Will Trumpian foreign policy prove permanent?

I see several elements of Trumpian foreign policy, noting this list is far from exhaustive:

1. Little if any emphasis on human rights.

2. There is no particular tendency to prefer to deal with the democracies, if anything the contrary (it is easier to do “funny” opportunistic deals with the autocrats, plus democratic citizens, especially in Western Europe, may not want their leaders to do deals with Trump).

3. Problems can pop up all over the place, there is nothing special about Europe, and Europe is irrelevant to many of the most important geopolitical struggles.

4. Allies, if that word even can be used, pop up on an opportunistic basis and then are rapidly discarded if need be, with no expectations of feelings really being hurt either.  Period-by-period maximization is more common than credibility or investing in relationships.

5. The doctrine of “maximum pressure.”  Trump has been trying this with North Korea, and to a lesser extent with China, although with inconsistencies in both cases.  This consists of dropping a lot of the diplomatic pretense and simply declaring that the U.S. will do everything possible to bring about some outcome, and then making some moves in that direction.

6. Not worrying as much about the kind of diplomatic processes traditionally imposed by the State Department.  #2, #4, and #5 above often are more consistent with a kind of direct transactionalism than with the bureaucratization of foreign policy.

I now believe that, for better or worse, #1-6 are likely to survive in American foreign policy, with or without the reelection of Donald Trump.


This constitutes and assertion without reasoning or evidence:
"I now believe that, for better or worse, #1-6 are likely to survive in American foreign policy, with or without the reelection of Donald Trump."
Perhaps you would do well to grace us with either one of those.

*an (ugh)

The state department has for decades been a more interested in surrendering to other nations than to allowing our country and our policies to be equal to them. It is rife with crony politics and under the table deals. Everyone at the state department retires a millionaire from the deals they forced on us. Trump should have fired the entire department and replaced them with patriots.

The U.S is used and abused by our allies and now that it appears we might stand up too them they are aghast. So be it. If they want to sell into our market than we will have a say in what and how they do that. The graft and duplicity of the old politics is gone.

It is remarkable that there are people who can look at the USA - making war at will, military bases and operations just about everywhere that matters, and ring circling our rivals, its corporate chieftains and banks striding the globe and getting rich even in failing. Banks, defense contractors and oil firms dominating the world. Our products and services sold everywhere around the world, and manufactured wherever we please. Our currency the global currency and the settlement basis of oil trade. Our central bank holding the throttle - and they look at this and still manage to concoct a narrative where we are victims.

Yes, we can make cars in America and China is just forced to buy them...wait, no, they make us make them in China in a joint venture with their own companies.

So one simple example, that no, the world is not at our feet.

It's his blog. He's not making an argument. One can well assume that Cowen has thought these points through. My guess on these points:

1) probably true because nobody seems to care; why should future politicians care now that they can see Americans don't care
2) same as above
3) " "
4) likely true because trust has been broken. broken trust is main reason future fp will almost necessarily be more transactional, whether or not a future president wants it to be. how can anyone trust us when the next administration can and is likely to overturn any agreement, treaty...
5) disagree. maximum pressure is the style of the current guy. would take someone else with this style to continue this strategy.
6) agree because this has been the trend for a long time.

Well, he is making the momentum argument, isn't he?

I prefer the rebound, rejection, scenario myself .. but time will tell.

(If you want to aid the correction, find the most boring and competent public servants you can, and elect them to as high an office as you can.)

I think he under-estimates the Deep State. No matter what Trump does, the State Department and all the other branches of the government, will be run by Internationalists who have little but contempt for their own people and a strong desire to have the good opinion of their peers overseas. So the sell-out of the national interests in all Western countries will continue. Take immigration policy. There is a lobby among manufacturers to import cheaper labor. But almost no one else supports flooding the country with Somalis. But everyone does it anyway because Western States are run by people who hate their own peoples.

Trump won't change that without massive lay offs. And changes to the way civil servants are recruited.

Your Daily Commitment to Poe's law is amazing.

Thank you. I work hard at it. Besides, the rumor going around is that the Supreme Court has just decided that teenage illegals cannot have abortions on the tax payers' dime and cake makers in Colorado do not have to write political slogans they do not agree with.

So it would be hard to bring me down on such a fine day. 7 to 2. Only Ginsberg and Sotomayor holding out.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the DC Circuit's ruling cannot be a precedent. As far as I understood, the court did not decide that teenage illegals cannot have abortions on tax payers' dime. And on the Colorado baker case, the Supreme Court pointed out that the Colorado commission demonstrated hostility towards the baker and was guilty of discrimination themselves.

Nothing more, nothing less. Judicial minimalism at its best.

To a significant extent, presidents can just "do" foreign policy. I'm sure few State Department bureaucrats were supportive of Trump's engagement with North Korea, withdrawal from the Paris accord, or recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. But that is irrelevant when announcing something effectively accomplishes it.

The influence of the State Department was larger when the approach was incremental. And Deep state isn't a new item. There was certainly talk of the State Department working against the express wishes of previous Administrations.

"There was certainly talk of the State Department working against the express wishes of previous Administrations."

For example?

Anything to do with the Middle East and the Palestinians in particular?

Tell me, why, when the Palestinians were blowing airlines out of the sky on a regular basis, were the main source of funds for Palestinian schools and job programs coming from America? Why were American tax payers paying for schools that taught children to hate?

Which President supported that policy?

Interesting. I don't know, please tell me.



Some similar thoughts here, with a nod to Kahnemann and Tversky...

There are a number of errors on that article.

First, Tversky did not win the Nobel Prize. Kahneman did, but Tversky had passed away.

Ms. Schake makes a big unsupported assertion about what works. As an egghead in the ivory, she's free to make any assertion she wants because she has no skin in the game. The Atlantic lives to print anything hostile to the POTUS that comes from the intellectual elite - their readers just love that stuff.

The rest of us, who have to live in the real world, want to see the POTUS succeed where all others have failed. We know what the POTUS does. Let him work his magic in his own unique way and, if he fails, we might fire him in 2020.

Itmt, I would love to see some articles in The Atlantic analyzing Obama's failures in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey, Poland ...

I won't hold my breath.

I would love to see some articles in The Atlantic analyzing Obama's failures in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey, Poland .

Twenty years ago, you might have gotten it. Even 15 years ago, they midwifed the careers of Ross Douthat and Megan McArdle. The magazine press used to have more detachment from partisan controversy.

'Will Trumpian foreign policy prove permanent?'

Number 7 - the president in the rose garden, plucking petals, 'will I meet him or won't I?' Or possibly 'will I impose penalities or won't I?' Or even 'will I pardon them or won't I?'

Number of wars started by Trump: zero. I have no doubt Obama was mouthing empty platitudes on human rights while he was starting the destruction in Libya and Ukraine, let the Junior Varsity ISIS team have a reign of terror in Syria and supported the Ayatollahs over the Green Movement.

'Number of wars started by Trump: zero.'*

*The trade wars, begun not yet they have. The dark side the future clouds.

But seriously, Ukraine as a war is essentially due to a single man, and his name is properly spelled as Влади́мир Влади́мирович Пу́тин

Don't understate Hillary's and Obama's contributions! Credit where credit is due. If Obama hadn't won that election and so had more room to give Putin what he wanted, why, Ukraine might be intact today.

Strangely, though, Putin seems to feel Hillary Clinton would have been more of a problem for him to deal with.

The problem is separating two different things - the Crimea is a Soviet era addition to Ukraine, that had previously been considered part of Матушка Россия.

This contrasts to Russia continuing to nibble at whatever crumbs it can get back from areas it used to rule, a process that has been going for decades at this point.

In other words, pretty much no one ever considered the Crimea to be a real part of Ukraine. A rough equivalent is how the U.S. views the Canal Zone in terms of Panama - and what would happen if in the eyes of the U.S. Panama was about to invite the Chinese in to run the canal - and join a Chinese military alliance. Of course, a difference is that the U.S. created Panama as a nation, while in the case of the Crimea, the Russians conquered it from the Tatars.

But sure, after Obummer, it is wonderful to see how Trump is at the forefront of making Ukraine whole again, including supporting the sending of lethal weaponry to kill more of Putin's minions - 'A US decision to provide Ukraine with lethal weapons will fuel the conflict in the country's east, a senior Russian diplomat says.

US officials said on Friday that President Donald Trump's administration approved a plan to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine, including American-made Javelin anti-tank missiles.

Ukraine has long sought the weapons for its fight against Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 10,000 people since April 2014.

The officials describing the plan were not authorised to discuss it publicly and demanded anonymity.

