In defense of President Trump’s emerging foreign policy
It seems an odd classification, but U.S. foreign policy, especially its policy towards Russia, is now filed in media and government under a new subsection on elite attitudes towards President Trump. Analyses of President Putin’s character, questions of whom we should fight (both with and against) in Iraq and Syria, whether Washington should rebuild or further scale down America’s nuclear armory, U.S. relations with the Muslim world, what attitude the U.S. should take towards the various unraveling crises in Europe, and whether Israel should be treated as a favored ally or a pariah (an especially ticklish question if Bibi Netanyahu remains in office) — all these questions are examined not on their alleged merits or in line with a particular strategy, but through the lens of what Trump seems to think about them. In most cases, the presumption is that if he favors a particular policy, either it’s wrong or he is doing so from corrupt and/or sinister motives.
The presumption of wrongness arises from the all-but-universal belief of America’s political, cultural, and media elites that Trump is so obviously a crass, impulsive, and ignorant blowhard that almost any action he takes on a serious topic will be wrong nine times out of ten. The sinister motive most commonly attributed to him is that he’s in hock to Moscow in return for its collusive assistance in winning the November election, or because it knows something to his discredit. There is almost no evidence for this second explanation, and what little cause there is for suspicion shrinks by the day. One might suppose that such a serious charge against a U.S. president would not be advanced, even by hints and raised eyebrows, without very solid evidence amounting almost to proof. Yet as each new twist on the Manchurian Candidate charge falls by the wayside, the accusers leap onto another one and gallop off furiously in all directions.