Donald Trump’s Foreign Policy Is a Black Box

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Don­ald Trump’s For­eign Poli­cy Is a Black Box















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WORLD FOREIGN POLICY
Don­ald Trump’s For­eign Poli­cy Is a Black Box
Ian Brem­mer @ianbremmer Nov. 92016

Carl Court
His sup­port­ers want the U.S. to pull back from the world

Don­ald Trump’s for­eign poli­cy? Still up in the air at this point. With Hil­lary Clin­ton, we would have known exactly what we were get­ting. That was her biggest selling point — and a big part of the prob­lem. But Trump is the ulti­mate black box. Much of this was by design — mak­ing Amer­ica great again was always about Amer­ica itself, allies and enemies be damned. That makes for an effect­ive polit­ic­al pitch, but it’s a wholly unreal­ist­ic gov­ern­ing philo­sophy for a per­son whose main respons­ib­il­ity is to nav­ig­ate the coun­try through choppy geo­pol­it­ic­al waters.

And these days, the waters are heav­ing. The for­eign poli­cy chal­lenges Trump will face on Jan. 20 are much more com­plex than those that Obama inher­ited from George W. Bush. Tech­no­lo­gic­al change, par­tic­u­larly in com­mu­nic­a­tions and in the work­place, cre­ates risks and prob­lems that are entirely new. Rus­sia is look­ing to under­mine U.S. power and influ­ence whenev­er and wherever pos­sible, and a Trump pres­id­ency could well embolden Vladi­mir Putin. Trump becomes the face of West­ern cap­it­al­ism at a moment China is offer­ing the world an altern­at­ive eco­nom­ic mod­el. For fans of glob­al­iz­a­tion as it has pro­gressed for the past few dec­ades, that’s cause for con­cern.

Read More: Don­ald Trump’s Brex­it-Plus’ Vic­tory Leaves Some U.K. Law­makers Cold

Let the ques­tions begin. How best to respond to Rus­si­an aggres­sion in cyber­space while min­im­iz­ing the risk of a dan­ger­ous escal­a­tion? How best to bal­ance all-import­ant rela­tions with China? How long before North Korea demands an urgent and force­ful U.S. respon­se? How best to repair dam­aged rela­tions with Bri­tain, European allies, Japan, Israel, and Saudi Ara­bia after a peri­od of ten­sion in which each of them has hedged bets on Amer­ic­an stay­ing power? There are no easy answers. There weren’t going to be any for a former sec­ret­ary of state, and there cer­tainly won’t be any for Don­ald Trump.

We do know that the pivot” to Asia is dead, as is the Trans-Paci­fic Part­ner­ship (TPP) trade deal that went along with it. Asi­an allies had signed on to TPP to bal­ance again­st China’s grow­ing geo­stra­tegic weight. Overnight, China now looks much more stable and sane to its Asi­an neigh­bors than the U.S. does. America’s spe­cial rela­tion­ship with Europe was already under strain; there’s no reas­on to think that will change with Pres­id­ent Trump sit­ting in the Oval Office. Fires in the Middle East will con­tin­ue to rage like they always have, and while Amer­ic­an for­ays in the region have yiel­ded few tan­gible res­ults over the last dec­ade-plus, they at least added some semb­lance of pre­dict­ab­il­ity to the pro­ceed­ings. No longer.

Read More: J.K. Rowl­ing and Oth­er Nov­el­ists React to Don­ald Trump’s Elec­tion Win

But let’s be clear: Amer­ica First” is not an isol­a­tion­ist poli­cy but a uni­lat­er­al one. It does not have Amer­ica retreat from the world, but impose its will firmly upon it. Trump views for­eign poli­cy as a busi­ness­man would — as purely trans­ac­tion­al. That makes it incred­ibly dif­fi­cult for the U.S. to con­tin­ue in its capa­city as the police­man of glob­al secur­ity, the archi­tect of glob­al trade and the cheer­lead­er of glob­al val­ues. That appeals to plenty of people in Amer­ica who feel they’ve been left behind.

Read More: See How Mar­kets Around the World Reacted to a Trump Vic­tory

Don­ald Trump has helped to reveal just how many Amer­ic­ans care more about nation-build­ing at home than in far-flung battle zones. It’s clear that mil­lions of Amer­ic­ans want a more robust eco­nom­ic recov­ery, a surge in job cre­ation, invest­ment in infra­struc­ture and a budget sur­plus — quite a com­bin­a­tion. Amer­ic­ans are divided on how to improve health­care, immig­ra­tion and tax policies, and those divi­sions are reflec­ted in a polar­ized Con­gress. But they’re not nearly so divided on the need to invest in the future of America’s eco­nomy rather than Iraq’s or Syria’s. They aren’t nearly as inter­ested in U.S. for­eign poli­cy. That’s good news for Trump, who will have to fig­ure it out as he goes along. That’s bad news for the rest of the world.
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