Trump's First 100 Days Left U.S. Allies 'Off-Balance,' Rice Says

  • Obama’s national security adviser talks about Trump on CNN
  • U.S. shouldn’t be ‘crazy aunt in the attic’ on foreign affairs

President Donald Trump’s foreign policy has shaken long-time U.S. allies and left them off-balance, according to his predecessor’s top national security aide.

The U.S. “is supposed to be the grown-up at the dinner table,” former National Security Advisor Susan Rice said in an interview set to air Sunday on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.” “We’re not supposed to be the crazy aunt in the attic that nobody knows what is going to do next.”

Susan Rice

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Rice chided Trump for, among other things, calling on South Korea -- a key U.S. ally -- to pay for a missile defense system the U.S. is setting up in the country.

“The deal was they provide the land and the installation, and we would provide the system in its operation,” she said. Trump also said this week he wants to renegotiate or cancel a trade agreement with Seoul.

North Korea on Saturday test-fired a ballistic missile for the sixth time this year, drawing a scolding from Trump on Twitter. U.S. allies in Asia from Seoul to Tokyo have grown increasingly concerned about tensions with Pyongyang and the nuclear weapons ambitions of Leader Kim Jong Un. They want steadiness from the U.S., Rice said.

“I’m concerned, frankly, that we’re hearing very mixed messages,” Rice said. “We need to reassure and secure our allies, particularly South Korea and Japan, who feel most directly threatened by North Korea.”

War of Words

Rice’s blunt assessment of Trump’s international agenda is latest in a war of words between the Obama White House’s top foreign policy adviser and the current administration.

Trump this month, without citing evidence, said Rice may have committed a crime by trying to learn the identities of Americans associated with the president caught up in intercepted communications related to Russia. She has denied any wrongdoing.

Trump will hold a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Saturday night to mark his first 100 days in office, a milestone observers often use to assess an administration’s early achievements.

After campaigning against the type of overseas interventions that have characterized American foreign policy for decades, the president has become increasingly embroiled in global affairs. That includes a U.S. missile strike against Syria, bombing Islamic State positions in Afghanistan, and the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

Meanwhile, Trump has shifted positions on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, China’s currency policy, and a free-trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.

“It’s early days, but I would say that in many respects it’s been unsteady and rocky,” Rice said of Trump’s foreign policy. “A number of our closest friends and allies are feeling uncertain, off-balance, unclear as to where we stand and what we mean. ”

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