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The Future of International Diplomacy Looks Uncertain, Political Science Expert Says

By Noell Saunders

An unconventional administration is raising concerns around the world about the United States' direction in international diplomacy and foreign policy.

The Trump administration recently marked its' first 100 days in office. Proposed changes to NATO; national security; participation in the United Nations; U.S. relations with China, Syria, Russia and North Korea as well as other issues are shaping an unprecedented approach to diplomacy.

Regina Karp, a political science and foreign policy expert at Old Dominion University, said the days ahead could be challenging, but what worries her the most is a potential crisis and the United States' future relationship with its allies.

"It's troublesome. We don't really know how our government will respond. When there's a crisis, is the president going to quickly urge a solution or is he going to be cautious?," she said. "A crisis is not one player; it's a two player game."

Karp said the current number of vacancies at the state department is a larger issue than the American people may realize due to gaps in expertise when a major event occurs.

"You need people who are familiar with issues and regions in order to give good advice. As a result of these vacancies, there's going to be a big burden on Secretary Rex Tillerson, who himself is not a foreign policy professional by training," she said.

In politics, it's about fair game and making sure opponents don't lose face. Karp adds, "You have to give something for that other leader to be able to go home and claim victory. There has to be benefits on both sides."

While it's not clear where relationships between the U.S and other countries will stand in four years, Karp notes that many Americans are losing confidence.

"Foreign policy and diplomacy is very complicated. It's about relationships that you have to nurture, it's about comprise, it's about strategy, it's about give and take, it's about perhaps taking short-term losses for long-term gains," Karp said. "Thus far, "the administration has introduced a lot of uncertainty. It's time to work on sustainable strategies."

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