Donald Trump takes no greater joy as President than in upsetting the international order, undoing multilateral agreements, poking traditional allies, courting traditional foes.
Broadly speaking, this has translated into what feels like Trump’s war on international acronyms. Any entrenched agency or agreement or organization that has been around long enough to have a nickname is likely to feel the acrimony of the President.
Think of it as a short-form way to look at what is essentially a full frontal assault on decades of US-created and led world order.
The slogan Trump has pushed is “America First,” but the strategy seems to be along the lines of whatever existed is bad and whatever can be blown apart is good. Take a look at the proof:
APEC – Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit – Trump traveled to the meeting in November of 2017 and delivered an extremely “America First” speech. “We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore,” Trump said. “I am always going to put America first, the same way I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first.”
COP 21 of the UNFCCC – The Paris Agreement – OK – there’s no real acronym for the Paris agreement to combat climate change. COP 21 is the 2015 summit – the 21st meeting of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. While almost every country in the world signed on before Trump was President, he thought the US was getting a raw deal. “At what point does America get demeaned? At what point do they start laughing at us as a country?” he said in June of 2017, announcing his intention to get out of the deal. “We want fair treatment,” Trump said. “We don’t want other countries and other leaders to laugh at us anymore.”
EU – European Union – Trump cheered when UK voters opted to Brexit and ditch the EU and he’s complained it’s “worse than China” in taking advantage of the US, according to reports. It’s among the nations and groups of nations he’s targeted with tariffs and among the nations and groups of nations to swat back with their own. His realignment of US interests away from Western Europe could be among his most lasting legacies.
FIFA – Fédération Internationale de Football Association – Trump isn’t entirely interested in upsetting international organizations. He promised FIFA that despite his crackdown on immigration and his travel ban, including on majority-Muslim countries, fans and teams would have no problem getting into the US for the 2026 World Cup if FIFA awarded it to North America. And you know what? They did.
G7 – The Group of 7 largest democratic economies – Russia was kicked out for violating another country’s sovereignty in 2014. Trump says it should be allowed back in. “They should let Russia come back in, because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”
JCPOA – Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (aka: the Iran nuclear deal) – Despite a lobby campaign from within the US and from allies like France and Germany, Trump took the US out of the deal and has made clear he expects US allies to abide by sanctions he’ll reimpose on Iran (which surely has something to do with rising oil prices). He said the group deal was poorly negotiated and that he could do a better job, pointing to his efforts in North Korea.
NATO – North Atlantic Treaty Organization – NATO was formed to combat the Soviet Union, which no longer exists. But it has grown to combat terror threats and also provides a counter to Russia’s ambitions. Russia has annexed Crimea, set up shop in Ukraine and taken land from Georgia. It has not taken land from a country that joined NATO and that’s telling. Trump has complained, like his predecessors but much more loudly, that NATO members in Western Europe aren’t spending enough on defense. He’s also taken a friendly approach toward Russian President Vladimir Putin.
NAFTA – The North American Free Trade Agreement – Trump never liked the trade deal that opened North American borders in new ways and changed the US economy starting in the 1990s. He’s vowed to renegotiate the deal, he says to get a better one for the US. Complicating those talks is his simultaneous introduction of new tariffs on Canadian and Mexican goods.
OPEC – Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries – Trump has recently turned his sights on the oil cartel. He’s encouraged independence, and with the growth of shale oil production the US is now second to Russia in world oil output. Neither the US nor Russia is an OPEC member, but Russia is more friendly with the organization, which has long controlled oil prices. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal will have consequences on the oil market as Iran’s oil becomes inaccessible to some US allies. Meanwhile, Trump tweeted at OPEC demanding the cartel increase production to lower prices, which have been rising after steep cuts in production.
TPP – Trans-Pacific Partnership – Among Trump’s first acts as President was to officially reject the massive trade deal with Pacific countries meant to counter China’s growing economic influence. Other countries involved in the deal have carried on without the US and Trump has said he’ll pursue unilateral deals with individual countries, including his efforts with China. None of those have yet borne any fruit.
UNHRC – UN Human Rights Council – The US withdrew from the UN’s council, citing a lack of support for Israel, but the move coincided with the council’s criticism of the US in June for its separation of undocumented immigrants from their children at the border.
UNHCR – UN High Commission on Refugees – The US under President Trump has overseen a dramatic drop in the number of refugees officially resettled in the US. That’s not a direct frustration with the UN, but clearly the US is distancing itself from the UN refugee agency, particularly as it grapples with asylum seekers on the southern border.
WTO – World Trade Organization – Trump has been frustrated by international trade rules the US accepts as a member of the WTO and his administration has written a draft bill, not yet introduced, that would seek to abandon key WTO principles on trade – some of which promote nondiscrimination and fair competition – and give him much more power. He’s hated having to get approval from Congress and instead focused on things like tariffs he can do on his own.
What’s above are only international organizations. You could do an entirely different post with a focus on domestic acronyms – ACA, EPA, FBI … – Trump has tried to disrupt.