The State Department, responsible for overseeing foreign military sales, would not confirm that anti-tank missiles or other lethal weapons would be sent.

But in a statement, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US had decided to provide "enhanced defensive capabilities" to help Ukraine build its military long-term, defend its sovereignty and "deter further aggression".' http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-23/ukraine-trump-administration-to-provide-lethal-weapons/9284122

Putin campaigned for disruption - so against Trump as well as for him. While he doesn't seem to have had any problem with Hillary. After all, she was cheap. Gave her some money and she let Putin buy all the uranium assets he wanted.

What Crimea used to be is irrelevant. As you point out, it has been part of Ukraine about as long as Hawaii and Alaska have been states. Longer than most of the UN has been independent. It is Ukrainian. There is no issue here at all. Everyone knows this. Just as everyone accepts that Panama is Panamanian. But it is nice to hear you claim that the US has the right to interfere and annex as much of Cuba as it wants.

But it is true that decades of American weakness has allowed Russia to meddle in the affairs of its former colonies like Armenia and nibble at others like Georgia. So what? A good reason to vote for Trump.

It is good news that Trump is selling Ukraine weapons. Sending the 8nd Airborne would be even better. Ukraine needs to join NATO.

This is crazy talk. Comparing Crimea to Hawaii is very dishonest; you must know this.

The strategic significance of Ukraine is zero.

A good thing I did not compare Hawaii with Crimea then.

Ukraine may or may not be a war that the West wants to be involved in but to deny its strategic importance is foolish. It is a significant share of the former Soviet Union's industry. It is a large coastline on the Black sea. It is thousands of miles of borders with vulnerable states like Poland and Romania.

Russia's spectacular fall out with Ukraine is huge. Or would be if anyone cared. It is a civilizational fault line between the Orthodox and Catholic (plus former Catholic) worlds. And Putin has driven them out of Moscow's orbit and into the West.

For a thousand years Ukraine has been disputed between the West and the East and Putin just gave it to us. If he does not make up with Ukraine soon - or bring the government down and replace it with one more to his liking - Russia will never threaten Europe again. Serbia is cut off. Romania is safe. Greece isolated - although I would be happier if he had them.

And before Crimea was part of Ukraine it was part of Russia. And the people have voted to return to Russia. Borders shift, ask the people in Kosovo, or grab a map or Europe from 1914 or 1940. Our dear leaders in Brussels probably like Ukraine because it is as corrupt as they are, but other than that nobody cares whether the corrupt despot in charge is Western or Russia oriented.

Before Bombay was part of India it was part of the British Empire. So what? The people of Crimea did not vote to return to Russia. Putin held the usual Soviet-style farce. If the people of Crimea had wanted to be part of Russia they would have said so earlier and, you know, voted for a pro-re-unification party.

Borders shift. Sensible people see the Sudentenland and say no. Cheaper now than later.

If the people of Crimea had wanted to be part of Russia they would have said so earlier

ROTFL. You don't know anything about Crimea, do you?

And what is it I do not know? The people of Crimea had elections. They had political parties. Which of them stood on a platform of Reunification with the Motherland?

Putin didn't think Hillary would be more difficult. Russian actions during the election were to sow discord in America. Hillary had been bought by Russia before and they knew she could be again. Putin's dislike of Hillary was that he thought he bought her, but found out she was only rented.

So, if Hillary were elected, do you think she would have meetings with Russia, multiple meetings, where she asked everyone else to leave the room?

No, they already had their bagmen set up from before.

In all seriousness, where could Trump have started a a war that doesn't already have one?

To that end, he seems to be doing his best to rattle cages in Canada, Mexico, Cuba, and China FWIW. There's lots of ground work to be done before these can become shooting wars, so give him some time (joking. sort of).

To his credit, he is at least resisting the efforts up to the point to get us into a war with Russia. (Although I am skeptical that this is due to some conservative isolationist instinct of his).

"In all seriousness, where could Trump have started a a war that doesn't already have one?"

This seems a silly metric. No one thought there would be a war in Libya. Nor did the US have strategic interests there.

Just for the record, I don't consider Libya a mistake on the Obama administrations part. Though the actual results were somewhat mixed.


When trade partners cheat, cages must be rattled.

Like your old friend Mao once said, "if you want to make an omelet, you have to break some eggs".

Right, because the US is a blameless victim in all of this.

So, are you implying that China and the USA are treating each other equally well?

Is the US stealing Chinese IP at the same rate as the Chinese are stealing US IP?

On net, the us economic elite, corporate leaders, and the politicians they own are getting what they want.

You might be using the wrong metric

I agree with that.

“Europe is irrelevant“


American trade with the EU -
Total 2017 Exports 283,517.4 Imports 434,933.1 -151,415.6 https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c0003.html

With China -
Total 2017 Exports 130,369.5 Imports 505,597.1 -375,227.5 https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c5700.html

Seems like Europe is less irrelevant than China, using Census figures, in terms of combined American imports/exports. Though the Chinese certainly win out when it comes to the American trade deficit, with Chinese exports creating a trade balance that is twice as great as that of America's with the EU.

Imagine a president sitting in the rose garden, picking petals - 'Will I help a Chinese telecom company retain its workforce for violating American sanctions against North Korea and Iran, or won't I?'

Old Europe has been irrelevant long before Trump in dealing with most of the important geopolitical struggles. China is busily developing something that Old Europe lacks, namely, a conventional military that can challenge the U.S. in its neighborhood.

'in dealing with most of the important geopolitical struggles'

Trade plays a major role in most of the important geopolitical struggles, which is why trade embargoes/sanctions have been wielded by the U.S. and its allies against countries such as North Korea, Iran, or Syria.

'a conventional military that can challenge the U.S. in its neighborhood'

You mean that the Chinese can challenge the U.S. in Chinese territory and the immediate vicinty? Sure, they have grown increasingly effective in that area - in part because they do not seem to trust America's benevolence, oddly enough.

But if you mean can the Chinese threaten the U.S. militarily in the U.S.'s neighborhood, well, not even close. And that the U.S. need not worry about British and French nuclear forces is a plus, one would assume.

Trade plays a major role in most of the important geopolitical struggles, which is why trade embargoes/sanctions have been wielded by the U.S. and its allies against countries such as North Korea, Iran, or Syria.

No. Trade is important to the US. So American governments think trade is important to other people. It isn't. Especially to Communists.

No sanctions against any Communist government - except perhaps recently China - have ever done much to change their policies. Unlike, for instance, South Africa.

The Soviet Union stands as a prime example of how the effective use of trade in an international arena fails against Communist nations, right?

Military deterrence and capitalism (three cheers for the military-industrial complex) combined with the contradictions of socialism defeated the Soviet Union.

Intriguing that capitalism is considered distinct from trade. Both Smith and Marx would be bewildered by that perspective.

And a number of people believe that the major 'contradiction' that caused the Soviet Union to collapse was the Saudi led collapse in oil prices in the mid-1980s.

"I suggest that President Obama might want to study how Ronald Reagan defeated the Soviet Union.

"He did it without firing a shot, as we know, but he had a super weapon -- oil.

"Oil was the only thing the Soviets had in the 1980s that anyone in the rest of the world wanted to buy, besides ICBMs and H-bombs, and they weren't for sale.

"Since selling oil was the source of the Kremlin's wealth, my father got the Saudis to flood the market with cheap oil.

"Lower oil prices devalued the ruble, causing the USSR to go bankrupt, which led to perestroika and Mikhail Gorbachev and the collapse of the Soviet Empire." https://townhall.com/columnists/michaelreagan/2014/03/06/putin-petroleum-and-pantyhose-n1804878

Almost as if trade (or the 'market' if you prefer), wielded effectively by the U.S., led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Something I would have thought that the many Soviet opponents that comment here were fully aware of.

The price of oil was only one proximate cause. And why were the Soviets more reliant on oil? Gee, perhaps because of the contradictions of socialism? That was the whole point of perestroika, which, of course, failed.

Reagan first and foremost had the political will (sorely lacking among liberals) to stand up to the "evil empire" (liberals were apoplectic) around the world, matched with a large defense build-up (including the much maligned SDI aka "Star Wars") that could be sustained by a more robust economy.

Minor point: neither the Soviet bloc nor the USSR fell while Reagan was president, even though all kinds of people credit him with that outcome. Sorry, not so.

As if we all don't know that it happened shortly thereafter under GHWB, Reagan's VP, but somehow I don't think that you'll give him much credit either.

Yet we're supposed to believe that the Anointed One worked miracles.

