Trump Foreign Policy

Have we really made “big progress” with North Korea?

Featured image President Trump is hailing North Korea’s announcement that the regime is willing to end the testing of its ICBMs. He tweeted: North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the World – big progress! Look forward to our Summit. I don’t want to rain on Trump’s parade. If he gets a boost in »

Advice and descent

Featured image In Allen Drury’s Advise and Consent, still in print after all these years, the president’s left-wing nominee for Secretary of State has a secret. As a young man — echoes of the Hiss case — he was a member of a Communist cell. Leffingwell’s Communist past is a secret that must be covered up. Complications ensue, giving life to a Washington novel that is one of our favorites. Novelist Thomas »

An “unbelievably small, limited” strike?

Featured image In 2013, when the Obama administration was trying to convince Congress to authorize an attack on Syria to enforce its “red line’ against Assad using chemical weapons, Secretary of State John Kerry promised that the attack would be an “unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.” He often used the word “degrade,” rather than “destroy,” to describe the impact of the contemplated attack on Syria’s chemical weapons program. Kerry received plenty »

Notes on the Syrian strike

Featured image President Obama drew his infamous “red line” (“red line for us”) against the use of chemical weapons by the the Syrian regime on August 20, 2012. It proved to be something of a Chamberlainite red line “for our time.” The Syrian regime employed chemical weapons against civilians in Ghouta one year later, in August 2013. In the event, President Obama revealed his “red line” to be imaginary. He invited Vladimir »

U.S. and our allies strike Syria

Featured image President Trump has kept his promise to strike Syria in response to the recent chemical attack launched by the Assad regime. Tonight, U.S. air power attacked three Syrian targets. The first was a research center believed to be used to develop chemical weapons. The second was a chemical weapons storage facility. The third was a command center believed to be used in connection with chemical warfare. The U.S. acted together »

Trump weighs rejoining the TPP

Featured image Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton didn’t agree on much during the 2016 campaign, but they did agree that the U.S. should not participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). I read this as a sign that the U.S. should stay in the TPP. That’s not why I favored staying in, though. Nor was my opinion based on the virtues of free trade. It’s possible to be a free trader and still »

Can Russia “play” Trump?

Featured image Today, President Trump tweeted: “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all. . . .” I think Trump is reacting to criticism that by threatening an attack on Syria he tipped of the Syrians and the Russians, in contradiction to his oft-repeated argument that we should leave our adversaries guessing. In his tweet, Trump seems to be saying »

Nuking the Iran deal

Featured image The Iran deal comes up for recertification by President Trump on May 12. Last time around, this past January, Trump vowed to “terminate” the agreement unless the participating European allies agreed to strengthen it. “This is a last chance,” Trump said. “[E]ither fix the deal’s disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw.” It’s a hot subject in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the confirmation of Mike Pompeo »

Should Trump be previewing Syrian strike?

Featured image During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump often refused to say what action he would take in response to various world hot spots because, he argued, it is foolish to tell our adversaries what we’ll do before we do it. I viewed this response at least in part as an evasion — an excuse for not discussing policy. But the response made some sense and Trump may not have been entirely »

In Twitter Diplomacy, China Is Up, Russia Is Down

Featured image Yesterday the financial markets soared in response to a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xi’s speech was conciliatory, and suggested that, far from igniting a trade war, President Trump’s proposed punitive tariffs have brought about important and positive changes in our economic relationship with China, including, among other things, lower tariffs on American automobiles and better protection for American intellectual property. Time will tell how this plays out, but »

President Trump on Syria: Playing chess or clueless?

Featured image President Trump seems intent on withdrawing American forces from Syria in the very near future. He takes the position that we are in Syria only to defeat ISIS. With this objective nearly accomplished, he argues, it’s almost time for our forces to come home. Over the weekend, however, Trump responded to the barbaric gassing of Syrian civilians by blasting “Animal Assad,” calling out Russia and Iran as responsible for the »

A trade war we’d be unlikely to win

Featured image According to President Trump, trade wars are easy to win. This may be true in some cases, but a trade war with China would be anything but easy. Steve says, based on sources close to Trump, that the president believes we can win a trade war with China because China needs the U.S. more than the U.S. needs China. Thus, the theory goes, the Chinese will blink first. Trump’s premise »

A Better Way to Pressure China?

Featured image As I mentioned here once before, I know from my own sources close to Trump that he believes we can indeed win a trade war with China because China needs the U.S. more than the U.S. needs China, and thus that the Chinese will blink first. Maybe this is correct, and maybe Henry Olsen is correct to argue that tariff policy should be understood politically rather than economically. Generally I »

Trump to impose more sanctions on Russia

Featured image The United States is expected to impose additional sanctions against Russia by the end of this week, the Washington Post reports. The sanctions will target oligarchs with ties to Vladimir Putin. It’s not clear how many Russians will be punished, but at least half a dozen are expected to be. These sanctions aren’t earth-shaking, but they come on top of other strong actions Trump has taken against Russia. As the »

President Grybauskaite Gets Trump

Featured image Yesterday President Trump conducted a brief press availability with the Baltic heads of state, following his meeting with them. Understandably, the main news that came out of the event was Trump’s comments on the border and the caravan. But I was struck by the statement by Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, which I don’t think has been reported anywhere. The context was NATO, but her observations on how Trump operates are »

The horror! Trump congratulates Egyptian leader. . .just as Obama did

Featured image Fresh from attacking President Trump for congratulating Vladimir Putin over his re-election, the mainstream media now tut-tuts Trump for congratulating Egypt’s Abdel Fatah al-Sissi. For example, the Washington Post’s story notes, pointedly, that “Barack Obama declined to invite Sissi to the White House because of concerns about his human rights record.” However one views Trump’s call to Putin ( this was my take), Sissi stands in a very different position. »

The Bolton factor

Featured image The appointment of John Bolton as President Trump’s National Security Advisor has induced another round of hysteria among the Democrats and their media adjunct. He is the man, if there is one, who can help the president achieve his objectives with North Korea, Iran, and elsewhere around the world. See, for example, my daughter Eliana’s Politico piece on Bolton’s bureaucratic skills. Bolton is a man of the Churchillian persuasion. For »