White House & President

Trump goes it alone

It is now undeniable that President Trump's combative, impetuous character and cluster of bedrock beliefs about a zero-sum world of ruthless, cutthroat competition among rivals have combined to produce a situation that may well shred the global trading and alliance system, as well as the rule-based international order, that the U.S. has built and nurtured over the past 70 years. From his statements during the GOP primaries and general election, we knew this was one possible outcome of a Trump presidency. But we had reason to hope that in the unlikely event of a Trump victory, it would prove to have been mere rhetorical bluster. The administration's message and behavior throughout Trump's first year in office was mixed enough to leave everyone uncertain. Yes, he still hurled insults at allies and friends via Twitter and sometimes before the press, and he did bow out of the Paris climate accord early on. But the Iran deal remained in force, he kept stabilizing troops in Afghanistan, and he even attempted (twice) to enforce the chemical weapons ban in Syria. (True, he did it by violating international law against the unauthorized use of military force, but these were hardly the first examples of an American president engaging in that kind of hypocrisy.)

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