Home/Daniel Larison/There Is No ‘Trump Doctrine’

There Is No ‘Trump Doctrine’

Reince Priebus’ description of the “Trump Doctrine” is just as confused as you would expect:

Trump is “reshaping our position in the world,” Priebus said, and “really establishing, I think, a Trump Doctrine in setting some certain lines of where we’re not going to allow people like [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] to go, but at the same time making it clear that we’re not interested in long-term, you know, ground wars in the Middle East, but obviously focusing in on ISIS and what we’re doing in the Middle East to protect us here in the United States, working with China on ongoing issues with North Korea that are very real and are serious issues that takes cooperation within the region to handle appropriately.”

That rambling statement is confirmation that there is no discernible “doctrine” guiding Trump’s foreign policy decisions. “Focusing in on ISIS” suggests that the administration is interested in long-term ground wars in the Middle East, or at the very least isn’t necessarily against them. The examples given to illustrate the so-called “doctrine” are a jumbled mess of ad hoc actions that don’t fit into any larger strategy. Insofar as these actions have identifiable goals, they are either unrealistic (e.g., forcing North Korea to give p its nuclear program) or unrelated to U.S. security (e.g., attacking the Syrian government). Priebus slaps a “doctrine” label on all of this to pretend that these decisions are all part of a coherent plan, but it is almost entirely a series of reactions (and overreactions) to whichever events happen to catch the president’s attention.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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