It seems to be an article of faith among many members of the U.S. foreign policy community that, whenever Donald Trump—and his administration—leaves office, a subsequent president (whether a Democrat or a non-Trumpist Republican) will push a reset button that will return the United States to its position in world affairs that it occupied in 2008 or 2016. They take reassurance in the assumption, however, that Trump’s presidency can only represent a brief aberration and that, as Lawrence Freedman notes, “When Trump ceases to be President, things should return to normal.”
An open multilateral trade system is under direct challenge from the policies of President Donald Trump. The year 2018 will be crucial.
This paper reviews US trade policy one year on after the election of Donald Trump. It demonstrates that after a year of exacerbating transactionalist and protectionist rhetoric we are now in a position to observe the direction policy is taking in practice. Sadly, it is becoming clear that practice is indeed matching rhetoric. The evidence is gathering. Commencing with withdrawal from the TPP, policy has hardened towards an open multilateral system. The year 2018 has seen attacks on the WTO (stopping appointments to the Appellate Board), followed by moves to introduce tariffs on white goods, aluminium and steel and a strategy for direct activity towards China. The year will also see a hard line towards NAFTA re-negotiations. The prospects of enhanced trade tension –trade war, even– is the obvious next stage flowing from Trump’s policy. Major players are likely to retaliate.
Much ink has been spilled in the last 12 months over whether President Donald Trump can have a grand strategy and, if so, what form it takes — or should take. Before Trump had even assumed office, Micah Zenko and Rebecca Lissner accused the president of “strategic incoherence” and a transactional approach to international relations focusing on bilateral deals. Hal Brands differed from this view by characterizing Trump’s grand strategy as “resurgent nationalism,” while other scholars argued that the president is following a Jacksonian tradition of American foreign policy based on “national honor” and “reputation.” More boldly, Richard Burt, a Cold Warrior who served at the highest levels of the U.S. national security establishment, harkened back to Nixon and Kissinger in prescribing “a grand strategy of great-power balancing” or else “all bets are off.”
“A sovereign, united, democratic Europe.” This is the vision French President Emmanuel Macron outlined in a landmark speech on September 26, at the Sorbonne in Paris. Calling for a more united and democratic EU is not new. However, for a leader from a major country to passionately assert that European integration reinforces national sovereignty, rather than diminish it, is refreshing.
The last decade has been difficult for the EU, considering the combination of economic and security crises, alongside the 2016 UK decision to leave the Union and the rise of Euroskepticism across Europe. Even so, “We forgot that we are Brussels . . . Only Europe can give us some capacity for action in today’s world,” Macron declared. He bolstered his bold vision with a breathless list of policy proposals, including on European defense.
Macron’s defense vision seems to draw less on traditional French strategic ideology, or a teleological idea of European integration, and more on the urgent strategic necessity for Europeans to work together infused with a strong sense of political opportunity.