How Trump is Reshaping US Foreign Policy

Trump’s policies are shaping America’s relationship with the world in major ways even if those policies don’t exhibit a consistent strategy, observes Paul Pillar.

By Paul Pillar

The urge within the commentariat to describe every president’s foreign policy in terms of some clearly defined doctrine is as strong as ever, but Donald Trump presents would-be doctrine-definers with perhaps their toughest challenge yet.

This observation is not by itself a criticism of Trump’s policies. Doctrine is overrated. Given the complexities of America’s relationship with the world and the multiplicity of U.S. interests involved, any set of policies that fits neatly into a simply defined doctrine is apt to be too simple to uphold those interests effectively. But Trump’s policies are shaping America’s relationship with the world in major ways even if those policies don’t exhibit the sort of consistent strategy worthy of the lofty term “doctrine”.

One recent attempt to define a Trump Doctrine was reported by Jeffrey Goldberg, who quotes a “senior White House official with direct access to the president and his thinking” as saying that there definitely is a Trump Doctrine, which is, “We’re America, Bitch”. That remark has some validity in that it reflects an attitude that many of Trump’s policies have exhibited. The remark is a crude synonym for assertive nationalism, a label that clearly applies to much of what Trump has said and done and which analysts of an earlier administration applied in more genteel form to the likes of Richard Cheney.

But as a broad description of Trump’s overall approach to the world, the concept falls short in not only precision but also direction. How can it be reconciled with Trump’s campaign theme of getting out of the sorts of costly and bloody foreign engagements that people like Cheney got the United States into?

Another recent effort at doctrinal labeling comes from Robert Kagan, who defines Trump’s foreign policy as being a “rogue superpower,” an approach Kagan describes as a “third option” that contrasts with both internationalism and isolationism. This concept accurately captures much of what Trump’s policies have been about, particularly a disdain for international rules and order and even efforts to undermine or destroy the rules. Other parts of Kagan’s picture and his applying of labels, however, are off the mark. His description of Trump’s policies as “pure realism” should make true realists cringe.

Trump lectures the world at the U.N. last September. (Screenshot from Whitehouse.gov)

Realism does not, as Kagan would have it, see international politics as nothing but a “struggle of all-against-all” in which allies and alliances are blithely blown off. The use of alliances, based on partially convergent interests, in balance-of-power politics is at the core of classical realism. And although the notion of all-against-all is found in much Trumpian rhetoric, it does not reflect the administration’s policy in the Middle East, with its rigid tying of the United States to Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Kagan also states, “The United States’ adversaries will do well in this world, for Trump’s America does not want war.” If “Trump’s America” refers to major trends in American public opinion that helped to put Trump into office, that statement is true. But as with much else with the first year and a half of Trump’s administration, there are disconnects between domestically-directed rhetoric and outwardly-directed policy.

It is hard to square Kagan’s comment with Trump’s appointment of uber-hawk John Bolton as national security advisor, or with the extent to which the administration already has used military force in Syria and in the name of counterterrorism elsewhere.

Traits, Not Doctrine

Conspicuous and consistent traits of Trump’s foreign policy do not involve the sorts of objectives or principles that customarily merit the term “doctrine”. The traits have major effects and the effects sometimes fall into discernible patterns, but the effects are not objectives of a coherent strategy. The most conspicuous trait of Trump’s policies has been to do the opposite of, and to try to destroy, anything significant that his predecessor accomplished. This trait is at the center of much of what Kagan’s “rogue superpower” has done—specifically, the rejection of important agreements on the environment, trade, and weapons proliferation.

But anti-Obamaism is entirely negative; it says nothing about what kind of world the United States is for and wants to build. Depending on the specific issues involved, it can take Trump in different directions from just tearing down multilateral agreements.

Self-promotion as a supposedly master deal-maker is another major characteristic of Trump’s approach to foreign policy. It is another trait that does not make for consistently applied foreign policy principles that could plausibly be described as a doctrine. Any sense of order and consistency gets lost, as individual deals are separately hyped or castigated depending on who reached them. Hence Trump’s self-congratulation for nuclear diplomacy with North Korea that already compares unfavorably with previous diplomacy with Iran that Trump has vociferously condemned.

Hardly unique to Trump is the influence on policy of those who helped to elect the president. Even setting aside the still-under-investigation Russia dimension of this subject, such influence in Trump’s case has been readily apparent—especially when comparing Trump’s earlier rhetoric with his later positions on matters involving Israel and the Gulf Arabs.

Related to such campaign indebtedness is the priority that Trump continues to give to playing to his domestic base and seeking applause lines at home. This habit has had significant effects on U.S. foreign relations, but again the effects have had little or nothing to do with any coherent vision of America’s place in the world. The United States is embarking on a trade war with China and Europe less because a trade war had a prominent place in someone’s foreign policy doctrine than because of applause lines that get applause due in large part to domestic economic dislocations tinged with xenophobia.

(A constant theme of Trump’s going back decades is that other countries have been taking advantage of America.)

