Dating back to the administration of Franklin Roosevelt, American presidents are evaluated based on their first 100 days in office.
This milestone is arbitrary and often a poor metric to evaluate success, but the 100-day mark can provide key insight into how a new commander-in-chief approaches the role.
Like many Hoosiers, I had questions about Donald Trump’s views on foreign policy, his temperament and his view of America’s role in the world. During his first 100 days in office, President Trump repeatedly has demonstrated much-needed leadership on the global stage and answered the questions raised by myself and others.
First, he has built a strong foreign policy and national security team. As the old adage goes, “personnel is policy.” The advisors and staff around a president are a key factor in the success of an administration.
By choosing individuals like former Marine General Jim Mattis for Secretary of Defense, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster for National Security Adviser and former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats for Director of National Intelligence, President Trump has surrounded himself with seasoned professionals who understand the threats we face. Even critics of President Trump acknowledge that his foreign policy review process appears to be working.
Second, President Trump has acted decisively on several key national security issues. After Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people, President Trump authorized the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles against the Syrian regime. This strike was an appropriate but measured response to a global humanitarian crisis.
President Trump has fulfilled a campaign promise to escalate the fight against the Islamic State. The president has empowered our military to go after terrorists with greater force and intensity, and the early results are promising.
The Trump Administration continues to take important steps to address urgent threats from North Korea. President Trump personally leaned on China’s leaders to get tougher on North Korea, and the administration is pushing for new and stronger United Nations sanctions to ensure that the situation does not escalate out of control.
Third, President Trump is following through on his commitment to rebuild our military and increase defense spending.
As the security situation around the world has deteriorated, so has the readiness of our own military. In recent testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, senior leaders from each of the four branches of our military testified and outlined the serious manpower and equipment challenges they are facing. We must reverse course and restore the strength of our Armed Forces.
The president recognizes these challenges. During President Trump’s first address to Congress, he stressed the importance of a strong national defense and rebuilding our military. His first budget submission increased military spending, with a commitment to do more in years ahead.
Across the board, President Trump’s approach to foreign policy has been a refreshing change from the Obama Administration. Under President Obama, our enemies no longer feared us and our allies no longer trusted us. The most powerful currency that we have — our credibility with our international counterparts —was sacrificed repeatedly during the Obama presidency in order to preserve President Obama’s misguided nuclear deal with Iran.
Eight years of foreign policy failure cannot be undone in 100 days, but President Trump is off to a strong start.
Congressman Jim Banks represents Indiana’s third district and serves on the House Armed Services Committee.