Minor point: neither the Soviet bloc nor the USSR fell while Reagan was president,

A trivial point. The Round Table Talks in Poland convened 17 days after Reagan left office. Miklos Nemeth took office as prime minister of Hungary in November 1988. The campaign for the Congress of People's Deputies in the Soviet Union kicked-off on 1 December 1988.

All three of those things you mention, AD, were due to Mikhail Gorbachev, not Ronald Reagan. Sorry.

Because Gorbachev acted in a vacuum and nothing he did had any connection to the previous eight years of Reagan's rule?

Gorbachev was a Believing Communist. He has since reinvented himself as a democrat but he wasn't. Someone pushed him to make the choices he made and the decisions he went with. You cannot - despite your blatant political bias - cut Reagan out of that picture.

He cannot be cut out of the picture. It is just that the usual hagiography of his followers that it was Reagan, Reagan, Reagan, and almost nobody else is just way over the top hogwash.

The over-statement of Reagan's fans should not lead you to over-state an anti-Reagan argument. Reagan was vital to the end of the Soviet Union. And in no small part it was because he stood up in front of the Brandenberg gate, and because he funded UNITA and the contras, and because he was determined to uphold a simple but true faith in freedom.

Had it been left up to the Europeans, the State Department and the Democrats no doubt a slightly kinder gentler Soviet Union would stretch from Vladivostok to the Channel to this day.

There are very rare instances where trade policy does seem to have affected the Soviet Union. America banned the importation of goods produced by slave labor. So the Soviet Union called the Gulag something nicer and continued to use slave labor without telling anyone.

And of course Yeltsin walked into an American supermarket and could not believe that it wasn't fake. Apart from that, no trade played very little role. Partly because America was not willing to use it. The US could have blocked grain exports - but before 1962 the Soviet Union was willing to let millions starve than admit they needed grain. So it is not clear it would have worked.

Being able to buy technology from greedy Americans and Japanese did not hurt the Soviets either did it?


For that young Americans died in Korea and Vietnam?!

Trade is overrated as a policy tool. Hence Old Europe is largely irrelevant.

Chinese imperial expansion around its neighborhood is worrying many of its neighbors, but feckless Old Europe will do little more than demand that international law be respected to no effect whatsoever.

'Trade is overrated as a policy tool.'

The Chinese seem to disagree, actually.

'Chinese imperial expansion around its neighborhood is worrying many of its neighbors'

Yes it is - because through effective use of trade, the Chinese have been able to expand its influence. At least one person I know from Vietnam (grew up in Saigon) is not worried about the Chinese military invading Vietnam, but how the Chinese are starting to buy up Vietnam.

The 'imperialist' expansion is not primarily military, it is primarily commercial.

Strangely, the same complaint was heard from Eastern Europeans who were seeing rich Germans buy up territory that used to be considered part of German imperialist expansion.

I don't particularly care that the Chinese think otherwise. As Marxists they suffer from the delusion that economic trade is more important than it really is (just like you).

Well, the Chinese certainly know which side of the trade deficit they prefer to stay on, but that is undoubtedly due to a misplaced faith in the power of trade.

One could wonder what the British Imperial position on the importance of trade in maintaining an empire would be. Not that it exists anymore, of course.

Mercantilism isn't the best trade policy, or so Adam Smith argued.

What are they buying? It does sound a bit like what was being said here in the states 20 years ago (and what Londers were more recently saying about the Russians). But unless the information I was just looking at is outdated Vietnam still doesn't really have private property and does have significant restrictions on foreign "ownership" (limited time period, as well as limited scope/share).

They were also rather concerned about what's happening to their rights to resources in their EEZ territorial waters that China is certainly not "buying".

If the Vietnamese are really concerned here I don't see how it cannot fundamentally be due to the potential use of it's military might (and apparent desire for empire again -- which should be a problem as much of norther Vietnam was once part of such an empire so might be considered just a return to the rightful owner in China's revisionist eyes.)

"I now believe that, for better or worse, #1-6 are likely to survive in American foreign policy, with or without the reelection of Donald Trump."


#1 and #2 have always been the case... You would have to be delusional to think that Trump started a new trend.

But now America's mask is off.

Indeed, to list 1 and 2 without mentioning the Obama administration's deals with Cuba and Iran is fundamentally omissive.

Or Ameruca's deals with anyone from King Louis XV up to Latin American juntas and death squads, the Shah, Red China, Sunni terrorists and states sponsoring Sunni terrorism. But I am sure Cuba is the problem.

Louis XVI, actually.

While some dealings with autocrats have been suspect, we are living right now the possibility that dealing with North Korea might lead to an opening, a modernization, a moderation.

How the heck is that okay in North Korea and not in the much more benign and open Cuba?

You are missing the point. He's not saying one is okay and the other isn't. He's saying that the issue isn't new. It happened under Obama with Cuba, it's happening under Trump with North Korea.

All I ask is little consistency. I mean given that Cuba is not so bad that it's people are eating grass and twigs, what is the rationale for unfriending them and putting them in further isolation?

Conversely if you are friending North Korea, are you trying to achieve openness, or merely ratifying the status quo?

Perhaps the best line is the old line, that we should be friendly to the people suffering despotic regimes, rather than to the regimes themselves.

#1 One of Trump's first actions was to bomb Syrian sites after they used chemical weapons on civilians.

#2 Why would we need a lot of foreign policy effort towards our 'friends' rather than our 'enemies'?

Trump is making a foreign policy effort towards our friends: an aggressive trade war as well as alienating them by illegally pulling out of the excellent Iran nuclear deal. Things would be mostly fine with our allies if he had simply continues with our existing trade and nuclear agreements in place rather than going after our closest allies while buddying up to dictators from Turkey to Philippines and elsewhere for not very good reasons (oh, maybe doing so with China will get us a nuclear deal with North Korea, sort of like the one we just dumped with Iran, maybe).

the excellent Iran nuclear deal.

A non-binding fraud secured with palettes of cash.

Art Deco,

You are just a worthless liar or else deluded. The IAEA and all other observers agree that the Iranians have been sticking to the agreement. This includes all US intel agencies, with the DOD and the State Department as well, until, of course Trump put Pompeo in charge of the latter and looney John Bolton in the National Security Council. Even the Israelis and Saudis and Emiratis agree they were keeping to it. Their complaints were about matters unrelated to it such as the Iranian missile program and the exaggerated claims about Iran supplying the Houthis in Yemen with weapons.

Get real, AD.

"excellent Iran nuclear deal."

Idiotic. Only difference after the deal was that we were now paying for their terrorism.

Oh, you are another idiot who thinks the "palettes of cash" were our money? We have paid them nothing. You are just a lying fool, TMC.

Whatever the status of the money was, it had been held for decades. Obama was desperate not to end his tenure without a foreign policy win. A terrible deal was better than none to him. I don't know how he expected for everyone to take it as a win, a few useful idiots would I suppose. Either way, his desperation left him with the biggest foreign policy blunder of his administration.

So, TMC, you do not think it was a good thing to have Iran shut down its only plutonium facility, give up most of its enriched uranium, and scale back its level of enrichment to a low level, among other things? That was what was gained, and for the moment still does given that UK, France, Germany, the EU, China, and Russia all continue to support the agreement, in contrast to our absurd and dangerous president. Just what way do you think that this illegal action by our president will improve anything? Think Iranians are going to slow down their missile program? Just how stupid are you?

Iran continued to enrich uranium, enough for nukes, and then continued, in a secret base, to work on long range missiles. With Obama dollars. We have been financing the world's number one terrorist state. The same people who cry 'Death to America'. Merkel, when confronted with the documents from Israel admitted it was a bad deal, but they continue because of the amount of business German companies are doing with Iran.

So, this will be good. What actions exactly were illegal?

What a pile of crap.

No, the enrichment it is doing is not enough for weapons. Just a lie. Where did you get this garbage?

Yeah, we all wish they were not testing their missiles, but that was not part of the agreement, and the idea that the US pulling out of the agreement will make them stop is just stupid, especially given that Saudi Arabia is now the third biggest spender on military in the world and actively calling for the overthrow of their regime. The Saudis are just absurdly hysterical on all this, and incompetetnt in the extreme in their foreign policy: see their botches in Yemen and Qatar. Do keep in mind Iran/Persia has not invaded a neighbor since the 1820s. Really.

And this "world's number one terrorist state" might have almost been true some decades ago, but has been far from true for a long time. Hizbullah was a terror group at one point, and Iranian support for them is the main fear by Israel, but that group stopped being a terrorist group some time ago, bogged down running Lebanon as it is now.

I am unaware of Merkel saying "it was a bad deal." She fully supports it. The Israeli documents only showed something we already knew, that they pursued a nuclear weapons program prior to 2003, but stopped then. The whole point of the deal was to make it very hard for them to start again, and it was working until Trump pulled this insane movel. Now they may start up again.