A current example of the same phenomenon is how the pressure the administration has been feeling over its handling of child immigrants along the southern U.S. border has further poisoned U.S. relations with European allies—which, in any coherent foreign policy doctrine, ought to be two entirely unrelated subjects. Part of Trump’s response to the pressure has been to expound ever more forcefully about the supposed evils of immigration. This response has included an outburst about Germany that not only was factually false regarding crime but constituted an extraordinary effort to undermine the incumbent government of an important U.S. ally in favor of some of the more extreme elements in that government’s domestic opposition.

A family problem. (Twitter)

Finally, there is the possible influence on foreign policy of the private financial interests of Trump and his family. This subject so far involves a murky and incomplete picture with mostly anecdotal reporting and with many questions still under investigation. But given that this U.S. presidency, more than any other in recent decades, has unabashedly co-mingled public interests with private ones, the subject cannot be ignored.

Resulting Patterns

The broader effects of all these aspects of Trump’s conduct of foreign policy do not represent objectives that flow from any foreign policy doctrine. Indeed, for the most part they are not even objectives. One such effect is a serious weakening of the North Atlantic alliance. Another is a reversal of any progress that the previous administration made (and it didn’t make much) in pivoting away from deep U.S. immersion in the conflicts of the Middle East. This pattern is illustrated by continued U.S. support for the highly destructive Saudi and Emirati intervention in Yemen, which recently expanded with an assault on the port of Hodeida.

The collective effect of the traits still leaves big uncertainties about some important questions, with different traits tugging in different directions. Prime among these is the future U.S. relationship with China—a clear vision of which ought to be part of any foreign policy doctrine worthy of the name. Trump’s initial steps regarding North Korea have been mostly to China’s liking and imply the forging of a cooperative relationship. But the trade war obviously points in the opposite direction.

One more generalization can be made about the overall effect that Trump’s approach probably will have on America’s place in the world and that involves a vocabulary often used in discussion of foreign policy doctrines. The United States will be more isolated than before.

Other states, whether friend or foe, will be less willing to bargain with the United States when it is governed by an administration that reneges on previous agreements and that, other governments believe, bargains in bad faith. Such mistrust impedes the reaching not only of the sort of multilateral agreements that Trump rejects but also the sort of bilateral agreements that he says he favors. To return to Kagan’s typology, Trump’s America is moving closer to isolationism—in diplomacy, if not in the use of military force—not because isolationism is part of any Trump Doctrine but because it is a byproduct of Trump’s way of doing business.

This article originally appeared in The National Interest.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is author most recently of Why America Misunderstands the World.

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54 comments for “How Trump is Reshaping US Foreign Policy

  1. July 12, 2018 at 11:26 pm

    Useful analysis.

  2. Don Bacon
    July 11, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Good comments, but a major Trump development has been overlooked by many. The US has demanded that no country buy oil from Iran after November 4. Many countries have declared that they will not obey the US, using alternative non-petrodollar currencies if necessary. The petrodollar (as I understand it, not being an economist) is a key element of US world hegemony which is threatened by other strategies as well.
    Now if we accept the fact that US world hegemony has been bad and evil in many ways, and contributed to severe national debt, then this is good news, whether it has been a conscious act by Trump or not.

    • Jeff Harrison
      July 11, 2018 at 1:34 pm

      Well, I did briefly mention it in my rant but… the reason it got a passing mention and not center stage is that Trump is exacerbating things, not the prime player. Our first use of the dollar’s preeminence dates back to the early ’60s when we started trying to put the screws to Cuba. It was used a couple of times in subsequent years on other countries (notably China after Tienanmen square) but it really was Obama that went bullshit with sanctions and that was the beginning of the end. Not only are the number of countries that conduct much of their business in national currencies and not the US dollar increasing but after “they” threatened to disconnect Russia because they reacted to the US fomented coup in Ukraine, Russia developed their own system. So the US dollar is in the process of being sidelined as a currency because there are too many risks associated with its use.

      But FYI&E. The petrodollar has two major bennies for the US. One, countries have to buy dollars to be able to complete their transactions because the transactions are actually in dollars even if the countries in question are Germany and Denmark. They don’t actually buy them so much as they borrow them which allows banks to make interest on them. And two, especially with oil transactions being done in dollars, there is huge demand for dollars which means that the US can sell its debt and there will be a brisk market for it. The US will have to pay higher interest rates for our T-bonds and bills that’s going to translate into inflation here at home.

  3. Jeff Harrison
    July 11, 2018 at 12:10 am

    In a word: Poppycock. You would do well to quote others besides the likes of Jeffrey Goldberg and Robert Kagan. They’re both one trick shysters. Your problem Mr. Pillar, is that you’ve been in government way to long to appreciate who and what Donald J. Trump is. Donald J. Trump is a bully and con artist with an ego the size of all outdoors who would be a petty crook if he hadn’t gotten a patrimony of ill-gotten gains from his father’s nefarious activities. All that money allowed him to screw all sorts of things and people up but he was rich enough to avoid the label petty crook. Even still he was a world class fuck up who went bankrupt 3 times and screwed a lot of people out of millions of dollars.

