Out of Order Podcast

Unleashed or Unhinged? One Year of U.S. Global Leadership Under President Trump

February 12, 2018
3 min read
Photo Credit: Michael Candelori/Shutterstock

In the fourth episode of Out of Order, having discussed the roles of Germany, China, and whether other international actors can fill the void left in the international system, this episode focuses on the country that supposedly is leaving this void: the United States. Hosts Rachel Tausendfreund and Peter Sparding talk with GMF Senior Fellow and Director of the Asia and Future of Geopolitics programs Jamie Fly, a long-time Republican foreign policy hand, about U.S. foreign policy in the unpredictable first year of the Trump presidency.

Fly argues that Trump’s foreign policy has been relatively conventional, if not too conventional — when you set asides his tweets and some erratic statements. He goes on to contend that U.S. foreign policy thus far has actually continued the trend of the previous democratic administration by stepping even further back from a position of leadership in the world order we’ve come to know. Yet, at the same time, recent domestic political developments and behaviors of the Trump administration are definitely worrying and could irreversibly hurt U.S. standing in the world going forward.

The discussion also dives into the questions of whether it is possible to (and if we should) separate tweets and statements from policy, and whether the increasing discrepancy between rhetoric and actions will be impossible to keep up? What are the long-term consequences of this for U.S. alliances and the international order? Is the U.S. public turning away from international engagement due to the failure of previous U.S. foreign policy or due to other factors like rising nationalist sentiment and a feeling of displacement in a fast-changing world? Things to make you THINK: Rachel recommends Masha Gessen’s essay in The New York Review of Books, “To Be or Not to Be,” that explores all different sides of ones identity as an international immigrant. It begins, “Thirty-nine years ago my parents took a package of documents to an office in Moscow. This was our application for an exit visa to leave the Soviet Union. More than two years would pass before the visa was granted, but from that day on I have felt a sense of precariousness wherever I have been, along with a sense of opportunity. They are a pair.” Link: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018/02/08/to-be-or-not-to-be/ Given the focus of this episode is on the future of U.S. global leadership, Peter suggests also digging into the similar debate happening on the other side of the pond around the future of EU global leadership and more specifically Germany’s role in it. He recommends starting with a recent policy essay by Hans Kundnani and Jana Puglierin entitled, “Atlanticist and ‘Post-Atlanticist’ Wishful Thinking,” which argues that those in favor of maintaining the status-quo in the transatlantic relationship are underestimating the current crises and “although it is true that Trump is not America, neither is the foreign policy establishment, as the Atlanticists seem to suggest.” Link: http://www.gmfus.org/publications/atlanticist-and-post-atlanticist-wishf... And Jamie, as a former Capitol Hill staffer and lifelong Republican, points to President Trump’s first State of the Union address as a window into the “powerhouse presidency that might have been.” Link: https://www.c-span.org/video/?439496-1/president-trump-delivers-state-un... Go In-depth… If you enjoyed this episode and want to learn more, we would recommend these pieces to start you off: One Year of President Trump: Views from Around the World: http://www.gmfus.org/publications/one-year-president-trump-views-around-... The Contested Global Landscape in Trump’s New Security Strategy: http://www.gmfus.org/blog/2017/12/20/contested-global-landscape-trumps-n... The U.S.–France Special Relationship after a Year of Trump: http://www.gmfus.org/publications/us-france-special-relationship-after-y...