The deal is officially backed by UN Security Council resolutions. The US is now in violation of this. Trump's breaking the deal violates international law and further makes the US a pariah state, increasingly despised by a majority of the world's population. Check it out. It is true. Trump is just a total disaster for US foreign policy.

Talk about a pile of crap. The JCPOA is a political agreement and UNSCR 2231 itself uses mostly feckless phrases such as "requests," "calls upon," "endorses," etc. (appropriate for that ridiculous body) that are not binding. As a matter of domestic law, which is the only thing that matters, a political agreement has no binding force on the executive. Had Obama wanted to entrench it, he should have done what the Constitution requires, namely, submit it as a proper treaty, but he knew that he couldn't even muster a simple majority for it, let alone the required 2/3rds majority (4 Democratic senators opposed it along with all Republicans).

Right, it is not a treaty, but whining that Obama should have sent it to the Senate is farcical and hypocritical. GOPster in Senate had a policy from the minute Obama became president to oppose anything and everything he was for, no matter what. The most extreme example of this was the ACA, a Republican plan cooked up at the Heritage Foundation that not one of them voted for. As an agreement it was excellent, putting the Iranian nuclear program in a box, something actually and seriously in the national security interests of both Israel and Saudi Arabia, even though both of them opposed the agreement.

So withdrawing from it was not in fact "illegal."

Had Obama not behaved like an imperial president there would have been no JCPOA to withdraw from as only 42 senators supported it (which was a desperate Hail Mary pass). There's no constitutional provision that gives the president the power to do things simply because Congress disagrees, regardless of the reason. So the agreement was dependent on having a series of presidents who would abide by its terms, but Obama seriously miscalculated. Quel dommage.

This includes all US intel agencies,

Gosh, when have I heard this turn of phrase in the last two years?

Oh, and the "palettes of cash" were their own money we had seized. Just how far out of it are you on this matter?

So you are saying American police can seize a Black nurse's life savings without trial or legal recourse, but America is honor-bound to return the Shah's money to the people who drove him from power?

What a wonderful world you live in.

In the meantime the fact that the Iran Deal did not shut down Iran's enrichment, or got rid of its plutonium production facilities, or end Iran's missile program is precisely why it was such a bad deal. Why should Iran be let off the hook for, basically, promising nothing but a slight delay in its nuclear weapons program?

Trump is right to demand proper denuclearization. Or better yet, a new government. The fact that you are now defending the Mullahs is a sign of how deep you have gone in your TDS.

I have no idea what you are talking about in regard to a "black nurse's life savings." This is typical of the rank drivel you opponents of the deal come up with, sheer fantasyland nonsense.

They sharply reduced their enrichment, and they mothballed the plutonium plant. All of this is an imptovement over what they were doing previously. The best way to make the shutdown permanent was to stick with the deal as they were doing, not go it alone against all the other signatories in this ridiculous effort to push it further with no support other than the Israelis, Saudis, and Emiratis. This will be a pathetic failure.

As it is, for its many flaws, Iran is in many ways has a far better government than that of our pal, Saudi Arabiia. They are a partial democracy, they never prevented their women from driving, and, frankly, the Saudis have been bigger supporters of terrorism than have the Iranians. It was not Iran that sent planes to take down buildings in the US, killing thousands, on 9/11/01. The real problem is why are you folks such suckers for the Saudi propaganda on all this?

The US government has given itself to right to seize anyone's cash if they deem it suspicious without any due process at all. Including, most recently, a nurse's life savings as she was going to Nigeria to open a clinic. You are seriously saying that Iran is entitled to the Shah's money when ordinary Americans are not entitled to their own? That seems an amazing double standard.

That cash was not an obligation, it was a gift.

They reduced, not ended their enrichment. Whoopie. They have not ended their plutonium production. This is what is called a bad deal. Why should Trump run with it? Whether or not it is an improvement is irrelevant. The question is does this deal meet the basic minimum standards we can expect for the safety and security of the region? And obviously it does not. Can we expect and get a better deal? Well that depends on Europe. With luck Trump can. It is worth trying.

No one here I can see is carrying water for Saudi Arabia - although Saudi Arabia did not attack America on 9-11. You are fond of calling other people liars but are hardly averse to a bit yourself. So the comparison is irrelevant. Assuming it is not made in bad faith.

I do not support US government taking that woman's cash, but you think that they did so justifies US hanging onto Iranian money when they came to an agreement to massively reduce their nuclear program? Sorry, not a shred of logic to this argument at all.

Trump's foreign policy is hard to pigeon-hole because it is hard to separate policy from politics/rhetoric. This is not exclusive to Trump, of course. I think what sticks out to me is the post-narrative, pretense style of Trump. It's sort of the Emperor has no clothes idea. He almost always speak in realist terms.

"Saudi Arabia has been a great friend and a great purchaser of equipment and a lot of things."

Donald Trump is promoting illiberal hegemony and zero-sum nationalism.

& enabling war crimes in Yemen


"Yemen: Saudi Arabia-led coalition uses banned Brazilian cluster munitions on residential areas...The ASTROS II is a truck-loaded, multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) manufactured by Brazilian company Avibrás."

Brazil?!? How low can Brazil go?

Apparently lower in price (or at least with a fatter procurement bribe) than the U.S., a fellow non-signatory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, offer to sell the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System to a third country that has also not signed the convention.

You're a humorless bore.

Brazil only sells the weapons system. We don't mandate its use on civilians, much less against residential spaces! America's allies do that. It is not our fault our weapons systems are superior. Suffices to say that America forced its Saudi puppets to not buy Brazilian tanks.

Cluster bombs don't kill people! People kill people!

You mean like America exterminating Filipinos, firebombing Germany and Japan or spending more bombs in helpless Laos than in Nazi Germany?!

Cluster bombs kill soldiers, America's allies murder civilians!!

"America's allies murder civilians!!"

Yes, we're aware that Brazil is a long running ally of America and that Brazil has a high murder rate.

I am talking about America and its aliies bombing helpless civilians in Europe and Asia. I can not imagine Brazilians turning Laos into the most heavily bombed countrynin the world.

Indeed you are entirely correct. No one thinks Brazil's military is capable of such a feat.

Not true at all. Brazil could annihilate Laos. Easily, After Paraguay tried to annexation Brazil, Brazil trampled out the vintage where the grapes of wrath grow and eliminated 95% of Paraguay's male population. Pol Pot did not took out even one-third of Cambodia's populace.

... So Brazilians are far more genocidal than Pol Pot.

I can assure it is nit like that. Pol Pot was a mad man. Brazil was fighting for survival against a remorseless enemy. To survive, we had to overcome our relutance to kill.

Brazil lacks the ability and the will to follow your advice and nuke the Yellow Peril.

Brazil was a screwdriver turn away from building nuclear weapons, but in 1990 Brazil officially gave up non-peaceful uses of the atom.

So it will be a few years before Brazil's government is convinced to follow your sage advice, or at least officially acknowledge that it is doing so.

We are giving America every opportunity to act in a responsible way. But in the end of the day, if America can not be trusted, we will have to bolw alone. If it were up to me, we would have procceeded with the nuclear program and we would have annihilated Red China. But it is clear politicians want to try all the wrong soutions before accepting the right one.

I agree that the most distinguishing feature of Trump foreign policy is dropping diplomatic pretense and traditional diplomatic processes, for better or worse. However, the part about not giving preference to democracies and allies really reflects a Eurocentric bias. For example, while *European* allies supported the Iran deal, our democratic Middle Eastern ally Israel and our non-democratic Middle Eastern ally Saudi Arabia were against it. It was actually Europe that was choosing the non-ally Iranian side over the democratic ally Israeli side. Europe also seemed to go against democratic Israel on the issue of moving the embassy to Jerusalem. In both instances, Eurocentrism recast both issues as Trump not going along with European allies, but what he was not going along with was actually the Europeans' non-support of allies. It's ironic that Trump was the one that was actually not ignoring our Jewish and Muslim allies on issues that were happening in their own backyards. Similarly, Trump has made some efforts to support democratic ally Taiwan. Although signing the Taiwan Travel Act and taking a phone call from Taiwan's President were really quite minor moves, the point is that many in the foreign policy establishment wouldn't even had done those minimal things to support a democratic ally.

I would *not* expect the abandoning of diplomatic pretense to survive past Trump. Much of that pretense was developed precisely for the purpose of obscuring truth when foreign policy establishment types advocate policies of questionable morality. The examples above are perfect examples of such obfuscation: recasting support of democratic allies into non-support of other democratic allies' unwillingness to support those democratic allies. I don't see the foreign policy establishment giving up obfuscation anytime soon.

