Podcast

Six Months Of Trump: The Good, The Bad, and The Downright Mystifying

The president’s tweets and cringe-inducing rants have antagonized allies and enemies alike. But is his foreign policy the doomsday many foretold?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets US President Donald Trump  prior to the start of the first working session of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, northern Germany, on July 7.
Leaders of the world's top economies will gather from July 7 to 8, 2017 in Germany for likely the stormiest G20 summit in years, with disagreements ranging from wars to climate change and global trade. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / IAN LANGSDON        (Photo credit should read IAN LANGSDON/AFP/Getty Images)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets US President Donald Trump prior to the start of the first working session of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, northern Germany, on July 7. Leaders of the world's top economies will gather from July 7 to 8, 2017 in Germany for likely the stormiest G20 summit in years, with disagreements ranging from wars to climate change and global trade. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / IAN LANGSDON (Photo credit should read IAN LANGSDON/AFP/Getty Images)

When Donald Trump took the oath of office on January 20, we were told to prepare for an unparalleled showing of brute strength on the world stage. In his first 100 days, the president pledged to renegotiate the Iran deal, release a comprehensive plan to defeat the Islamic State, and show China who’s boss. Six months later, none of these have materialized. The administration has, however, made good on its promises to kill the Trans-Pacific Partnership and withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords. Oh, and he fired a bunch of missiles at Syria.

On this week’s second episode of The E.R., FP’s executive editor for the web Ben Pauker is joined by FP contributors Derek Chollet and Dov Zakheim to discuss foreign policy in the first six months of the Trump administration. Has anything really changed?

Trump may want you to believe that his administration is a clean break with the past, but is his foreign policy thus far actually all that different than Obama’s — or what Hillary Clinton’s would have been? Can the appointment of highly regarded defense and intelligence officials to key posts mitigate the “America Firstiness” Trump claims as a strategy? There’s not a lot of love lost on the panel for the president, but there is some debate as to whether his incompetence and unpredictability should actually mollify anxious observers with a renewed confidence in America’s fundamental checks and balances. It’s not much, but it’s a start.

Derek Chollet served in the Obama administration for six years in senior positions at the White House, State Department, and Pentagon, most recently as the U.S. assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. Currently the executive vice president at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, he is the author of The Long Game: How Obama Defied Washington and Redefined America’s Role in the World. He is co-editor of FP’s Shadow Government. Follow him on Twitter: @derekchollet.

Dov Zakheim is a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies as well as a senior fellow at CNA Corporation. He previously served as under secretary of defense and chief financial officer for the Department of Defense during the George W. Bush administration. He is a contributor to FP’s Elephants In The Room.

Ben Pauker is FP’s executive editor for the web. Follow him on Twitter: @benpauker.

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