When President Donald J. Trump addressed a joint session of Congress in February, he shared a vision for U.S. global leadership affirming that “our foreign policy calls for a direct, robust, and meaningful engagement with the world. It is American leadership based on vital security interests that we share with our allies across the globe.” In the first 100 days of the Trump Administration, the United States has embraced its role as a global leader by demonstrating strength and decisiveness on the world stage.
Taking Decisive Action to Destroy and Demolish ISIS
On January 28, the President signed an executive memorandum directing the Secretary of Defense to work with other cabinet members, including the Secretary of State, to develop a plan to defeat ISIS. In March, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the U.S. Department of State hosted the first full Meeting of the Ministers of the Global Coalition on the Defeat of ISIS since 2014. The 68-member Global Coalition, the largest international coalition in history, is joined together in common cause to reduce the threat that ISIS poses to international security through civilian and military efforts. The international partners gathered in Washington, DC to accelerate international efforts to defeat ISIS in the areas it holds in Iraq and Syria and maximize pressure on its branches, affiliates, and networks.
In his remarks before Coalition partners, Secretary Tillerson outlined how the Coalition’s military campaign in coordination with civilian stabilization and normalization efforts in Iraq and Syria will lead to the destruction of ISIS. Secretary Tillerson said, “President Trump, in his recent address to the joint session of Congress, made clear that it is the policy of the United States to demolish and destroy this barbaric terrorist organization. That is what we are going to do.”
Responding Swiftly to Syria’s Use of Chemical Weapons
The United States mounted a military and diplomatic response two days after the Syrian government's April 4 chemical weapons attack in Idlib province, which killed and injured hundreds of innocent Syrian people, including women and children,. The actions of the Assad regime were met with condemnation from numerous U.S. officials, including President Trump, Secretary Tillerson, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who spoke at an emergency session of the UN Security Council.
On April 7, President Trump ordered the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles aimed at Captain Airfield in Homs from which the assault was launched. Following the airstrike, Secretary Tillerson delivered remarks alongside National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, stating, “...[it is] important that some action be taken on behalf of the international community to make clear that the use of chemical weapons continues to be a violation of international norms.”
Demonstrating Strong Leadership at the United Nations
The Trump administration has taken a new approach to the United Nations (UN), standing strong with allies and calling out those who oppose the interests of the United States and international community in global peace and security. The United States has demonstrated active leadership at the UN, where we have a condemned Iran for its ballistic missile launch, and called for the international community to respond to the actions of North Korea.
On April 12, the United States and its allies put forward UN Security Council Resolution condemning the April 4 use of chemical weapons in Syria. The UNSC failed to adopt the draft resolution following a veto by the Russian Federation. However, in a diplomatic win, Beijing broke ranks with Moscow and sided with the United States by not objecting to a resolution condemning the chemical attack in Syria, leaving Russia isolated on the world stage in its support for Syria’s regime. In her remarks following the vote, Ambassador Haley urged “Russia to join forces with the overwhelming number of countries that are pushing for a political solution” in Syria.
Putting Iran “On Notice” For Provocative Action in Violation of Its International Obligations
The United States has taken a strong stance against continued provocative actions by Iran as it relates to nonproliferation and counterterrorism. .On March 21, the United States imposed sanctions on 30 foreign entities and individuals in 10 countries pursuant to the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA). These sanctions exemplify the U.S. government’s continued commitment to nonproliferation and the promotion of global stability and security.
On April 18, Secretary Tillerson announced the Trump administration's plans to conduct a review of U.S. Iran policy across the entire government. During a press availabilitythe next day, Secretary Tillerson asserted, “Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and is responsible for intensifying multiple conflicts and undermining U.S. interests in countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Lebanon, and continuing to support attacks against Israel.”
Ending Era of Strategic Patience with North Korea
Past efforts have failed to halt North Korea’s unlawful weapons programs and nuclear and ballistic missile tests. With each provocation, North Korea jeopardizes stability in Northeast Asia and poses a growing threat to our Allies and the U.S. homeland. North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is an urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority. Upon assuming office, President Trump ordered a thorough review of U.S. policy pertaining to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K.).
On April 26, Secretary of State Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Coats, along with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dunford, briefed Members of Congress on the review. The President’s approach aims to pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear, ballistic missile, and proliferation programs by tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with our Allies and regional partners. We are engaging responsible members of the international community to increase pressure on the D.P.R.K. in order to convince the regime to de-escalate and return to the path of dialogue. We will maintain our close coordination and cooperation with our Allies, especially the Republic of Korea and Japan, as we work together to preserve stability and prosperity in the region.
Over these first 100 days, President Trump has engaged directly with dozens of foreign leaders and enlisted top U.S. officials, including Secretary Tillerson, in this direct effort to maintain meaningful engagement with the world. Whether reassuring our allies in the Asia-Pacific, engaging in frank dialogue with Russian leaders in Moscow, or taking a stand at the United Nations against actions taken by Syria, the United States under President Trump has demonstrated strong leadership within the international community and that we will continue to take the lead on the global stage.
Editor's Note: This entry is also published on Medium.com/StateDept.