President Trump spent a good part of this week focusing on foreign policy. He spent a couple of days at the UN, speaking to the General Assembly and chairing a meeting of the Security Council.
We were told at the start of the Trump administration that we were headed for a massive foreign policy disaster. I haven’t seen it yet. Neither has Savatore Babones who has a post up over at The National Interest titled Trump’s Foreign Policy Successes Show Principled Realism in Action. He notes that Trump has defied the resistance of Our Betters in the expert class and delivered significant results.
Yet Trump has overcome internal resistance and external pressure to deliver an as yet uninterrupted string of foreign-policy successes : North Korea’s “Rocket Man” Kim Jong-un hasn’t launched a rocket in ten months; America’s NATO allies are finally starting to deliver on pledges to increase defense spending toward the 2 percent of GDP target agreed in 2006 ; Mexico has seemingly come to terms on long-overdue NAFTA reforms; the United States has stayed out of the Arab world’s interminable wars in Syria, Libya and Yemen; and the U.S. embassy in Israel moved to Jerusalem in May without sparking the Third Intifada predicted by Trump’s opponents.
Perhaps just as important (from a U.S. perspective), America’s long-term enemies are nearly all on the run. The Russian economy is crumbling. The Venezuelan economy has crumbled. The Iranian economy, which boomed after the nuclear deal was signed in 2015, has come back down to earth since Trump took office, and stagnated since he pulled the United States out of the deal in May.
Trump’s success comes from his understanding of the true nature of America’s power. Yes, it’s true that we have have the strongest military force in the world, but the real power behind it comes from the infrastructure and the people and society supporting it. There’s much more to American power than armed force.
The secret to the Trump team’s success is its embrace of principled realism: in its simplest terms, the faith that America’s goals are just and American power should be exercised to support those goals. Since taking office a year and a half ago, Trump has forcefully applied American power—while avoiding his predecessors’ equation of power with military force. As a result, America is getting its way on the world stage, generally without putting American lives at risk to get it. That’s about as win-win as things come in international relations.
Read the whole thing.
Our Betters were wrong. Trump may not be doing everything right, but his track record in foreign policy is the best we’ve seen in decades.