Donald Trump and his team made a fuss yesterday about his presidency reaching the 500-day mark, and at yesterday's press briefing a reporter asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders what Trump considers his top foreign-policy achievement.
"I think that there have been a number of major foreign policy achievements," she replied. "Certainly, I think the strengthening of relationships with a number of foreign leaders."
Given the timing, perhaps she should've led with something else.
A call about trade and migration between US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron soured last week after Macron candidly criticized Trump's policies, two sources familiar with the call told CNN."Just bad. It was terrible," one source told CNN. "Macron thought he would be able to speak his mind, based on the relationship. But Trump can't handle being criticized like that."
That CNN report ran a day after Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau's interview with NBC News' Chuck Todd aired on "Meet the Press," in which Trudeau condemned the claim from the Trump White House that new tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum are necessary for American national security interests.
"Our soldiers who had fought and died together on the beaches of World War II ... and the mountains of Afghanistan, and have stood shoulder to shoulder in some of the most difficult places in the world, that are always there for each other, somehow -- this is insulting to them," Trudeau said.
He added, "The idea that the Canadian steel that's in military, military vehicles in the United States, the Canadian aluminum that makes your, your fighter jets is somehow now a threat? The idea that we are somehow a national security threat to the United States is quite frankly insulting and unacceptable."
In recent months, we've heard similar comments from officials in more than a few allied nations. Indeed, Vox noted in May that Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, the branch of the European Union that brings the heads of EU member states together to plan priorities, said, "Looking at latest decisions of [Donald Trump] someone could even think: with friends like that who needs enemies."
That was before Trump announced the imposition of trade tariffs on many of our closest allies.
When Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump is "strengthening" U.S. relationships with foreign leaders -- the first foreign-policy accomplishment that came to her mind -- my fear is she was referring to Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Rodrigo Duterte.
The State Department, meanwhile, apparently eager to echo the White House's political script, declared yesterday, "After 500 days in office, U.S. leadership is back on the world stage as the result of [Trump's] policies."
As it turns out, we talked about this just last month. The State Department may have missed it, but earlier this year, Gallup published a report that found, “One year into Donald Trump’s presidency, the image of U.S. leadership is weaker worldwide than it was under his two predecessors."
What’s more, the Gallup report came on the heels of a separate study, published last year by the Pew Research Center, which also found that Trump’s presidency isn’t just unpopular around the globe, it’s also undermined international support for the United States.
It's almost as if Team Trump is just making stuff up, pretending the world respects and admires his presidency. Reality tells a very different story.