The most surprising thing about President Trump’s decision to overrule his top advisers and withdraw U.S. forces from Syria and Afghanistan isn’t that it was improvised and disruptive. Sudden shifts are part of Mr. Trump’s method, and disconcerting senior officials is one of his favorite management tools.
The surprise is that for the first time, Mr. Trump made a foreign-policy decision that divides the coalition that brought him into the White House and risks his control of the GOP. Mr. Trump has frequently challenged and infuriated his political opponents, but his Syria decision risks alienating allies he can ill afford to lose.Mr. Trump’s greatest political asset has been his feel for the priorities of his populist base. The importance of this skill is sometimes underrated, but his ability to unite and energize his voters gave him control of the Republican Party and the White House. If he loses his bond with the base, he will quickly find himself isolated in a Washington that loathes him.
Nowhere has Mr. Trump’s sense of populist America been more important than in foreign policy. As a candidate in 2015-16, he showed that he understood something his establishment rivals in both parties did not: that the post-Cold War consensus no longer commanded the American people’s support.
.. During the Cold War, a large majority of Americans united around the policies that built the international liberal order after World War II. But when the Soviet Union collapsed, a gap opened between those who saw an opportunity to expand America’s world-building activities and those who saw an opportunity for the U.S. to reduce its commitments overseas. The foreign-policy establishment across both parties supported an ambitious global agenda, but increasingly alienated populists preferred to pull back.
The United States will threaten Monday to punish individuals that cooperate with the International Criminal Court in a potential investigation of U.S. wartime actions in Afghanistan, according to people familiar with the decision.
The Trump administration is also expected to announce that it is shutting down a Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington because Palestinians have sought to use the international court to prosecute U.S. ally Israel, those people said.
.. Bolton is a longtime opponent of the court on grounds that it violates national sovereignty.
.. Bolton is expected to outline a new campaign to challenge the court’s legitimacy as it considers cases that could put the United States and close allies in jeopardy for the first time
.. threat of sanctions or travel restrictions for people involved in prosecuting Americans.
.. One person said Bolton plans to use the speech to announce that the Trump administration will force the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington in a dispute over a Palestinian effort to seek prosecution of Israel through the ICC.
.. Bolton’s announcement is closely related to concern at the Pentagon and among intelligence agencies about potential U.S. liability to prosecution at the court over actions in Afghanistan
.. The Trump administration has questioned whether the ICC has jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute U.S. citizens for actions in Afghanistan, because Afghan, U.S. and U.S. military law all could apply in different situations
.. This year, the administration has withdrawn from the United Nations human rights body, halted financial support for a U.N. aid program for Palestinian refugees and threatened to pull out of the World Trade Organization.
.. Three successive U.S. administrations of both political parties have rejected the full jurisdiction of the international court over American citizens, although U.S. cooperation with the court expanded significantly under the Obama administration.
The United States has never signed the 2002 international treaty, called the Rome Treaty, that established the court, which is based in The Hague.
.. it’s going to create the impression the United States is a bully and a hegemon,”
.. efforts to pressure other countries into agreements not to surrender U.S. citizens to the body.
.. prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who last fall asked for permission to formally investigate alleged crimes committed during the Afghan war. That could potentially include actions by U.S. military or intelligence personnel in the detention of terrorism suspects.
.. “America’s long-term security depends on refusing to recognize an iota of legitimacy” of the court, he wrote.
.. The court is also considering a request from Palestinian authorities to probe alleged crimes committed in Palestinian territories, a step that could result in attempts to prosecute Israeli officials.
.. That office serves as a de facto embassy, staffed by an ambassador, to represent Palestinian interests to the U.S. government.
.. The Trump administration contends that the Palestinians violated U.S. law by seeking prosecution of Israel at the ICC. The administration’s initial decision to close the office caused a breach with Abbas that widened in December when Trump announced that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and move its embassy there.
.. The Trump administration has not publicly committed to support a separate sovereign Palestine alongside Israel, which was the goal of previous administrations. But like previous U.S. administrations, the Trump White House considers Palestinian efforts to seek statehood recognition through international organizations to be illegitimate.