+1. The main new tendency in foreign policy under Trump is 6., and it is unlikely to continue after Trump.

Yeah, who cares about the WTO?

'President Trump appears prepared to unravel 70 years of pain­staking effort that the United States has led to build an inter­national system of trade based on mutually accepted rules and principles.

Ever since an agreement on trade emerged in 1947 from the ashes of World War II, presidents of both parties have pushed this system as a way to strengthen alliances and promote the expansion of democracy and prosperity in Europe and Asia.


Veterans of trade policy worry that tensions will further escalate, putting existing trade agreements in peril and the future of the World Trade Organization, the group that the United States helped establish in 1995 to adjudicate the rules of global trade, in doubt.

“Trump’s actions create a feeling of chaos and lawlessness. America is no longer abiding by basic due process and commitments made to other nations,” said Jennifer Hillman, a former commissioner at the U.S. International Trade Commission.


Under WTO rules, the national security tariff is supposed to be wielded only in times of war or when there is a direct threat to a country. Trump’s team is arguing that any nation should be able to determine on its own when its national security is at risk and impose tariffs when it wants, a major shift that opens the door to any country erecting trade barriers whenever it wants.

“To me, it’s unequivocal that these U.S. tariffs are a violation of America’s WTO obligations,” said Hillman, a Georgetown Law professor. “Under the WTO, the U.S. committed to not discriminating among members of the WTO, so the U.S. can’t charge a 10 percent tariff on Canada but not Argentina.”

Past presidents from both parties worked hard to get other nations to join the WTO and adhere to a system that barred the arbitrary use of tariffs. Now the United States is facing multiple challenges at the WTO for inappropriate conduct.

If the United States loses such cases, Trump might simply ignore the rulings or even pull out of the organization. His administration has already blocked new appointments to the WTO’s appellate body, creating a backlog of trade disputes.' https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/trump-thinks-hes-saving-trade-the-rest-of-the-world-thinks-hes-blowing-it-up/2018/06/02/27afa736-6678-11e8-a768-ed043e33f1dc_story.html?utm_term=.551157266de7

"It's ironic that Trump was the one that was actually not ignoring our Jewish and Muslim allies on issues that were happening in their own backyards."

You mean, the ones who crashed airplanes in New York and Washington? I am sure their advice is valuable. It is funny how America still have no idea about how to deal with the Islamic fundamentalist monster it created the fight the Soviets.

"Similarly, Trump has made some efforts to support democratic ally Taiwan. Although signing the Taiwan Travel Act and taking a phone call from Taiwan's President were really quite minor moves, the point is that many in the foreign policy establishment wouldn't even had done those minimal things to support a democratic ally."
As far as I know no one is preventing the USA from imposing an embargo on China and stopping financing the Army that threatens to swallow your "democratic" ally.

Oh my, BC wants to support the crazed Israeli and Saudi oppo to the Iran deal. Senior Israeli mil-intel people have supported the deal. Bibi has long been notorious for running on anti-Iran hysteria, but what has them really bothered is Hezbullah and Iranian support of it. Iran has not invaded another nation since the 1820s, really, check it out. As for the Saudis, MbS is completely incompetent, pushing his awful war in Yemen, his dumb embargo of Qatar and calling for regime change in Iran, of which the most likely result will be the takeover of hardliners who will resume the nuclear program. Funny thing is after Trump pulled out, a bunch of Saudi commentators came out of the woodwork whining about his lacking a "Plan B," and the one put forward by Pompeo is going nowhere. Somehow these morons did not get it that the result of their efforts would the degradation of their national security by Iran restarting its nuclear program. How stupid can these people be? Oh, I know, as stupid as all the Trump supporters cheering this insanity.

Sad to see a world power behaving that way.

The real truth about America's "democratic" "ally: https://thebulletin.org/did-israel-steal-bomb-grade-uranium-united-states7056

Trump's interaction with the US foreign policy-military establishment, and globalist community is fascinating.

I was dearly hoping for a little bit more forceful action from Trump to withdraw from Afghanistan Iraq Syria etc all. Yes Mali too.

It is thought-provoking to ponder Eisenhower's farewell speech, given when we had a citizen-soldier and demobilized military, in contrast to today's mercenary, hyper-mobilized and globalized military, which has linked arms with an ever-growing globalist community in Washington DC

'Trump's interaction with the US foreign policy-military establishment'

Will, the military is having money shovelled at them, but that is not surprising. 'President Donald Trump's fiscal budget request for 2019 includes $686 billion for defense spending.

While Trump has pushed for a larger military since he was campaigning for president, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said more recently that the "real growth" in the military buildup begins with the now-unveiled fiscal 2019 budget.

With this behemoth amount, the military is setting up contracts that will help the US fight the next war against near peer threats. This includes vehicles, aircraft, ships, and hundreds of thousands of munitions, much of which was used up in the fight against ISIS.' https://www.businessinsider.de/trump-defense-budget-wishlist-massive-military-buildup-2018-2?r=US&IR=T

Your vaunted WTO etc only exists because of American power.

And it is mostly a good thing, despite the trouble getting China well into the world trading system. But that was going to happen eventually, and it has been better to do it through a multi-lateral mechanism like this. As it is, Trump tossing this away is indeed going back 70 years to a dark age of trade wars and beggar-thy-neighbor policies, with morons cheering it.

No, he is going back to mutual trade wars and beggar-thy-neighbor policies. Unlike the previous Administrations who have been happy with 70 years of East Asians having trade wars and beggar-the-West trade policies while America did nothing.

Does China allow America to buy ports and railways? Does it allow America to invest in Chinese companies freely? If not, why should America open up to anyone who closes their markets?

Except, SMFS, most of the nations he is going after are not all those naughty Easr Asians, but our longtime closest allies, Canada, Mexico, UK, and the nations of the European Union. Why is it that Trump supporters are so pleased he is running around praising murderous dictators like Duterte and Erdogan, while spitting on our closest democratic allies. I mean, Canada, really. There is no nation on the planet that has been a closer friend to the US, and what is he doing? Putting a bunch of tariffs on them. More just outright insanity.

Come on. You can't deny that the Canadians had it coming. I mean, Prime Minister Zoolander has been behaving so smugly since Trump was elected. Until some Nigerians discover how to cross from the US into Canada. Then all of a sudden he discovers the advantages of a tough immigration policy.

Let's see what Trump does. He has forced China into further opening. Maybe the Europeans will do something about the CAP. With friends like these Trump does not need enemies.


You better believe that I can deny the "Canadians had it coming." They most certainly did not. That you claim this shows that you are a worthless and disgusting human being.

2 & 3. UK leaders are counting on the special US-UK relationship after Brexit.

3. Ukraine & Crimea are an interesting geopolitical struggle related to the EU.

3. The Arctic is thawing, the development of the Northern sea route is fascinating.

Pax Americana is fundamentally predicated on the US not using its full leverage. It will be interesting to see where Mr. Trump takes us, and whether he learns how to wield America's full leverage.

'whether he learns how to wield America's full leverage'

Well, he will need to learn how to not damage the levers in the first place. Think WTO/unilateral trade tariffs as a concrete example.

The WTO proves DF's point. We waived using our massive economy for leverage and we let China join which was an historical mistake.

The main element of Trumpian foreign policy is to alienate allies and humiliate the Unites States.

Putin loves it.

That nine year old policy has been abandoned lately.

What a lying piece of stupid garbage you are, TMC. Probably you should join Trump's foreign policy team.

You are crazy old goofball. Thank God you're in academia where no one would ever take you seriously.

Trump is married to a European. His ex was European too. His son speaks Czech. I think he cares deeply about Europe.

This is true. Trump ha same some comments that are very much not politically correct among European elites but shows at the same time a deep understanding of the problems that UE is experiencing. The fact that the European elites contemptuously in Brussels dismissed these remarks of there all-powerful ally and protector (and that the main-stream media, such as Le Monde, described the comments as "poisonous" before quickly changing subject), as they did a few years earlier with Krugman's criticism of their monetary policies, just show how narrow the political debate is restrained among the rapidly shrinking pro-EU faction of the european politics.

Trump's comments were aimed, not against EU per se, but against the role of Germany in UE. He criticized many decisions that Germany took alone and imposed to the rest of EU, for instance the welcoming of millions of migrants (in an Europe where internal borders had all but disappeared, that meant inviting millions of persons not only to your home, but also to the homes of your neighbors, without consulting them). Germany doesn't pay its fair share for the common defense of Europe. Germany imposes a monetary policy that suits it but has destroyed the economy of many other European countries. He could also have added, and somewhat he implicitly did, the absurd, dangerous and unilateral decision of Germany to end its nuclear production of electricity, which makes a joke of all German anti-carbon proclamation.