    When he was elected he inherited a government that was running on imperial delusions and hubris. So what does a con artist who isn’t all that bright but is street wise do with such an organization? He flexes what he thinks are the muscles of the organization. So he walks away from the TPP and it’s Atlantic counterpart. After all what does an imperial nation like the United States need do other than to start exercising its imperial prerogative? Like I said, he’s not that bright and probably still doesn’t realize that arrangements like that underpin the US’s global influence. Walking away from it allowed the other countries to delete a number of odious clauses for the trans/multi-nationals that were inserted at the US’s insistence.

    Likewise, he walks away from the Iranian nuclear deal. He didn’t make it and Israel is complaining about it and, Lord knows, American regimes since Harry Truman have been kowtowing to the Zionist state. He thinks he can command a “better deal” but he doesn’t realize that the US had the moral high ground (even if it didn’t deserve it) prior to his withdrawal from the multinational agreement and now it doesn’t. He clearly doesn’t understand the consequences of that. America’s true vassal states – the old colonial powers – won’t do much for Iran but Russia, China, India, and Turkey (at least) will and they are all using national currencies. He doesn’t understand the benefits and powers that having the petrodollar bestows on the US.

    Again, likewise, he’s imposing tariffs on friend and adversary alike. After all, the purpose of their existence is to enhance our wealth and that’s not happening. Even Trump is sharp enough to realize that the US is the world’s biggest debtor nation by at least two orders of magnitude and that’s not a good thing. They must be made to enhance our wealth under the rubric of paying for our security umbrella, or security service, or, extortion whenever done by the Mafia. The salubrious result here is that all the other nations will realize that they aren’t really independent. How long do you think most of them will tolerate that?

    • Bill
      July 12, 2018 at 12:55 pm

      Great post! Thanks

    • rgl
      July 13, 2018 at 9:33 pm

      Concur with Bill. Good post.

  4. mike k
    July 10, 2018 at 10:21 pm

    And yet…. consider this amazing analysis of the coming Trump/Putin summit:

    https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/07/10/will-trump-and-putin-begin-remaking-world-helsinki.html

    Is this really possible!??

  5. backwardsevolution
    July 10, 2018 at 9:30 pm

    Trump does not believe in war; he thinks war is a waste of lives and expensive. One uptick for Trump. The neocons want war and the neocons are dangerous to sitting presidents, so he throws them a bone here and there.

    Trump does not believe in NATO; he thinks it useless and expensive. Two upticks for Trump. Vested interests (neocons) want to see it continued. “Fine,” says Trump, “but the other countries must pay their way.” Trump is throwing a wrench in the works because the other countries do not want to pay or can’t afford to pay.

    Trump nixed the Paris Climate Accord. Three upticks for Trump. What is the good of having an accord when certain countries (China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc.) are able to opt out and continue to pollute to their hearts’ content? Of course, vested interests (multinational corporations) wanted this Accord signed because that would have prevented jobs from coming back to the U.S. These corporations loved the cheap labor/no environmental controls these countries provided, and they don’t want that changing. And the Wall Street banks are chomping at the bit to get their hands on carbon credits. Whenever you see Wall Street urging something be rammed through, look out, you’re about to be *aped!

    Trump doesn’t like NAFTA, just as he didn’t like the TPP that he ripped up. Four upticks for Trump. He wants to deal individually with countries, the U.S. with Canada or the U.S. with Cambodia. The problem with lumping a bunch of counties together is that if you want fairer relations/more balanced trade with one, you can’t get it because that would upset the arrangements with the other countries. Yes, the vested interests (multinational corporations) like it this way. That’s the way they handcuff you. They have got things the way they want them (or they’re trying awfully hard to get them here), and along comes Trump and overturns the apple cart.

    Trump wants to control the borders. Five upticks for Trump. Imagine that, wanting to control your borders, wanting to be choosy about who you let in! The immigration system is no more than a glorified Ponzi scheme, and vested interests (Chambers of Commerce, Wall Street, mega corporations, NGO’s, charities, churches) love their Ponzi schemes. I mean, if you can’t offshore jobs (because they can’t be done elsewhere) but you still need cheap labor, why not open the floodgates? Of course, you must be careful to pretend you’re doing it for benevolent reasons, you must spread the propaganda out good and thick; that way the public gets sucked in. You end up with constant inflation (more demand for consumer goods/housing/medical/education, etc.) and wages never rise. That’s “Corporate Heaven”, isn’t it? Who cares if thousands of existing citizens are running on a treadmill or offing themselves with drugs/suicides! Let’s just bring in more.

    Trump wants a “fair” trade deal with China, not a one-sided affair. Six upticks for Trump. Both the Chinese and U.S. elite have gotten rich off this arrangement; the peasants, not so much.

    I’d say that Trump is actually trying to do right by the country, but he must do it slowly and gingerly so as not to upset the vested interests.

