I hope so.
But what’s Trump’s long game? His foreign policy fits under the umbrella of his “America First” slogan, according to the White House and his many speeches, “putting the interests and security of the American people first.”
But, like his freewheeling presidential campaign, he is not easily categorized as a traditional Republican or even a traditional conservative, since there are different versions of conservative foreign policy. His approach of getting involved but not too involved in overseas conflicts reopens old debates between the Republican Party’s internationalist and isolationist wings that raged between World War I and the early Cold War.
Unbound by a firm ideology, he is free to be unpredictable.
His provocative push for new tariffs — with their risk of trade wars — is only the beginning of his developing vision. Yet, as we have seen, he likes to leave room to shift gears and change his mind, whether he admits to it in public or not. North Korea, China’s currency manipulation, Syrian civil war intervention and DACA are a few examples.
The result, whether by accident or design, is what I call Trump’s new world order. Old allies, like G-7, have become his diplomatic sparring partners and, if he succeeds, old adversaries like Russia and North Korea become new pals.
Some events, like the breakthrough with North Korea that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo secretly began as CIA director, were secretly developed for months. Trump’s decision to make his first face-to-face meeting with interpreters in the room but no staff was similar to President Ronald Reagan’s meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at a lake house in Geneva in 1985. It also fits Trump’s style to meet for informal talks one-on-one before turning the project over to the professional diplomats to iron out the details, apparently relieving him from the chore of having to do more homework.
Such face-to-face deal making suits a man who spent most of his career as a real estate developer, reality TV star and self-promotional wizard. It also may help to explain why he sounded like he was celebrating a meeting with Kim that gave away much more — a pledge to end “provocative” military exercises with South Korea, for example — than the United States gained.
This meeting with Kim was only the beginning of the negotiations, Team Trump’s spokespeople point out. Talks will continue while he moves to other matters, perhaps with visions of a Nobel Prize still dancing in his head. I wish him luck for the sake of world peace, but he still has a long way to go before we can see whether his new order, now under construction, is any better than the old one.
Writes for Tribune Content Agency.