With the “America First” emphasis in his truculent inaugural address, Donald Trump has signaled that a radical reorientation of American foreign policy may be in the offing. For more than 70 years, the United States has been the world’s leading champion of free trade, democracy, and international institutions, particularly in Europe and East Asia. But for how much longer?
“Although Abe’s quick reach out to Trump in the wake of an election has eased some of the anxiety about the future of the alliance under new U.S. leadership, the larger uncertainty about how the new president will shake up U.S. policy toward Asia continues to shape Japanese attitudes on the transition,” writes CFR Senior Fellow Sheila Smith.
The Trump team should no doubt develop their own strategy for securing the nation in cyberspace but, in doing so, they should build off of the many successes and lessons learned from Obama’s eight years in grappling with these issues, writes Rob Knake.
Argentine President Mauricio Macri and his team can take a bow for their first year in office. Despite Macri’s outsider status and his party’s limited influence in the Congress, he in short order took on the country’s biggest economic distortions—unifying the exchange rate, resolving the fight with international creditors, cutting energy subsidies, reestablishing credible statistics, and eliminating a whole host of tariffs, quotas, and export licenses.
The belief among Egyptian, Turkish, Israeli, Saudi, and Emirati officials that the Donald J. Trump administration will demonstrate better “American leadership” in the Middle East is misguided, argues CFR’s Steven A. Cook. The lack of a coherent foreign policy means that Middle Eastern leaders will more likely than not be disappointed.
The incoming Trump administration inherits a daunting global situation. But rushing to reverse longstanding U.S. policies could generate new challenges and make existing ones harder to resolve, writes CFR President Richard N. Haass.
Thousands of key policymakers — from State to the Department of Defense — still need to be appointed to new positions. But nothing’s happening. Days before Trump steps into office, he has failed to announce enough capable replacements for the 4,000 political appointments that any president must make.
If Mr. Trump’s slavish devotion to Putin persists in office, it will continue to raise questions about the exact nature of their relationship. If the president-elect wants to put such suspicions to rest, he should get as tough with the Kremlin as he vows to do with America’s other enemies.
Authors: Reuel Gerecht and Ray Takeyh Washington Post
Contrary to his image as a “pragmatist,” former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who died last week, brandished a moderate image that concealed the reality of his militancy, argues CFR’s Ray Takeyh with Reuel Gerecht. Instead, Rafsanjani was the most consequential architect of the theocracy’s machinery of repression and regional ambitions and a primary sponsor of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear aspirations.
Jay Winik commends President-elect Trump’s irrepressible spirit and boldness while simultaneously cautioning him to be mindful of the unique demands put upon the occupant of the Oval Office, as demonstrated through a collection of past presidencies.
Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson is by all accounts a shrewd, pragmatic, and successful dealmaker. In another administration, he might have made an excellent secretary of State. Serving a president with a strong moral grounding and certain fixed principles, he might have been successful in sanding off the rough edges and making the compromises necessary to get things done. But under Donald Trump, a man of few if any discernible principles beyond a desire for self-aggrandizement, he would be a dangerous choice because his role will be not just to implement policy but—more than most previous secretaries of State—to shape it.
When the Chinese Foreign Ministry expresses “serious concern” about things Donald Trump has said about Taiwan—and a party-controlled newspaper calls him “as ignorant as a child”—it’s clear that Beijing is alarmed. Yet after spending last week in China, I came away struck by the overall complacency of Chinese attitudes toward the president-elect, writes Stephen Sestanovich.
Election hacks and Russia-friendly nominees pose a historic choice of party or principle. The test for Republicans is how they will react given that Trump has publicly pondered the possibility of lifting all sanctions on Russia, has appointed as his national security adviser a retired general who had recently been seen dining with Putin and as his secretary of State an executive who had received an Order of Friendship from Putin.
Following weeks of tense political scandal, the South Korean National Assembly voted overwhelmingly by a margin of 234-56 on a motion to impeach President Park Geun-hye. Scott Snyder discusses where to go from here.
Writing in Politico, Philip Gordon argues that president-elect Trump's foreign policy may prove less deliberately radical than people think; it's hallmarks will instead be accidents, indiscipline, and incoherence.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2016 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass. Read and download »