education, but also focused on foreign policy and the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate -Range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia.

“We really have no choice. Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others, or perhaps we can’t — in which case, we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far.”

For more on this and other foreign policy notes in the State of the Union address — including a scheduled summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un —Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio spoke with Ian Bremmer, founder of the Eurasia Group, a global risk consultancy. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation. 

Ian Bremmer: We are right now certainly outspending all others, mostly out-innovating them — certainly when you talk about conventional military capabilities. But the transatlantic relationship is getting a lot weaker, and when you talk about unwinding the INF [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces] Agreement, which looks almost certain to happen, and I don’t see us renegotiating a new one anytime soon, the countries that are going to experience the brunt of that are going to be on the European continent, and they are going to increasingly go their own way. You’re going to weaken that relationship. Their commitment to NATO itself will be lower, and that obviously makes life a little bit more challenging.  

David Brancaccio: The president did use this phrase last night in this regard, calling for a “bold new diplomacy.” Maybe that could help fix that with Europe?

Bremmer: Well there is a bold new diplomacy with North Korea, right? And I mean it’s certainly true that the United States and the North Koreans have broken through in terms of diplomatic engagement. While we don’t think they’re going to get rid of their nukes, certainly that means they’re less of a hermit kingdom. They’re engaging with the South Koreans economically because of that breakthrough. They’re engaged with the Chinese more, and, you know, I think the likelihood of war is a consequence that part of the world that’s really dangerous has gone down. But bold new diplomacy with the Europeans just means transactionalism, it means that there’s less trust, there’s less loyalty. And that becomes more expensive. It becomes more expensive when you have to work to convince countries to do what you want every single time on every issue because they’re either getting something from you for it or because they’re going to get hurt as a consequence.