Leading foreign policy experts have weighed in on US President Donald Trump’s self-rating of an “A+” and his overall international diplomacy, with experts saying he deserves an F for being the “least competent president in 150 years”.
Mr Trump told Fox News in an interview that aired on Monday morning (Australian time), that he thought he was doing a great job as president.
“Look, I hate to do it, but I will do it. I would give myself an A+. Is that enough? Can I go higher than that?,” he said.
In light of this, The New Daily asked world-renowned foreign policy experts, including Harvard University international affairs Professor Stephen Walt, to assess Mr Trump’s first two years in office, and his relations with other countries.
We asked three experts to give Mr Trump a rating, which we then weighed out to a graded average.
Here’s Mr Trump’s report card, according to the experts.
In an interview with The New Daily, Harvard University’s Professor Walt, who holds the Robert and Renee Belfer Professorship in international affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, said Mr Trump deserved a D–.
“He’s the least competent president we’ve had in 150 years and in terms of his own A+ grade, he’s lied more frequently than any other president in living memory,” Professor Walt told The New Daily.
Dr Thomas Wright, expert in US foreign policy and Brookings Institution director of the Centre on the United States and Europe, said it was impossible to take Mr Trump’s self-grading seriously as he always gave himself the maximum grade.
“He can never admit to making mistakes, his flaws or imperfections … so obviously it’s completely ridiculous. He deserves an F overall for his presidency,” Dr Wright told The New Daily from Washington, DC.
“I would however give his administration a D because there are good people there who are trying to make the best out of a bad situation.”
Dr Rémy Davison, foreign policy expert at Monash University, said he rated the US president a D–.
“There’s been a remarkable amount of trade and financial instabilities induced in the system as well as strategic instability including [North Atlantic Treaty Organisation],” Dr Davison told The New Daily.
Average grade: E
Mr Trump may be touting his trade deal with Canada and Mexico as a victory, but complaints from liberals and conservatives are beginning to emerge that could sink the agreement in Congress.
In response to this, Harvard’s Professor Walt said Mr Trump deserved a D for his relations with Canada
“Canada’s a very friendly country and it’s meant to be a huge advantage for the United States to have such a good relationship with a country to our north,” Professor Walt said.
“But what Trump has managed to do is personally insult the Canadian prime minister on a number of occasions and to threaten it with very damaging trade sanctions in ways that seem to me that has fundamentally altered the way Canadians view the United States.”
Average grade: D+
Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto has in the past condemned what he called “threatening or disrespectful attitudes” from Mr Trump.
Brookings Institution Dr Wright said Mr Trump deserved a D grade for his relations with Mexico, and blamed him for causing further tensions.
“There’s no doubt that relations are difficult with Mexico. He has this regular blame game towards Mexico at a time when the immigration issue requires co-operation,” Dr Wright said.
“I wouldn’t give him an F because of the [North American Free Trade Agreement] deal but I wouldn’t give him higher than a D though because of all the other problems he’s started in the first place.”
Average grade: D
Professor Walt said while Mr Trump originally had positive relations with French President Emmanuel Macron, his most recent visit for Armistice Day was a “fiasco”.
“He didn’t join the other European leaders properly to commemorate the end of World War I and also then getting into a spat with Macron – it doesn’t do favours for anyone and makes his relations harder with other European leaders,” Professor Walt said.
“For this he deserves a D.”
Average grade: D
Dr Wright said Mr Trump had a serious problem with Germany that no one could quite explain.
“He deserves a definite F because he doesn’t get along with [German Chancellor Angela Merkel] but just has a broader problem with Germany and hasn’t accomplished anything of note and a lot has remained undone that needs to be done,” he said.
Professor Walt said Mr Trump’s dealings with Germany were no different to how he treated his relationship with Europe.
“He clearly regards Europe as a rival rather than a series of friendly countries to whom the United States is aligned,” he said.
“His behaviour towards Chancellor Merkel has been insulting and demeaning in a variety of different ways.
“He’s taken a divide and rule attitude towards Europe and that’s not in the best interests of the US.”
Average grade: E–
Professor Walt said Mr Trump’s relations with Australia were improving and rated him a C.
“I think you could argue that things have improved slightly because in part the administration is finally starting to recognise that it needs to have some sort of co-ordinated strategy for dealing with the situation in Asia.
“The first year and a half of the Trump presidency, everything they did was contradictory and that included the way they dealt with Australia. But I now think matters are improving and I think that’s because President Trump has had nothing to personally do with it,” he said.
However, Monash University’s Dr Davison said it was still concerning that Australia didn’t have the ambassadorial spot filled in Canberra.
Average grade: B–
Dr Wright said Mr Trump has had a terrible relationship with British Prime Minister Theresa May.
“He’s been completely unhelpful on the Brexit negotiations and he pursued a very tough line on trade in the bilateral negotiations,” he said.
“I think relations with the UK are as bad as what they were during the Suez Crisis and for that I’m rating his relations a D.”
Average grade: D
Mr Trump was heavily criticised for smiling broadly upon seeing Russian President Vladimir Putin at Armistice Day recently in France.
The reaction stood out among the grim faces of nearby leaders, including Mr Macron and Ms Merkel.
After shaking hands, Mr Putin then flashed Mr Trump a thumbs-up. The US leader reciprocated with a warm pat on Mr Putin’s back.
Dr Davison said he scored relations with Russia a B.
“Trump has done more to disrupt NATO and to release pressure upon Putin in Russia,” he said.
But Professor Walt, who scored relations a C–, disagreed saying Mr Trump’s handling of Russia was quite poor.
“Improving our relationship with Russia would be good for the United States, good for Europe and also beneficial to Russia,” he said.
“But his own relationship with Putin and his own entangled dealings with Russia and those of his company and those of some of the people that have worked for him has made it impossible to do anything to try and improve the relationship.”
Average grade: C
Dr Davison said Mr Trump’s relationship with China was “in the toilet” and rated it an E.
“The trade war is an ongoing issue and, of course, what happened at APEC as they failed to agree on a statement,” he said.
Average grade: D
Dr Wright rated Mr Trump’s relationship with Saudi Arabia an F.
“The US played it totally wrong as they gave Mohammed bin Salman a free pass and were totally manipulated by the Saudis early on because I think they needed a better relationship than Obama had but they were very naive about it,” he said.
“I think they’ve been played and the Saudis have been engaged in a lot of risky behaviour, which has jeopardised the overall relationship.”
Average grade: E