Walter Russell Mead inadvertently points out that Trump’s foreign policy is dangerous and irresponsible:
President Trump’s foreign policy is anything but isolationist. It is ambitious, interventionist and global. Having determined after almost two years of trying that the three revisionist powers—China, Russia and Iran—cannot, at least for now, be pried apart, the administration is preparing to take them on all at once.
It’s true that Trump isn’t an “isolationist” (no one is), but his “omni-directional belligerence” makes his foreign policy even worse. Taking on Russia, China, and Iran all at the same time is simply stupid no matter what one thinks of the individual policy choices. By challenging both major authoritarian powers at the same time, and throwing the Iran obsession in on top of everything else, the Trump administration is making far too many enemies and driving allies away at a rapid pace. Picking fights with European allies in the process is further proof that the administration’s recklessness is matched only by its ineptitude. If Trump wanted to demonstrate the limitations and costs of hawkish unilateralism, he could scarcely have done a better job over the last year and a half. This is a recipe for failure, and it will damage U.S. interests now and in the years to come. Mead is generally sympathetic to Trump’s awful foreign policy, so it is significant that he has made a point of highlighting how aggressive and confrontational it is. It is a foreign policy that only hawks and hard-liners could support, and it is leading the U.S. on a path to conflict with one or more other governments.
Can the Trump administration unite a deeply divided country behind an expensive, risky and ambitious foreign-policy agenda to block the objectives of America’s determined rivals? And can its strategy work?
The short answers are no and no. Many Trump voters thought that they were voting for something very different from an “expensive, risky and ambitious foreign-policy agenda.” They will justifiably want no part of the disaster-in-the-making that Mead is promoting here. Democratic voters will want nothing to do with any agenda associated with Trump. Most independent voters are unlikely to have much appetite for picking fights with all adversaries all at once, and they are even less likely to have any confidence in Trump’s leadership. Trump has neither the credibility nor the stature to unite the country behind any foreign policy goals, and he and his advisers haven’t the first clue how to counter U.S. rivals effectively. The policies they are pursuing are destructive and unwise, and that will only become more apparent with time. Trump isn’t an “isolationist.” He is something much worse than that: a reckless, militaristic president advised by ideologues and hard-liners.