    • Joe Tedesky
      July 10, 2018 at 10:14 pm

      I’ll say this for you backwardsevolution you bring more to the table than just ‘lock her up’ when it comes to Trump supporters.

      I said this before, how I now belong to the Observer Party…. cause I haven’t a clue to where any of this is leading. I do know that the metal scrap iron pile I’ve watched for over the last 20 years has never gone so up and down, and then up and back down again, has it recently has been for over the last 2 months. The people I know in the steel industry are saying positive things, and that’s unusual. Foxconn is building in Wisconsin, and today it was announced Tesla is planning on assembling vehicles in China.

      For everything you have a uptick to, I know there could be a rebuttal, but what I like about you backwardsevolution is you come prepared. I’m saying this to you, because we Americans got to learn to talk to each other. Enough of this nonsense of screaming at each other over MAGA Hats, and why is there even a AntiFa..I mean who invited them?

      So rather than debate you, because you are a Trumpster, I will add to what you uptick over…. and hope you are right. Joe

      • backwardsevolution
        July 11, 2018 at 6:57 am

        Joe – “because you are a Trumpster” made me laugh. For that I am giving you a coveted uptick. I don’t agree with everything Trump says or does, but I “think” I can see where he’s going and where he wants to get to, and because I think these things would be good for the American people, I stick up for him. I kind of admire how he’s weathered the Russiagate storm, how, despite the media’s 24/7 onslaught against him, he refuses to go down.

        Time will tell, Joe, but I sometimes wonder, if he had not been stopped from meeting with Putin right away, what they both could have accomplished. Good talking to you, Joe.

        • Joe Tedesky
          July 11, 2018 at 10:42 am

          Here’s a bit of something a little off the subject, but interesting none the less. Apparently according to the linked article suspects have been identified in the Seth Rich murder.

          https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2018/07/exclusive-report-witness-prepared-to-identify-two-killers-of-seth-rich/

          I’m only posting it here, because I know many of you are interested in this squashed story.

          • backwardsevolution
            July 11, 2018 at 2:26 pm

            Joe – Julian Assange seemed to imply that this was no hack, but a leak, and that leak was provided by Seth Rich. Poor kid, didn’t realize who he was playing with. I hope they catch his killer(s). If you or I had have done it, we would have been identified in about two seconds. I mean, there are cameras everywhere nowadays. What are the chances that Seth Rich, some random kid, got murdered for nothing, no attempt to steal his belongings? That doesn’t just happen. Shot in the back of the head, execution-style? No way.

            There’s something very fishy going on here. The DNC servers would provide the answer. Why aren’t these servers front and center? One great big, giant cover-up.

          • Joe Tedesky
            July 11, 2018 at 10:43 pm

            Not to worry Donna Brazile is on to it.

          • rgl
            July 12, 2018 at 11:13 am

            Thanks for the link Joe. I have no idea how ‘real’ this story is, but it definitely worth keeping an ear to …

  6. Pft
    July 10, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    Trump is a puppet of the global ruling elite. The goal is to isolate the United States economically, while linking the rest of the world into a “multi-polar world order, fighting U.S. global hegemony.” Basically using the US to terrorize the test of the world into unifying against it.

    Trump , Russia, and Israel all want Iran out of Syria and back to Iraq to the east of the Euphrates River. Israel will get the land west of the Euphrates as “Greater Israel”. Iran will happily integrate into the One Belt One Road Initiative

    Russia is a fake enemy for now working with US and Israel to keep American and Europe electorates financing the building of the NWO via the Military-Industrial-Intelligence-Security Complex.

  7. Gregory Herr
    July 10, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    Seriously? One of the “effects” of Trumpian foreign policy is “a reversal of any progress that the previous administration made (and it didn’t make much) in pivoting away from deep U.S. immersion in the conflicts of the Middle East. This pattern is illustrated by continued U.S. support for the highly destructive Saudi and Emirati intervention in Yemen, which recently expanded with an assault on the port of Hodeida.”

    For starters, the “conflicts of the Middle East” are the result of colonial subjugation, and more recently, the heavy hand of a warmongering empire along with obscene machinations of Saudi and Israeli sidekicks. Uncle Sam didn’t “immerse” himself in a pool of circumstance not of his own making…he said “what we say goes” and poisoned the well others have to live with.

    Obama took up where Bush left off…and then some. Bush’s destruction of Iraq was topped off with Libya and Yemen. Obama and his CIA effected a most heinous and vile dirty war upon the Syrian people. This is not “pivoting away”. And to say there is some kind of “pattern” with regard to Trump “reversing” Obama’s “progress” illustrated no less by Trump’s CONTINUING Obama’s dirty war on Yemen really defies logic.

    As others here have noted, the foreign policy of the U.S. has pretty much been in a steady state for quite some time.

