Will Trump’s Lucky Streak Run Out?
President Trump has been lucky in 2017, argues Johns Hopkins University Professor Eliot A. Cohen in a pre-released essay from the March/April Foreign Affairs, but “there is reason to think his second [year] will be considerably more difficult. Not only are foreign policy challenges beginning to pile up; a year of the Trump administration has left the United States in a worse position to handle them.”
Cohen writes that Trump “does not seem to realize that he has not faced any tests comparable to the 9/11 attacks or the 2008 recession, and there is no reason to believe that he has developed the knowledge or judgment to handle such a challenge when it does arise. What he attributes to genius, most observers correctly attribute to luck. And there is a good chance that 2018 will be the year his luck runs out.”
While “some have put their faith in the administration’s ‘grownups,’” they “may not always be inclined to curb Trump’s worst instincts,” the author notes. “They form at best a partial, and not necessarily a permanent, brake.”
Cohen observes, “Trump appears to believe that he achieved great things during his first year in office and that his critics have been proved both vicious and wrong. In fact, he has demoralized the institutions of the U.S. government on which he depends. He has disappointed anyone, at home or abroad, who expected him to mature. He is exhausting his first group of appointees, and he does not have much of a backup bench. And perhaps worst of all, he thinks he knows what he is doing.”
While “the Trump administration ostentatiously walked away from the promotion of human rights and the maintenance of world order as animating principles of U.S. foreign policy,” Cohen writes that “Congressional mandates and the sheer inertia of previous policies got in the way of ‘America first.’”
“There is no doubt that career diplomats, intelligence officials, civil servants, and military leaders share a deeply rooted consensus about U.S. foreign policy and security. And this consensus unquestionably diverges from Trump’s worldview in its support for free trade, U.S. alliances (particularly NATO), and the U.S.-led global order.”