LOL. He maybe cares about one European, although his current marriage looks to be barely holding together. Does not mean he cares about any other Europeans unless they kiss his behind like Macron has. As for knowing anything about Europe, sorry, he barely seems to know anything other than what Sean Hannity told him five minutes ago.

Trumpism in foreign policy has to have success in order to gain momentum to last beyond Trump. And Korea is the place. Unfortunately for Trump, Kim is proposing a denuclearized Korean peninsula: America gives up its weapons in the South in return for . . . . what exactly? John Bolton and company would have a hissy fit. It's not happening. The most successful foreign policy was the one created for Europe after WWII: balance of power. With a balance of power, neither side can risk aggression because the likely response of the other side and the potential for catastrophic consequences to both sides. It's when one side is more powerful, or is considered more powerful, that invites aggression, either by the side believed to be more powerful (because it believes it would easily prevail) or by the side believed to be less powerful (because it feels under constant threat). Today North Korea feels under constant threat, as well it should given the threats from folks like Mr. Bolton, as does Iran, as well it should given the threats from folks like Netanyahu. It's a challenge to maintain peace in a bipolar world, but nearly impossible in a unipolar world. Trump has offered economic development aid for North Korea in return for North Korea's agreement to forego nuclear weapons and other WMD. That is no comfort for Kim; indeed, it may well be viewed by Kim as a Trojan horse, with the aid operating as a subterfuge for the instigation of social dissent in the country. Unipolarity may appeal in the abstract, but it contains the seeds of its own destruction (i.e., instability). In a unipolarity world, inaction ironically becomes the most likely, and best, scenario. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/06/inside-the-white-house-during-the-syrian-red-line-crisis/561887/

There are a few interesting things happening.

North Korea demanded a response. There are lots of strange games; China likes having a mad attack dog that can humiliate the US. The middle east nuclearization runs through Pyongyang. Japan, who for 70 years has had no military to speak of because of formal and informal understandings with the US was going to militarize in the face of North Korean hostility.

Europe is strange; there are three, maybe four europes. You have the close to failed states in the south, you have Britain. Then there is eastern Europe, then the core of Brussels, Germany and France. I suspect the Trump has very good relations with eastern Europe. The south and core are being convulsed by the Syrian and Libyan hellholes, both profoundly made worse by the previous administration. The only thing that the core Europe thinks is right is to dig a deep hole and have the Americans dig them out. That is coming, but not there yet.

The middle east is in far better shape than two years ago. Turkey is what France and Belgium will look like in a generation.

As for Canada, our betters are determined to see how close to Venezuela we can get and still have toilet paper. I wouldn't bet on even that. There was some common ground with Obama; a race to see who could restructure the nation's bathrooms. With Trump, the hatred is visceral and open. I suspect that what we are seeing is Ottawa listening and responding not to the administration but to the various contacts and connections within Washington who have been telling them not to worry, he will be gone by ????. Bad idea. I predict that the Canadian auto industry, who has a special arrangement with the US dating back from Canada helping the US in the Suez and later Iran, will simply disappear. The idiots in Ottawa are still reading the NYT and Washpo for a sense of what is going on and are going to be blindsided.

How quickly we forget the two or three foreign policy catastrophes that happened every week during the last years of Obama.

Good post.

"Turkey is what France and Belgium will look like in a generation."

I've resisted this thought, but it seems you may be right. The things that come out of Europe these days were unthinkable a few decades ago.

Tyler is right given the completely lunatic comments going on here. Your comments about Canada simply belong in an asylum, Derek.

As for foreign policy disasters a couple of times a week in the late Obama presidency? Really? Oh, putting Iran's nuclear program was a disaster? ISIS has been nearly beaten, but the policy to do that was put in place by Obama. Meanwhile we have a heightening of a disaster in Yemen aided by Trump, we have the GCC falling apart among itself, encouraged initially by Trump. We have a complete shutdown of any Israeli-Palestinian peace effort. Syria is maybe better, but that only marginally has to do with Trump. And now we may have Iran restarting its nuclear program, thanks to Trump.

You people are pathetic in your delusions.

Tyler is right given the completely lunatic comments

Well, you know, Barkley, we often don't see ourselves as others do.

LOL. Polishing up those jackboots in your closet are you, AD, for when Trump more seriously imitates all his lovely friends around the world?

Wars: always imminent under Trump, but starting under Obama.

Um. That seems super ahistorical. Bush started the biggest wars of this generation. Obama tried to wind down and walk away from them, and conservatives faulted him for that!

Maybe you know that. Everyone here knows that. This is just a page of trolls.

Syria and Libya were both started under Obama. The Obama administration seriously ramped up the bombing of Yemen in 2009. Furthermore, military strikes continued in Somalia, as well as, Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Obama tried to wind down and walk away from them,"

Are you going with incompetence as the explanation then?

Number 2 was always the case...well at least if those dictatorships were aligned with us. If not, then we moralize and bloviate against them.


What US actions would you point to that suggest that the US was less inclined to deal with non-democratic regimes under previous presidents than under Trump? What US actions would you point to that suggest the US was more sensitive to human rights under previous presidents than under Trump?

It seems to me that our foreign policy continues much as it has in the past, w.r.t. nondemocratic regimes with horrible human rights records. How long have we been close allies with the Saudis, again?

The fact is the old guard Foggy Bottom approach was remarkably conservative and risk averse, and basically accomplished nothing of importance after the end of the Cold War. The repsonse to 9/11, more military than diplomatic, but really both, was a disaster. It is time for a reboot. Europe is more than capable of defending itself. It is not our job to manage the internal affairs of other soverign countries. The small unstable countries are a bigger threat than larger countries. We should do what is in our interest. We can't police the entire world. These are sound pillars of a reboot.

So what is the evidence in US actions under Trump that we are pursuing such a reboot. We're running troops in Africa, Syria, and Afghanistan and supporting Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen along with our own drones there. In terms of actions, I don't see how Trump's foreign policy is much different than Obama's, except that he hasn't started any new wars (or "kinetic humanitarian interventions") yet.

I think it would be disingenuous to say that we haven't seen changes in some measure along these lines......this is not to say that everything has changed or everything has been ideal.

Since around Reagan, US foreign policy has struck me as 1) blindly ideological, and 2) strangely backward-looking, like it's still 1948.

To my observation, Trump is making US foreign policy more pragmatic, a long overdue development.

No longer 1948: China is an integral part of the global economy, the Soviet Union no longer exists and is not about to pour through the Fulda Gap, and Britain and Europe are just along for the ride.

Trump seems more attuned to these changes than the cloistered Beltway experts.

Actually, Trump is going back to pre-1947 with his trade war. As for his wannabe wars with out immediate neighbors, well, that is going back to the early 1800s. What is the matter with you morons?

Sounds like a recipe for war.

The next wars will be intra-national, not international.

I would regard this as salutary. Going forward, job one is going to be to keep things cool with China and to try to find a niche as China displaces the United States as the world's premier power. Most of the European countries as polities are sufficiently dysfunctional and silly that their not likely to be much help. The dysfunction is found among the elites and countenanced by the populace. Hungary and Poland are perhaps the exceptions.

"Going forward, job one is going to be to keep things cool with China and to try to find a niche as China displaces the United States as the world's premier power."

So that is it. "Peace for our time", again! Americans will sold their friends out to save their skins.

States don't have friends; they have interests.

What about the people who man state positions, inhabit the area controlled by the sate and elect state leders? Do they have friends? Do they have at least a conscience?!

Not when they're acting as agents of sovereigns, no. International "law" is anarchic, not civic.

So that is it. American leaders have no conscience. American public servants have no consicence. American voters have no conscience. They all will betray their friends to save themselves and their ill-gotten money.

I am old enough to remember when things were very, very different.

"We cannot buy our security, our freedom from the threat of the bomb by committing an immorality so great as saying to a billion human beings now enslaved behind the Iron Curtain, 'Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skins, we're willing to make a deal with your slave masters.' Alexander Hamilton said, 'A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one'." - Ronald Reagan

But that was then, this is now...

Hungary and Poland are the good Europeans, Art Deco? Right, racist nationalist authoritarians are the way forward. Will you stand up and cheer if Trump declares martial law and begins mass arrests and the establishment of concentration camps?

"China displaces the United States as the world's premier power"

Unlikely. No evidence that this is happening.

