Even as the incoming administration fills its top cabinet and advisory roles, Trump’s foreign-policy plans are still a mystery.
- By David RothkopfDavid Rothkopf is visiting professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His latest book is The Great Questions of Tomorrow. He has been a longtime contributor to Foreign Policy and was CEO and editor of the FP Group from 2012 to May 2017.
On this week’s episode of The E.R., FP‘s David Rothkopf, Kori Schake, Rosa Brooks, and David Sanger of the New York Times navigate through the avalanche of post-Election Day announcements, news, commentary, and speculation surrounding the appointments and policies of the incoming administration and what it will all mean for the world.
Digging past the headlines, the panel looks deeper inside Washington politics to ask: What is Donald Trump’s foreign-policy apparatus actually going to look like?
Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon were among the first top advisors named by the Trump camp this week (as the incoming White House chief of staff and White House chief strategist, respectively). So who else will take the top cabinet positions in his administration? Names like retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, former national security advisor Stephen Hadley, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton are popping up in news reports — and keeping everyone in Washington on their toes. But even if they are appointed, the panel speculates, could a single would-be Trump advisor really be the driving force in determining foreign policy?
The panel’s answer is, ultimately, no. An administration’s foreign-policy positions are the result of the cocktail of personalities that inform them. And that, in the end, is the key to successful strategy.
So how will the new and still coalescing Trump administration handle various key policies? How will Trump actually act as president? How will he shape (and possibly reshape) the international order? Much to the chagrin of the panel, it’s possible no one really knows except Donald Trump himself.
David Sanger is the national security correspondent for the New York Times and author of Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power. Follow him on Twitter at: @SangerNYT.
Rosa Brooks is a senior fellow at New America and teaches international law, national security, and constitutional law at Georgetown University. She is the author of the newly released book “How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything.” Follow her on Twitter at: @brooks_rosa.