If there is one field where the liberal news media gets all paranoid and totally out of control, it’s foreign policy in the age of Trump. The president is going to start a nuclear war because he tweets. Did anyone really believe that who wasn’t an addict of MSNBC (or is it MSDNC)? He’s not a madman. In fact, President Trump was given much credit by South Korea for brining North Korea to the negotiating table. Discussions about denuclearization and a peace treaty to end the Korean War were also discussed. Kim Jong-un, the murderous dictator of North Korea, also ventured onto South Korean soil to meet President Moon Jae-in, a first since the end of the Korean War. No nuclear war started. At the G-7 Summit in Quebec, yeah—there was some consternation about President Trump’s anti-Obama attitude towards the whole conference. Europe’s balking at U.S. trade policy, which includes tariffs, is a significant point of contention. Long story short; Trump threw a grenade into the dojo of the liberal international order.
If there is also one field for the elite, the condescending slice of America’s academics who were laid waste in 2016, to gripe and moan about the president, it’s foreign policy. The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg wrote a piece about what’s emerging as the Trump Doctrine, which has so far been amorphous and unable to be described. That’s partially how the president wants it, but it could be summed up in three words: “we’re America, bitch,” though this was one of three summations he could best describe after speaking with experts in this field—and with Trump officials:
The Brookings Institution scholar (and frequent Atlantic contributor) Thomas Wright argued in a January 2016 essay that Trump’s views are both discernible and explicable. Wright, who published his analysis at a time when most everyone in the foreign-policy establishment considered Trump’s candidacy to be a farce, wrote that Trump loathes the liberal international order and would work against it as president; he wrote that Trump also dislikes America’s military alliances, and would work against them; he argued that Trump believes in his bones that the global economy is unfair to the U.S.; and, finally, he wrote that Trump has an innate sympathy for “authoritarian strongmen.”
The third-best encapsulation of the Trump Doctrine, as outlined by a senior administration official over lunch a few weeks ago, is this: “No Friends, No Enemies.” This official explained that he was not describing a variant of the realpolitik notion that the U.S. has only shifting alliances, not permanent friends. Trump, this official said, doesn’t believe that the U.S. should be part of any alliance at all. “We have to explain to him that countries that have worked with us together in the past expect a level of loyalty from us, but he doesn’t believe that this should factor into the equation,” the official said.
The second-best self-description of the Trump Doctrine I heard was this, from a senior national-security official: “Permanent destabilization creates American advantage.” The official who described this to me said Trump believes that keeping allies and adversaries alike perpetually off-balance necessarily benefits the United States, which is still the most powerful country on Earth. When I noted that America’s adversaries seem far less destabilized by Trump than do America’s allies, this official argued for strategic patience. “They’ll see over time that it doesn’t pay to argue with us.”
The best distillation of the Trump Doctrine I heard, though, came from a senior White House official with direct access to the president and his thinking. I was talking to this person several weeks ago, and I said, by way of introduction, that I thought it might perhaps be too early to discern a definitive Trump Doctrine.
“No,” the official said. “There’s definitely a Trump Doctrine.”
“What is it?” I asked. Here is the answer I received:
“The Trump Doctrine is ‘We’re America, Bitch.’ That’s the Trump Doctrine.”
I asked this official to explain the idea. “Obama apologized to everyone for everything. He felt bad about everything.” President Trump, this official said, “doesn’t feel like he has to apologize for anything America does.” I later asked another senior official, one who rendered the doctrine not as “We’re America, Bitch” but as “We’re America, Bitches,” whether he was aware of the 2004 movie Team America: World Police, whose theme song was “America, F**k Yeah!”
“Of course,” he said, laughing. “The president believes that we’re America, and people can take it or leave it.”
Sorry, we cannot let our friends, or enemies, take advantage of us on Trade anymore. We must put the American worker first!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 11, 2018
Goldberg adds that Wright’s analysis was “prophetic,” as Trump is supposedly cozying up to strongmen, which, by the way, is not an unprecedented move in American foreign policy history. He also notes that maybe there is some inherent quality to it, though Goldberg also says that there’s a delusional aspect to it in the sense that it could end up weakening America by “demoralizing freedom-seeking people around the world.”
This isn’t shocking. America First—how many times was that said on the trail, the inauguration, and even in some speeches today? There’s a new sheriff in town. He’s not Obama. He’s a cheerleader for the nation, and yeah—it’s a take it or leave it proposition. I don’t mind this. I don’t mind “we’re America, bitch.” The country wanted a bomb thrower, someone who would shake the system. That is Donald J. Trump. It’s also an easily marketed and understood message to his base. Let’s coast with this. I don’t mind bonfires. I like watching things burn from time to time and Europe should be wary of trying to go at it alone.