Magazine article Reason

Foreign Policy: Missed Opportunities

Magazine article Reason

Foreign Policy: Missed Opportunities

Article excerpt

IT WAS NOT unreasonable to hope that President Donald Trump might improve on the foreign policy performance of his predecessors. Sure, the hopeful were grading on a curve that included George W. Bush and Barack Obama. But what gave a sliver of hope to those who yearned for greater realism and restraint were candidate Trump's counter-establishment pronouncements about the "big, fat mistake" of Iraq and the problems posed by our wealthy, free-riding allies.

Unfortunately, Trump's first year has been full of missed opportunities and worrying signs that this presidency won't provide the change required to make American foreign policy great again. A huge whiff came on Afghanistan, where Trump had the chance to draw down U.S. commitments or even end the longest war in American history. Against his better instincts, the president sided with the generals who wanted more troops--but who don't appear to have a strategy to significantly change the outcome. He also could have appointed more realists to the administration to balance status quo voices in the White House and throughout the bureaucracy

Trump's approach to North Korea has been dangerously confrontational. Rather than stressing deterrence and diplomacy, his rhetoric has exacerbated tensions. Meanwhile, hawks in the administration insist on unrealistic denuclearization, thereby cranking up the likelihood of unnecessary war.

Middle East policy has been similarly troubling, with Trump de-certifying the Iran nuclear deal (but wisely not killing it). …

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