China has too many people and has already peaked economically with hundreds of millions still in poverty. It is surrounded by current or potential enemies and has a bad geographic position, capable of being pinched off by blockade. No autocratic government has been the preeminent power since Spain since they are ultimately unstable.

Pretenders to "displacement" have come and gone and are nothing but bleached bones on the beach of history. China will be no exception.

"Pretenders to 'displacement' have come and gone and are nothing but bleached bones on the beach of history. China will be no exception."

I say a barrage of nuclear bombs would make it come to pass sooner.

Unlikely. No evidence that this is happening.

Chinese output already exceeds that of the United States.

Art Deco makes a good point.

When measured by PPP, China's economy is bigger than either the US or the EU.

And when using World Bank data, you also get this picture of China from a 2016 article - 'The average annual per capita disposal income by household in China in 2014 was about 20,071 yuan – about $3,000, or $8.22 a day. On the face of it that seems a somewhat promising figure. It wouldn’t make any of these households rich, or even lower-middle class by American standards, but it would be quite a leap forward from where they started. The average figure, however, is skewed by the huge disparity between urban and rural incomes. Urban households’ per capita income was 29,831 yuan – almost $4,500 a year. Rural households have a per capita income of only 9,892 yuan – about $4 dollars a day.' https://geopoliticalfutures.com/china-is-still-really-poor/

China is really big in terms of population, and really poor, with a very poor population that easily rivals the entire population of the U.S. And what is very poor? 'The problem is that the other half – almost 380 million people – are employed in rural areas. The urban households aren’t exactly raking it in, but the rural households have not progressed far enough beyond the World Bank’s arbitrary $3.10 to say they have escaped much of anything, and certainly not poverty.'

" No autocratic government has been the preeminent power since Spain since they are ultimately unstable."

That is the lynchpin of the argument. Either an autocratic government can successfully run a modern, high tech government or not.

If they can, then our beliefs that Western style Democracies are inevitable is flawed. China will have demonstrated a second way to achieve modern affluence.

Bob from Ohio has a good point. Answering that China's is richer than the US in PPP term doubly misses the point, first because PPP GDP is not the right measure for international power comparison (it measures how many bowls of rice Chinese people can buy in China, and it may be a greater total number that the number of bowls American can buy in the US but this has nothing to do with international power) and second because even if (or when) China's GDP get bigger than the American GDP,
Chine will not ipso facto become the first power, which is about much more than money.

I hope that Bob is right, but I'm not sure History completely supports this hope. For instance, Russia was the dominant power in Europe from 1815 on (up to 1052 at least, or 1868 when Prussia unified Germany) and it was backward, authoritarian, and much poorer than France, the UK, etc., but also so much more populated. A little bit like China now.

This is a rather short-sighted and simplistic (and probably mood affiliated) definition of "foreign policy."

It's really too soon to say what Trump's foreign policy actually is. So far it's been mostly like watching one of the three stooges get ready for a golf swing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcMPFZ3eORk

Trump is assessing our relationships with the world. While returning our focus and alignment to traditional Western styled democratic allies, he is putting them to the test in proving that they are not fair weather friends or moochers (or taking the U.S. for granted.) All policies and pacts involving trade relations are up in the air as they are reevaluated on the basis of reciprocity. Kooky pacts and policies regarding AGW, based on faulty modelling and politicized science, will not be tolerated.
Trump has clearly initiated a new management style that hopes to obtain the best deal for the United States and upgrade the nation's ability to weather the increased volatilty and dangers posed by hostile players such as Russia, China. and Iran who pursued threatening imperialist policies.
Trump's team is providing a valuable assessment of past policies as he prepares the U.S. in continuing as the leading political and economic nation through the 21st Century.
Given the malaise and increased misery metrics inherited from the last two administrations, my hope is that the Trump team succeeds.

hmm, methodical reassessment and renegotiation, madman theory, or fifty-two-pickup?

The main feature of Trump foreign policy is the willingness to ignore "elite" and "expert" opinion and act.

A US embassy in Jerusalem has been official policy for 20 years but always put off because of the risk of "inflaming the Arab street". Trump acted and nothing bad happened.

All the 2017 GOP contenders opposed the Iran deal. Can you imaging any actually pulling the trigger?

This is unlikely to be continued by the "normal" president to follow, sorry to say.

And act incredibly stupidly. Yaaaay!

Experts were right. Moving the embassy did inflame Arab opinion. Even the bloody Saudis are ticked and want nothing to do with it. As it is, a lot of dead Palestinians now, and certainly no move to peace. Trump just lying on that one.

All the GOP contenders opposed the iran deal, but pretty much any of the others would have followed the advice of Mattis and Tillerson or their equivalents and kept it going. Now we have no Plan B and a serious chance that Iran will restart its nuclear program. This is a good outcome? Just how stupid are you?

Moving the embassy did inflame Arab opinion.

Another round of obnoxious behavior by Hamas, about which no one who is a serious person cares.

So, AD, just name exactly one good thing to come out of this embassy move, and I am not counting Sheldon Adelson shoveling more money into Trump's campaign coffers as a good thing. We have had presidents who have moved forward peace in the Middle East, including Ford, Carter, Bush Sr., and Clinton, with others making efforts, even if they did not work out so well. Trump is moving things in the wrong direction, aside arguably from the gradual wind down in Syria, which largely involves continuing for once rather than undoing the policies of his predecessor. Trump sure as hell is just making things worse on the Israeli-Palestinian front, and that is what most serious people think.

So, AD, just name exactly one good thing to come out of this embassy move

In exchange for no real down side, Trump further locks down the evangelical vote. Captures more of the Jewish punditry and voters, thereby tossing another hand grenade in the Democrats' KKKrazy Koalition.

He may have solidified evangelical support (that is a good thing why?), but in fact he does not gain much among Jewish punditry or voters. Are you unaware that the majority of US Jewish voters see Netanyahu for the scumbag that he is?

And as for KKK, it is the racist GOP under Trump that is coming on like the old KKK. After all, at its height in the 1920s, it was the KKK that led the anti-immigrant push that resulted in the restrictive 1924 law. Trump is old style KKK all the way.

Jewish voters see Netanyahu for the scumbag that he is?

What, is Tony Rezko in his circle of friends?

We have had presidents who have moved forward peace in the Middle East, including Ford, Carter, Bush Sr., and Clinton,

Barkley, here in meatspace there were no accomplishments of note under Mr. Ford's aegis and there was nothing attributable to the wheel-spinning 'peace process' that could be called an accomplishment under Mr. Bush's. Mr. Carter and Mr. Clinton brokered a settlement between Israel and one Arab state each. Mr. Clinton presided over the Oslo disaster, which was certainly clarifying, but not an accomplishment.

It doesn't matter whether American diplomatic properties are in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. The disposition of public and political class on the West Bank and Gaza will be as implacable as ever. Ceasing to treat them deferentially and cutting off their dole stream just might induce them to reconsider. Then again it might not. In any case, treating them with disrespect is a good thing.

Oslo was a worthy outcome, basically weakened by failures to follow through fully. Bush, Sr. started the negotiations that Clinton completed. Ford's accomplishments more ephemeral, but helped stabilize tense relations between Syria and Israel into a stalemate, with this started under Nixon, Kissinger the key player, granted ephemeral, but a lot more than Trump is doing, which is completely putting the whole process into the toilet.

Oslo was a worthy outcome, basically weakened by failures to follow through fully.

No, Barkley. The process ended in catastrophe because the PLO wasn't bargaining in good faith, just looking for interim advantages in order to eventually resume launching attacks. This isn't debatable.

Actually what did it in was the assassination of Rabin by an Israeli extremist. Neither side ultimately fully followed through after that. Your claim is highly debatable.

No, what did it in was the 2d intifada five years later. You don't know what you're talking about. Shut up.

It went in stages. that one being part of it. And I am quite certain I know far more about these matters than you do, AD, although I shall grant that compared to most of the rest of the folks I have been debating with here, you actually do know quite a bit, if not nearly as much as I do. Too bad you admire neo-fascists in Poland and Hungary and elsewhere.

And, btw, for all of its failures, Oslo is still the basis for much of how Israel and at least the West Bank Palestinians deal with each other, which at least retains some semblance of peacefulness, despite lots of incidents. But then, I do not think either of us has "the answer" to this difficult problem, although I suspect even you could do better than Trump is, who is clearly making it a lot worse.

Oslo is the basis of nothing. How Israel deals with the Arab publics and Arab bosses is a consequence of a series of tiles in a mosaic, each decision made to optimize the quantum of security given circumscribed resources. Of the salient features - withdrawal from Gaza, security fences, strict controls on the movements of Arabs without citizenship or residency permits, punitive expeditions contra Hamas and Hezbollah, and the division of zones in the West Bank - only the last is derived from the Oslo process. Israel prospers when it ignores cookie-pushers and does what's right and what works.

