The post-World War II liberal world order, defined by open markets, rules-based international cooperation and a benign American hegemony, has brought unprecedented peace and prosperity to the world. Yet it is now under threat from nationalists and isolationists in Europe and the United States as well as revisionists in China, Iran and Russia.
Allies Hope for the Best from Trump, Must Plan for the Worst
For almost a century, America’s strategic priority has been to prevent the emergence of a dominant power in Eurasia that could challenge it for world supremacy.
Halford Mackinder recognized as early as 1904 that a single power could lord over the continent if it controlled the entire Eurasian “Heartland”, stretching from Moscow to Tehran to Vladivostok.
Alfred Thayer Mahan and Nicholas Spykman argued it was rather control of the “Rimlands” on the edge of Eurasia that could tip the balance of power: Europe, the Middle East and East Asia.
Their ideas were not mutually exclusive. They both informed the United States’ successful policy of containment during the Cold War. To block Russian ambitions, America allied with democratic Europe, Turkey, the shah’s Iran and Japan. It exploited the Sino-Soviet split and armed the mujahideen in Afghanistan to hasten the Soviet Union’s demise.
Now Donald Trump is overturning this century-old wisdom. Read more
American president Donald Trump reportedly presented Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, with a $374 billion invoice for missed contributions to NATO when she visited Washington DC earlier this month.
As first reported by The Times, Trump arrived at the figure by calculating how much Germany has fallen short of NATO’s 2-percent defense spending target since 2002 and then adding interest.
A German official described the move as “outrageous” to The Times. Merkel ignored it.
It’s hard to imagine a previous president treating an ally so cruelly, but the story is not at all unbelievable given what we know about Trump: that he humiliates people, is intimidated by powerful women and sees international relations in transactional terms. Read more
Donald Trump’s disinterest in the transatlantic alliance, and Vladimir Putin’s attempts to undermine it, have left Europe with little choice but to turn the world’s fourth center of power: China.
The two aren’t natural allies. The EU has long irked the Chinese with its lectures on democracy and human rights. The EU insists on dealing through multilateral institutions when China would prefer to throw its weight around in bilateral talks.
But the world’s second and third economies are condemned to work together in the era of “America First”. Read more
If there was still any hope in Europe that Donald Trump might turn out to be less disruptive than he promised, the first weeks of his presidency must have put such hopes to rest.
It’s been less than two weeks and Trump has already disheartened America’s allies in Asia by withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership, giving China a golden opportunity to take charge of regional economic integration; offended Australia and Mexico but hinted at improved relations with Russia, and banned Muslim immigrants and refugees from seven countries — including those who were previously approved for a visa — making a mockery of the rule of law and betraying a complete lack of compassion.
Imagine the damage he can — and will — do in four years. Read more
Donald Trump heralded a new era of American isolationism last week, proclaiming in his first public address as president, “From this day forward, it’s going to be only America First.”
It remains to be seen how far Trump will go in reversing seven decades of American grand strategy, but he has already united Republican-leaning thinkers who normally disagree on foreign policy in despair. Read more