    • Joe Tedesky
      July 10, 2018 at 9:54 pm

      Gregory, I’m of the opinion that whenever Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital he reversed his fate. The Zionist would help Trump’s cause by quieting down the narrative of RussiaGate, like bringing in Alan Dershowitz to petition for Trump. Then there is the Adelson/Saban types who are Israeli firsters …. starting to get the picture.

      I’m even more curious to how the Israeli’s are swirling around within the cyclone of Russian and U.S. interactions, and where the Zionist slow breeze their schemes between the 2 super powers.

      I think Trump feels that by shaking up the world with sanctions, and tough talk, he is bringing more jobs home. I just wonder if Trump is planning on a drop in the dollar, which will make exports more attractive. Although retaliatory sanctions imposed on the U.S. by other nations could slow down any ramp up in export inventories.

      America for a long time has been on a path to isolation, but Trump gives us all the more a face of our American hubris with his Nationalist ideology leading the way like a loose barge. Trump is in sync with many other nations though, since neo-liberalism with it’s corrupted bureaucracies are being brought down by the frustrated voters that has to deal with this over taxing bunch wherever they breed. Division amongst the populace reassures democracy will never truly prevail. The soiled UN, and the heavily indebted NATO, are both but obvious targets of foreign interference too Trump’s core base, and the Donald seems more than happy to oblige his followers with their not well thought out strategies with his ignorance adorned for the world to see, as America goes awkwardly along on its own way…. that is until Israel says otherwise.

      Always good to see you Gregory. Joe

      • Gregory Herr
        July 11, 2018 at 8:36 pm

        Always good to share thoughts with you Joe.

        I guess Trump’s infrastructure plan hit a brick wall in Congress so that can is kicked down the road. Our country could use the investment. It’s also too bad we aren’t finding better ways to work with China on trade issues. Although the ratio of import-export with China is about 3:1, those exports are pretty significant. I don’t understand much about how it all shakes out, but something tells me trade “wars” as opposed to trade agreements seem a dicey way to play. Wish it were as simple as the butcher providing the carpenter with meat while he gets a new deck built out back. The butcher ends up real pleased with his well-built addition and the carpenter stocks his freezer.

        • Joe Tedesky
          July 11, 2018 at 10:41 pm

          To reduce our trade deficit with China all that needs done is to get Apple, Nike, Levi, etc. to start manufacturing here in the U.S.. Seeing how Foxconn is erecting a location in Wisconsin gives one hope to that’s what they are doing…. bringing it back home.

          As far as American cars having any real advantage over heavily tariffed imports, well the parts for those American assembled cars are mostly foreign made. If you want an American made car, then start manufacturing the parts here in the U.S. I will keep you posted to if I hear of anything like that happening, but so far I haven’t heard of a return exodus from foreign shores to ours…. stay in touch.

          Take care Gregory. Joe

    • backwardsevolution
      July 11, 2018 at 12:19 am

      Gregory Herr – probably a year ago now I started looking at where the recent wars had been (in Africa, in the Middle East). It all pointed to oil – in the Sudan, Somalia, various other countries, Yemen, Libya, Iraq. If I remember correctly, there’s some major oil in Yemen. If you are not willing to sell out your country, you are either sanctioned to death or annihilated.

      • irina
        July 11, 2018 at 1:36 pm

        I remember when (briefly) Bush the Lesser’s adventures in Iraq
        were called Operation Iraqi Liberation. Then someone realized
        the unfortunate but accurate acronym that spelled out, and the
        name was quickly changed to Operation Iraqi Freedom . . . .

      • Gregory Herr
        July 11, 2018 at 8:43 pm

        Confessions of an Economic Hit Man for sure.

    • Realist
      July 11, 2018 at 5:53 am

      Ya got that right. The Clintons, the Bushes, Obama, Trump and all the bozos who didn’t make it out of the primaries in the last several election cycles are all part of that “club” George Carlin brought to everyone’s attention–which we ain’t in. They are all members of the War Party, whether in the Democratic Wing or the Republican Wing does not matter, the policies never really change.

      They are centered on accumulating all the remaining resources of the planet for the Club, no matter how many non-members have to be slaughtered in the process. Just run a balance sheet on all the remaining energy and material resources, extrapolating out to the end of this century and you will clearly see where humanity (and the rest of the biosphere) is headed. Off a cliff. Rank will have its privilege: a few more years of survival than the rest of us, but any and all golden ages are behind us in the rear view mirror. The remnant population might eke out a medieval existence, if they can recapture the lost pre-industrial technologies. If not, the remaining hunter-gatherer tribes in any remaining untouched wilderness will inherit the earth, not the meek, and not the parasitic elites. Just as well.

      (At least they won’t have “moderation” in the post-apocalyptic era.)

  8. Bob Van Noy
    July 10, 2018 at 8:01 pm

    “The United States’ allies are about to find out what real unilateralism looks like and what the real exercise of U.S.?hegemony feels like, because Trump’s America does not care. It is unencumbered by historical memory. It recognizes no moral, political or strategic commitments. It feels free to pursue objectives without regard to the effect on allies or, for that matter, the world. It has no sense of responsibility to anything beyond itself.” (From the linked WP article by Robert Kagan)

    While Mr. Kagan attributes the above to Trump Foreign Policy, I would have thought the comment more appropriate to the Kagan Neocon Policy Of the last several administrations.