So, AD, just name exactly one good thing to come out of this embassy move,

1. The Arabs are informed that we do not violate customary practices in deference to their sh!t tests.

2. An adipose, hydrogen sulfide emitting orifice resident in Harrisonburg Va is emotionally upset by it, providing entertainment for all decent people.

You are really losing it here, AD, nothing to stand on at all and nothing worth saying either. Go back to polishing your jackboots.

I must commend all the commenters who have had to suffer through the ad hominem attacks from this Barkley Rosser dude. Full TDS on display in each posting with accusations of racism, Nazism, stupidity, etc. Really despises anyone who disagrees with him (would he call Dershowitz stupid?), a case book study of why Hillary lost. As you say, his derangement and lack of self-awareness is highly entertaining.

Aw, poor things. I only despise people who lie and make rankly stupid remarks, especially when those indeed display racism or a love of authoritarianism, and there has been plenty of both on this thread. As for Dershowitz, no, I would not call him stupid, but then he has not been on this thread making stupid defenses of Trump's withdrawal from the Iran deal.

Yeah, I have been tough on a bunch of you. But I have yet to see a one of you actually successfully counter any of my arguments. As it is, I do despise Trump. by far the worst president in US history, but if he actually does something worthwhile, I shall support it. This might happen in Korea, and if he does succeed in getting a good agreement there, I shall support it, unlike the sufferers from Obama Derangement Syndrome, who could not, and clearly from the wacko babbling here, still cannot, admit that his iran deal was an outstanding and successful piece of diplomacy fully in the national interest of the US.

So, you can take you talk of TDS and shove it up your ass, OMG, especially every single one of you defending Trump's insane ODS withdrawal from the Iran deal. Deal with it, scumbags.

Thanks for the entertainment. Come back soon.

You're a legend in your own mind, Barkley, as well as a collecting pool of distasteful personality problems.

I shall admit to being crankier than usual yesterday, although the comments here by a bunch of you fully deserved all the venom and contempt I heaped on them and all of you. As it was, my house had a frozen air conditioner (really), 9 and a half inches of water in the basement, and our hot water out. But I retract nothing.

Trump aside, should we expect foreign policy in a multi-polar world to have the character TC is describing, or to preserve (somehow) the norms that belonged to the time of American hegemony?

"or to preserve (somehow) the norms that belonged to the time of American hegemony?"

+1, American hegemony is gone. Furthermore, America can't afford, in either political or economic costs, to be the world's policeman. Bush made a fundamental error in attempting to solve the Iraq problem. The Middle East sits between Asia and Europe and Africa. It's not something America should try and fix.

Even as Middle Easterners fly Aerican airplanes into civilian buildings? America created the terrorist problem and niw wants to bail out?!?

The ratio of military spending to gdp under George W. Bush never exceeded the Cold War nadir recorded in 1977-79, much less the levels of the 1950s.

Agreed, military spending (and the size of the military forces) would need to go up drastically to get back to Cold War levels.

Tyler writes: "I now believe that, for better or worse, #1-6 are likely to survive in American foreign policy, with or without the reelection of Donald Trump."

Then America is in decline as a global power, and its decline will accelerate with the abandonment of allies. No country will trust the US again, and therefore the US will not be able to broker meaningful, long-term deals. Among many countries, that will create incentives for nuclearization and arms races, or for seeking a partnership with a rival great power, especially China.

Moreover, the US won't be able to count on political, moral, military, or other forms of strategic support from the EU, Japan, Canada, and Australia. That means it will have to do more heavy lifting on its own. In military affairs, that won't be noticed much at first. But if allies don't share intelligence with the US as readily as they do now, that will certainly harm American interests and capabilities.

This is all bad news.

The EU is not a serious entity, nor is Canada. They are just along for the ride.

China can keep sending tiny fractions of its population to Australia to neuter it as a Commonwealth state; this is an inevitability.

We can count on deep-rooted, mutual ethnic antipathy to keep Japan at arms-length from China, but the Chinese will dominate that side of the Pacific is inevitable. We are not going to destroy half the globe over China.

"Not a serious entity"--in what way? In terms of hard military power, yes. But in maintaining international organizations, international rules, and intelligence networks that benefit the US, they are indeed serious and important.

The US can accomplish much with hard military power. But not everything. Not even close. And in the long run, it's cheaper and more effective to use military solutions infrequently, and with great prudence.

The EU is regrettably too serious. Seriously destructive.

Via Lawyers, Guns, and Money, this about sums up Trumpian foreign policy:

"As I’ve pointed out before, the President can be successfully engaged, and countries like Ukraine, China, and Qatar have demonstrated this. When they want something from the United States, they skip the State Department, and even the White House staff. Instead of approaching their problem state-to-state, they go state-to-man. These countries focus on what Trump wants on a personal level – to enrich his family. So Beijing granted Ivanka trademarks, Qatar invested in one of Jared’s office towers, and Ukraine, with Slavic candor, simply wired half a million dollars to the President’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

For the most part, the western allies understand that if we want the U.S. to do something we must negotiate with the man himself. What we have not grasped yet is, as strange as it sounds, the President of the United States is more concerned about promoting his interests than defending America’s."

Still better than Hillary.

No regrets!

It pains me tomread how America has become corrupted.

But not nearly as corrupt as Brazil, which sets the international bar for political corruption. I have to go wash my car.

It is not true at all! Corruption is rare in Brazil. There is nothing uniquely corrupt in Brazil. Brazilian companies bribed people in all continents, not just in Brazil.
Corruption is harshly punished in my country. A former president is behimnd bars. Several former Congressmen, former governors and many business big shots are behind bars. Meanwhile, Trump's promises of "locking her up" were a cynical ruse.

I can wash my own car.

The only car you can afford and fit in your little shack in your favela is a toy Troller T4:


It is not true at ll! I do not live in a shck. I certainly do not live in a favela. I live in a university neighborhood.

And the actual Troler T4 is a very powerful car. It can go from 0 to 100 km/h in 12 seconds.

I think the various violations of diplomacy such as closing and trespassing on Russian embassies is far worse. It pre-dates Trump, but as far as I know, he hasn't done anything to stop it.

Wow. Closing and "trespassing" on Russian embassies is worse than the Russian military shooting down a civilian airliner in eastern Ukraine and blaiming it on others? Really?

I think Trump is making a new version of the same mistake made in the W administration, which is to underestimate the degree to which attempting to use power actually dissipates it. The conservatives of Trump's generation have this vague sense that the U.S. is a hyperpower that could make what it wants happen if only "those weaklings" would man up and push the world around. The Iraq invasion was a version of the argument, and the Iran deal fell to another version of it. But what you always end up revealing is all of the downsides of such activity. Saddam is dead, but I know of no one who would argue that the U.S. strategically better off in the region, and we are demonstrably poorer in terms of lost treasure and dead Americans. And when people start viewing U.S. behavior in terms of actual costs and benefits, we end up looking weaker than when folks were just imagining outcomes in terms solely of our outsize power, without much thought to the downsides, because that isn't how humans tend to think.

Using power doesn't dissipate it.

Note that Tyler wrote point 1 the day after the Trump administration called upon China to make a full public accounting of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

#1 - you can find in Trump's speeches something which amounts to support for human rights, if by that you don't necessarily mean support for every NGO and declaration that demands something under the name of a human right. If I was to try and find a "Trump Doctrine" in what has been said so far, I would pick from https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-72nd-session-united-nations-general-assembly/ the following:

"But we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties: to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation."

Respecting the interests of their own people - at least to me - means not oppressing them. IMHO this is an "American First" viewpoint that believes that every nation should put its own citizens first, without coming to a Hobbesian brawl of all vs all.

More cynically, I think that even if Trump completely discarded all support for human rights, in both theory and practice, the next administration would find it valuable to resume at least a policy of support for it, as a way of achieving moral superiority over Russia and China, and of trying to stop them from gaining real or perceived advantages by doing things that democracies are not free to do, such as penalizing dissidents.

Let's flip this thought experiment. China has proven the western model of human rights is not necessary for economic development. Every regime in the world now knows there is a viable and in many ways preferable alternative to the western model. Foreign policy must change to reflect this. What should it become?

Erm... those policies have already been put in practice by previous presidents.

The difference? Well, previous differents implemented them some measure of skill.

Trump tries to do all that but is completely inept. That's the difference and that is why all this stuff seems new. It's not.

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