by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
[T]hese existential crises — Iran, North Korea, China, Russia, the Middle East — all preceded Trump. But they also all tested the Trump doctrine of restoring deterrence without engaging in costly optional wars in which in tactical victories cannot translate into definable strategic success or clear U.S. advantage in a cost-benefit analysis.
Trump’s enemies hope (translated into politicalese) that his ambitious foreign policy does not follow the success of Trump’s dynamic economy. At home, Trump caused a stir by all at once opening up more federal leasing for energy exploration, green-lighting pipelines, massively deregulating, cutting taxes, jawboning outsourcers and off-shorers, confronting asymmetrical trade partners, pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and the Paris climate accord, and recalibrating NAFTA. That huge risk of maximum changes everywhere and swarming the opposition all at once achieved a force-multiplying effect on the economy that soon boomed.
Trump probably believes that if he goes full-bore abroad, true to form, a domino effect will follow, given that the U.S. gains more sway each time it faces down a miscreant. The stakes are certainly high. A big China trade deal, an agreement to denuclearize North Korea and Iran, flipping Putin to become a neutral rather than an adversary, or a Middle East halfway accord could change global realities and empower the U.S. And so the gambler Trump wagers that he can do overseas what he did at home and pull off land-breaking agreements — all at once.