    Basically any plan in opposition to a Robert Kagan plan would be an improvement…

    • Skip Scott
      July 11, 2018 at 7:53 am

      Yeah Bob,

      A real case of the pot calling the kettle black.

      • Bob Van Noy
        July 11, 2018 at 7:58 am

        Exactly!

  9. strngr-tgthr
    July 10, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    A better title for this article would be “How PUTIN is shaping US foreign policy”. You don’t need any deeper analysis or to waist anymore ink over this than that. I just don’t know what is taking Robert Mueller so long?? (sigh)

    • July 11, 2018 at 12:16 am

      Really? You post a comment that is filled with the nonsensical, evidence free nonsense that is Russiagate at Robert Parry’s legacy news site? Do you have any idea where you are? Why don’t you go into the archives here and educate yourself instead of just parroting Clintonista propaganda.

    • LarcoMarco
      July 11, 2018 at 2:42 am

      Another mindless robo-submission from HillBillious camp.

    • Skip Scott
      July 11, 2018 at 8:06 am

      Wow! Now we’ve got “waist” for “waste” to go along with all the others. What country are you from, Stranger Together?

      • Jordan Ross
        July 11, 2018 at 10:19 am

        lol @ “stranger” together – this is either a DNC troll, funded by the Clintons, David Brock, Podesta and their ilk, or a brainwashed supporter. The difference is irrelevant. Also, just because someone doesn’t know the difference between “waist” and “waste” doesn’t mean they aren’t a native-born U.S. citizen and English is their first and only language – our education system is a complete failure in its supposed goal of educating our youth and producing critical thinkers. It is, however, quite effective at churning out mindless worker drones for the corporate state.

  10. July 10, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    I am actually glad that Trump has exposed the truth of the US as empire of world destruction, not the phony blather of past liars who claimed to be bearers of “democracy”. For sure, Kagan’s lips do glisten with the blood of multitudes! All Kagan wants is to bring down Russia, he and his psychopathic neocon ilk. They never met a war they didn’t like, except they exempt themselves and their kin.

    Unfortunately, the losers have been the US middle class since the Reagan years, and Trump’s policies guarantee that they will lose again. The tax cuts again benefit the upper tier, and now the trade wars will exacerbate the serious problems of the people already struggling.

  11. Greg Schofield
    July 10, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    Praise him don’t detract from what he is doing. A man of limited intelligence, who lays on the table crass business negotiation as a substitute for diplomacy is not unusual head in running the American empire Bush II, Reagan, perfected the art under an unfortunately well ruin machine of destruction and brutality — they were insidious, well groomed, glove puppets.

    Now the result of their work, and all the others is Donald Trump, the clownish pall bearer of the American empire, just as brutal, but completely senile, the world waits upon its last breath, and dear Donald inches it into the its coffin. Good work.

    Incapable of reform, corrupt beyond measure a blight upon humanity, the American empire has president that represents everything it is, and to top it off, if it weren’t for all the suffering, this is a comedy act worthy of Jacques Tati that is rolled out in daily installments each funnier than the last.

    President Donald is the product of our times, a world too timid to be rid of the bully huckster that is the American state, no longer deserves a veneer. So praise him as the naked embodiment of the end of this nightmare. Donald is the name he should always be called for who cannot be reminded of the famous duck whose voice patterns are so similar, as are his mad schemes, and constant outbursts furious inconsequential anger.

    • Dave P.
      July 10, 2018 at 7:46 pm

      Greg S. – Great comments. So true.

  12. Mild -ly Facetious
    July 10, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    Indeed, Trump is reshaping U S foreign policy in his own spontaneous/impulsive (and shallow) image and likeness.

    The rough-life millionaire elbow rubbing of New York City politics has taken root in The Capital of the United States under the WORLD DIRECTION CHANGING hands of Donald J. Trump — stitched or “tweeted” together, not with old school “NEW DIRECTIONS” concepts but with Strict Right Wing Patriarchal/Police State Judicial compulsions, obligations, compromises and constraints concealed
    under American Flag “Patriotism” and the Communistic Missive of MAGA.

    Take-A-Look, Mr. Trump, at the final nations competing in the football World Cup.

    Three are from Western Europe and have an amalgamation of racially diverse players.
    The outlier is the team from Eastern Europe where fences are built /token “Outsiders” away

    These are the ‘Whites only’ governments you favor, Mr TRUMP !!
    You are a trader to your own people, you narcissistic Heathen !!

    The menace to social order that you are
    The collection of wealthy money loving Bigots
    with which you surround yourself
    will one day be the same Political Fools
    which murdered Saddam and Gadhafi
    JFK and MLK,RFK & The Lord of Glory.

    How pathetic are they that believe a Lie?

