Posted by DrJohn on 10 April, 2017 at 6:27 am. 3 comments already!



Is this the week Donald Trump found a foreign policy? Or a foreign policy found him?

President Trump bombed Syria, talked tough on North Korea, dumped his chief political ideologist, Steve Bannon, from his National Security Council, opened up a rift with Russia over the Middle East, and summited with the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and China.

Amid the head-spinning drumbeat of new developments, few doubted that Trump had made what conservative commentator Byron York called a “whiplash-inducing change” in his administration’s foreign policy, by all accounts impulsively jumping into a Syrian quagmire he had long pledged to avoid, and doing so in response to the televised barbarity of a chemical attack just days after his own top advisers publicly declared they were no longer interested in forcing Syrian dictator Bashar Assad from power.

Ever since his shocking election upset victory in November, national security hands have been waiting for Trump’s first international crisis to understand more about how an untested president would lead, and this week will undoubtedly be studied as key to decoding his presidency’s emerging—and fast-evolving—approach to the world. So what have we learned from all the months of debating whether Trump will prove to be the “America First” neo-isolationist leader his campaign rhetoric suggested, or a dangerous warmonger who’s promised not to let the United States get pushed around anymore, now that the crisis has actually erupted?

First and perhaps most important: No matter how Trump ultimately comes out of the foreign-policy ideology test, what he really seems to want to be on the world stage is the not-Obama. And when faced with a choice, the best way to understand what Trump will do is to expect he will opt to differentiate himself as much as possible from his predecessor.

“He’s proved he’s not Obama—and that’s useful to him,” one former senior Obama official told me, one of many veterans of the previous administration I spoke with Friday who were supportive of Trump’s airstrike on Syria.


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