Post-election reading list: Trump’s foreign policy portends “world crisis”

euroactive-trump5440390625_feab8a9520_zMuch of the USA – and most of the world – were stunned by Donald J. Trump’s victory over Hillary R. Clinton last night.  His campaign was filled with bombastic claims,  but gave little detail on foreign policy.  However, now “the Donald” will be President and Commander-in-Chief of the superpower at the center of the global security system since WWII.  It is time to look at Trump’s foreign policy program and what it means. Below is an initial reading list I am giving to my students today.

An interesting study of Trump’s foreign policy ideas  has been done by Thomas Wright at Brookings Insitute in Washington in recent months. And, this is the first important point to see:  that Trump indeed has serious and deeply held ideas on foreign policy. Wright identifies three main tenants, as he explained in an interview in the Atlantic:

Trump’s isolationist ideology has three components, according to Wright: 1) opposition to U.S. alliances; 2) opposition to free trade; and 3) support for authoritarianism. In Wright’s view, these three beliefs, if translated into policy in a Trump administration, could do away with the liberal international order that the United States helped design after World War II and has led ever since.

Taken together, Wright argues these portend a change to the world order of a magnitude not seen since the pre-War 1930’s, when the Nazi party won elections in Germany and began the process of unraveling the then-extant world system. Note: he is not saying Trump is a Nazi, or that this change will necessarily be as sweeping as then; rather if Trump acts as he believes in foreign policy, it will break today’s world order.

So, in the face of such world-changing events, one must understand the motivations and world view of its actors – and first and foremost those of Mr. Trump. So, I am giving my students a the following articles to discuss.

Reading List On Trump’s Foreign Policy Ideas and Their Likely Impact (v 1.0)

  1. How Donald Trump Could Change the World: A scholar of U.S. foreign policy (Thomas Wright) explains why the 2016 race could be the most consequential election—anywhere—since the 1930s.” Interview with Uri Friedman, Atlantic, November 7, 2016.
  2. Thomas W|right, “48 Hours from a New World Crisis“, Brookings Institution, November 7, 2016
  3. Georgi Gotev, “World becomes unpredictable as ‘populist’ Trump wins US election,” (Constantly updated with European leaders’ responses throughout today),, November 8, 2016
  4. Judy Dempsey, “Is America Still the Guardian of Transatlanticism?” Carnegie Europe, November  2, 2016
  5. George Friedman, “Trump on Foreign Policy: The candidate’s recent remarks opposed not just a specific doctrine, but the idea of doctrines altogether.” GPF, Geopolitical Futures, April 28, 2016 . (Note: author is founder of Stratfor)
  6. Mark Cancian, “Trump Proffers Pentagon Specifics: $60B More To Boost Troops, Ships,”, September 08, 2016 (There is a link herein to his one major foreign policy speech in Philadelphia. Article Trumps military build-up plans to contradict his apparent isolationist philosophy. Trump takes ideas from Hudson Institute and elsewhere.)
  7. Michael Krepon, “Nuclear Orthodoxy After Trump”  The Real Requirements of Deterrence, Foreign Policy, August 15, 2016

Note, I have spoken previously to media (for example: link here) about Trump’s bombastic claims about “energy independence” and his threats to ditch the recent COP21 global climate agreements. I’ll return to those issue again soon in much more detail here at Global|


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