    The dreadful tomorrows that Await Them?

    • Mild -ly Facetious
      July 10, 2018 at 7:03 pm

      the above literary
      configuration

      is the shape of

      things to come,
      under Trump… .
      .
      .
      shuurrrr .

    • Abbybwood
      July 10, 2018 at 8:50 pm

      Let’s be perfectly frank here.

      Trump told the American voters EXACTLY what his intentions were.

      The thoroughly corrupted DNC sold their meager soul to HRC in 2015 and they paid the political price for having done so.

      Donald Trump won the election and the arrogant and corrupt pathological liar HRC LOST the election. Shafting Sanders didn’t help. A TIME magazine survey revealed that it was the Sanders voters who were disgusted with the DNC and Clinton who put Trump over the top. Count me among them.

      I have done the DEM EXIT. And I feel much better for it.

  13. Andrew Nichols
    July 10, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    Another recent effort at doctrinal labeling comes from Robert Kagan, who defines Trump’s foreign policy a….an approach Kagan describes as a “third option” that contrasts with both internationalism and isolationism. This concept accurately captures much of what Trump’s policies have been about, particularly a disdain for international rules and order and even efforts to undermine or destroy the rules.

    Umm Doesnt this accurately describe the US under every POTUS?

  14. KiwiAntz
    July 10, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    Trump’s foreign policy is completely muddled & incomprehensible & will be a disaster for the US! He is alienating the US from its traditional allies & other Nations & this has already forced those Nations to join together, forging new alliances to counter US threats & bluster & in the process diminishing America’s prestige & status, to that of just a selfish rogue Nation, a Mafia backyard bully & petty thug! The American people voted for a change from the status quo, when they elected Trump, turning their backs on deceitful career Politicians! Trump’s a cluster bomb lobbed into the Whitehouse to disrupt everything & by god, he’s doing this but he’s never going to make America great again because, I’m afraid, that manufacturing boat has already sailed & its sailed to China! Trump fails to understand the interconnectedness of Global Trade & how Corporations operate, they are transnational & don’t base their businesses based on Patriotism or loyalty to a particular Nation, such as the US, they base location on where the Labour is cheap, regulations minimal & taxes are low. Trump’s Economic Warfare in the form of sanctions to punish Nations to bend to US will & ambitions & starting Trade Wars will only harden other Nations to seek new Trade alliances, the cause & effect opposite of what America is trying to accomplish which will further isolate America & hasten the demise of its unipolar Empire! And America has massive Trade deficits because the simple fact is they consume more goods than what they produce, they are a consumption Nation that doesn’t manufacture anything to compete with other, more efficient Nations! As for NATO, Trump’s moaning about how much it costs to fund NATO is unjustified & misleading, as NATO is a de facto arm of the US Govt & Military which allows the American hegemonic Empire to operate & maintain that Empire’s footprint on European soil. So it’s only fitting the US pays for most of it, & if not, get the hell out of Europe & stop whining & whingeing, that’s the price you must pay for wanting a Global Pax Americana. NATO is irreverent & unnecessary as Russia or any other Nation in Europe is not a threat to European security, it only exists to maintain America’s Empire & to buy American weapons of War & should be consigned to the scrap heap of History & done away with!

  15. mike k
    July 10, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    How many ways are there to say that Donald Trump doesn’t know what the hell he is doing? To try to make sense out of this halfwit’s meanderings is a futile endeavor. Reasonable people can only wonder – what on earth is he going to screw up next?

    Beware in dealing with Trump of the human tendency to try to make sense out of something, even if it does not make any sense at all. Take any ignorant, opinionated American and put him in the office of President, and he will act like Trump – shooting wildly in all directions, and acting out his more stupid impulses. Trump is simply a fool – get used to it!

    • KiwiAntz
      July 10, 2018 at 5:31 pm

      What’s the saying Mike “there’s no fool like a old fool”? Trump’s certainly confirmed that to be true!

    • KiwiAntz
      July 10, 2018 at 5:44 pm

      In the immortal words of Forest Gump? Stupid is, what Stupid does? Sounds like It was written for Trump? And Trump’s like a box of chocolates you never know what you’re going to get? Run Donald, Run!

    • Abbybwood
      July 10, 2018 at 8:55 pm

      We will find out out if he knows what he is doing when the vote comes in the Senate for Kavenaugh.

      Since he CLERKED for the guy he is replacing and has vowed to strictly rule according to The Constitution, I’ll betcha he sails through just like Gorsuch did.

      Much ado about nothing!!

      • backwardsevolution
        July 10, 2018 at 11:53 pm

        Abby – yes, and Kavenaugh said that Supreme Court Associate Justice, Elena Kagan, hired him as a professor at Harvard. She must have liked what she saw.

