96 Foreign Aff. 10 (2017)
Trump the Traditionalist: A Surprisingly Standard Foreign Policy

handle is hein.journals/fora96 and id is 646 raw text is: 

Trump the


A   Surprisingly Standard
Foreign Policy

Elliott Abrams
I   magine two U.S. foreign policy
    analysts plucked from their Washing-
    ton think tanks and marooned on
desert islands, one just before Donald
Trump   announced  his presidential
candidacy and the other just before the
2016 election itself. After the election,
both are told that the Republican can-
didate won and are asked to predict the
new  administration's foreign policy.
Whose  predictions would have been
more accurate?
   At times this spring, the second
analyst's forecasts would have been on
the money. Having followed the bitter
election, he or she would have foretold
the nature of the transition and the
early weeks of the new administration
as a logical continuation of the campaign.
The  starkly nationalist rhetoric of
Trump's inaugural address; the president's
unpredictable tweets; the departure of
Trump's first national security adviser,
Michael Flynn, after only 25 days in
office; and a whole host of other develop-
ments  solidified many professionals'
sense that Trump would break dramatically
with long-standing traditions and with
recent policy. As the months passed,
however, the analyst's predictions would
ELLIOTT ABRAMS   is Senior Fellow for
Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on
Foreign Relations.

have been increasingly off base as the
administration's foreign policy became
more  conventional.
   Meanwhile, the other desert-island
refugee, who would have missed Trump's
surprising ascent and the bizarre cam-
paign that followed, would likely have
predicted that no matter who won the
GOP nomination and despite any idiosyn-
crasies that emerged during election
season, the realities of governing and
of leading in a complex world would
ultimately produce a fairly familiar
Republican approach to foreign policy.
And  on balance, this analyst would have
been right.
   The Trump  administration has been
in office for less than six months, and
most jobs below the cabinet level still
remain unfilled, so one must tread
carefully when making judgments about
its approach or predictions about its
future. But it is already clear that this is
not a revolutionary administration. The
broad lines of its policy fit easily within
those of the last few decades. Trump
might not be a conventional president,
but so far, his foreign policy has been
remarkably unremarkable.

This is a far cry from what many observers
expected (and what some continue to
worry about): a radical departure from
tradition and the emergence of what
might be called a Bannonite adminis-
tration, after Steve Bannon, the populist-
nationalist provocateur who chaired
Trumps  campaign and was later named
his chief White House strategist. Before
joining the Trump team, Bannon had led
Breitbart News, the online publishing
company  that he described as the
platform for the alt-right and that


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