The Changing US Role in the World

07.24.17 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

By its actions and its refusals to act, the Trump Administration is changing the profile of the United States in global affairs.

Whether demonstrating disdain for longtime allies, disrupting diplomatic relationships and international agreements, or cultivating ties with authoritarian figures in Russia and elsewhere, President Trump seems to be radically altering the character and meaning of American foreign policy. But to what end?

A new report from the Congressional Research Service tries to sort through the situation, and to advise Congress on its options under the circumstances.

For the last 70 years, the U.S. has sought “to promote and defend the open international order that the United States, with the support of its allies, created in the years after World War II,” according to CRS. That may no longer be the case.

But exactly how the direction of U.S. policy is changing, whether it should change, and what it should change to are all subject to dispute. The new CRS report, by specialists Ronald O’Rourke and Michael Moodie, presents the fundamental policy questions on a fairly abstract level, without mentioning Putin, Merkel, Duterte, or other leaders with whom the Trump Administration has acted to modify U.S. relations.

See U.S. Role in the World: Background and Issues for Congress, July 12, 2017.

Scorning multilateral trade agreements, the Trump Administration risks diminishing the U.S. role in setting the rules for international trade, another new CRS publication said. A pending Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Japan could also work to the disadvantage of U.S. firms by “increas[ing] the relative price of U.S. goods and services exports to both the EU and Japan, lowering their competitiveness in key U.S. markets.” See The Proposed EU-Japan FTA and Implications for U.S. Trade PolicyCRS Insight, July 14, 2017.

Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Foreign Affairs Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) Funding: Background and Current StatusCRS In Focus, July 19, 2017

Reform of U.S. International Taxation: Alternatives, updated July 21, 2017

Accounting and Auditing Regulatory Structure: U.S. and International, July 19, 2017

Economic Impact of Infrastructure Investment, July 18, 2017

Pending ACA Legal Challenges Remain as Congress Pursues Health Care ReformCRS Legal Sidebar, updated July 13, 2017:

The Nuclear Ban Treaty: An OverviewCRS Insight, July 10, 2017