        • ronnie mitchell
          July 11, 2018 at 3:05 pm

          Did Justice Kagan like these things…?
          “Since President George W. Bush appointed Kavanaugh to the appellate bench in 2006, he has amassed a record that shows extreme hostility to the rights of consumers, voters, women, gays and lesbians, workers and immigrants. If confirmed, Kavanaugh will take the seat vacated by Anthony Kennedy, the panel’s most frequent “swing voter,” who announced his retirement late last month. The nominee would give the court a solid five-member right-wing majority….”
          Or this?
          “In 2009, Kavanaugh authored an article for the University of Minnesota Law Review in which he argued that sitting presidents should be immune from both civil suits and criminal prosecutions. …”
          I know I sure don’t like those things and they expose the mindset of much worse possibilities.
          https://www.truthdig.com/articles/brett-kavanaugh-trumps-new-supreme-court-pick-will-drive-american-law-hard-to-the-right/

          • backwardsevolution
            July 14, 2018 at 5:50 am

            ronnie mitchell – I don’t know enough about Kavanaugh yet, but many people have spoken highly of him. I’d prefer to find out the facts first before launching into hysteria and paranoia.

  16. Realist
    July 10, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    No other country has laid waste to America’s economy, domestic discourse and geopolitical interests. Those were all the consequences of insane policy and ferocious, mindless infighting by America’s own ruling elites.

    Russia has not attacked America in any way (and neither has Iran, Syria or any of the other Islamic targets of American military might across the globe), it is just being used as a fall guy by the Democrats who had formulated an atrocious foreign policy under Obama (and the preceding several presidents), who casually use total kinetic war in addition to the usual lies and propaganda to hoodwink the American public into supporting their mad pursuits, and who have been doing so in spades ever since Hillary ran (and lost) the worst presidential campaign in recent history, one in which she was repeatedly caught lying and illegally manipulating the process to sandbag Bernie Sanders and control the narrative throughout the American corporate media which shamelessly continues to act as her tool.

    You would think she had won the election the way she and the Democrats have orchestrated the neutering of Trump’s ability to control foreign policy through legislation he signed himself under threat from Herr Mueller, especially vis-a-vis Russia and especially relating to the endless sanctions and military confrontations with NATO all along that country’s borders.

    It is disingenuous of Mr. Kagan to say that he and his neocon cronies don’t want war. War with Russia, China and Iran is precisely their quite measured goal. They are foolish enough to think such a war is winnable or that the rewards for winning such a war justify the losses inherent in waging it. So, he’s like Madelein Albright writ large in terms of what he’s willing to see YOU and the rest of humanity pay for his vainglorious visions of world conquest. For him, it will be worth it, for the rest of us, not so much. I could go on… but there might not be time for you readers to savor my long complex sentences if I persist. This is not so much a sleepwalk into self annihilation by the human race, but rather a deliberate headlong plunge.

    • mike k
      July 10, 2018 at 4:58 pm

      I heartily agree Realist, our situation is totally, outrageously flabbergasting beyond belief!

      • Mildly - Facetious
        July 10, 2018 at 7:32 pm

        What, pray tell, is our situation under Trump The Dissembler .. ?

        Those of you whom support him
        now find yourselves
        in a blue pill/red pill matrix of,
        (to coin a phrase) —
        “how the yuck did we get here” ?? !!!
        (courtesy of HBO) —

        Were you Fooled by
        love songs and lonely hearts?

        Or are you Simply the FOOLs
        on the hill the Beatles distinctly

        Described with the eyes in their heads..
        Spinning Around (wealthy opportunities)

        Not Giving a Yuck as to the care & treatment
        of the citizens you serve / or their expectations

        Of peaceful / or, bountiful tomorrows
        under the Flag you so reverently worship ??

        YOU HIDEOUS CREEP AND SELFISH MONSTER ??? !!!

    • KiwiAntz
      July 10, 2018 at 5:37 pm

      Always great comments from Realist & Mike K, I totally agreed on everything you guys have said! Well done guys.

    • Seer
      July 11, 2018 at 4:15 am

      No, the neocons don’t want war. That is, just as a bank robber doesn’t want to have to have a shoot-out in order to steal, the neocons would prefer to be able to roll over another country and pilfer without firing a shot. In today’s world countries are a bit more savvy and can see this all coming their way- the neocons are more than willing to take it to the next step (start shooting).

  17. will
    July 10, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    well except for the part where he’s consistently attempting to break up NATO

    • mike k
      July 10, 2018 at 5:03 pm

      Except when he is egging NATO on to attack Russia. Of course Trump’s prophetic vision for the world is not hindered by such a petty thing as consistency or logic.

  18. OpenMind2
    July 10, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    Not a bad article. However, to quote Kagan, the standard bearer of unipolar world policy, whose lips glisten with the blood of multitudes, who promulgated the NAC project which his wife instigated, as if he is some kind of expert on world affairs; negligent of history, blind to what he has inflicted, and completely wrong about nearly every program he has initiated or supported, has damaged American credibility and leadership in some ways that are not fully repairable. Kudoz to Mr. Trump for eliminating the policy delusions and bloodlust of the beltway set from serious discussions. Pragmatism and reasoned realism now reign and just in time.

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