Trump’s foreign policy

FT columnist Philip Stephens has written an informative, balanced essay on the foreign policy upheavals coming next year in the United States.

Mr Trump’s foreign policy is a work in progress. Measured by the public statements of the president-elect and his closest advisers, it is shot through with contradictions. America-first isolationism jostles with pledges to increase military spending. The recurring themes, though, are economic nationalism and withdrawal from the global responsibilities the US has assumed since 1945. Mr Trump, whose criticisms of Nato are longstanding, seems clear that allies — whether Japan, the Republic of Korea or Nato members such as Germany, Poland, France or Britain — should look after themselves.

The disdain for globalism catches the public mood in the US. After costly wars of choice in Afghanistan and Iraq there is not much of a market in the midwest for overseas adventurism. The Iraq war was intended as a demonstration of American might. As things turned out, it illuminated national weakness. Superior military hardware takes you only so far unless you have political consent.

The charge that Europe has been a free-rider on the US defence budget broadly speaking is a fair one. It has been acknowledged, if then ignored, by many European politicians.

Philip Stephens, “Donald Trump stands to lose from a break with Europe“, Financial Times, 25 November 2016 (metered paywall).

There is much more at the link. Philip Stephens (born 1953) is an associate editor and chief political commentator at the Financial Times.

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