As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump broke not only from the Republican Party but also from the bipartisan consensus on the direction of recent U.S. foreign policy. Calling the Iraq war a terrible mistake and lamenting America’s nation building expeditions, Trump evinced little interest in maintaining the traditional form of American leadership of the liberal international order. He threatened to pull the United States out of NATO, complained that the United States was being taken advantage of by its trading partners, and argued that immigration was a terrible threat. Instead, Trump’s “America First” vision called for a reassertion of American nationalism on the economic front as well as in foreign affairs. Since Trump took office, it has become clear that “America First” was more campaign slogan than coherent vision of American grand strategy and foreign policy. As president Trump has steered a course that has maintained some of the worst aspects of previous foreign policy – namely the pursuit of primacy and frequent military intervention – while managing to make a new set of mistakes all his own. This book provides an assessment of Trump’s America First doctrine, its performance to date, and its implications for the future.
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About the Author
John Glaser is director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. His research interests include grand strategy, basing posture, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, the rise of China, and the role of status and prestige motivations in international politics. Glaser has been a guest on a variety of television and radio programs and has had his work published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, CNN, and Time, among other outlets.Christopher A. Preble is the vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. He is the author of The Power Problem: How American Military Dominance Makes Us Less Safe, Less Prosperous, and Less Free (Cornell University Press, 2009) and Peace, War, and Liberty: Understanding U.S. Foreign Policy.Trevor Thrall is a senior fellow for the Cato’s Institute’s Defense and Foreign Policy Department, with expertise in international security and the politics of American national security. Thrall is also an associate professor at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government where he teaches courses in international security. He is the coeditor of U.S. Grand Strategy in the 21st Century: The Case for Restraint (Routledge 2018) and co-host of the Power Problems podcast, a biweekly podcast which explores key questions in international security with guests from across the political spectrum.
Table of Contents
Provisional Table of Contents • U.S. Grand Strategy since the Cold War and 9/11 • Confusion after Containment • 9/11 and the Hijacking of U.S. Foreign Policy • The New Liberal Hegemony Consensus • The Failures and Foolishness of Primacy
• America First & the Trump Doctrine • What was America First at First? • Why did America First gain traction in 2016? • What is the Trump Doctrine now? • America First in historical context
• Taking Stock of the Trump Doctrine • How AF has Trump’s first term actually been and why? • What has remained same/what has really changed under Trump? • How well has AF/Trump’s FP served the United States? • Not sure how best to organize this – thematically or by specific issue? • War on terror, Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, NATO/alliances, Syria, immigration, trade, diplomacy, nuclear weapons, defense budget 4. The National Security Making Process Under Trump • Trump’s Generals • Deconstructing the State Department • Foreign Policy by Twitter • Empty Bench vs. the Blob: The political/bureaucratic/institutional response by GOP, Dems, others to Trumpism, America First 5. American Internationalism in the Age of Trump • Public opinion on Trump’s America First doctrine • Changing American internationalism more generally
• Conclusion: Prospects for American Grand Strategy
• What has the Trump Doctrine meant for US and the world? • What’s better/worse now than it was before Trump? • International Response to Trump – foreign governments, allies, global public opinion, and how Trump has affected America’s reputation, etc. • What does the Trump Doctrine mean for the future? • Why restraint looks even better after some Trump…