The risks of the Trump administration hollowing out American leadership

The idea of America has been at the heart of our success in the world for 70 years. For all our imperfections, we have embodied political and economic openness, respect for human dignity and a sense of possibility. The power of our example has mattered more than the power of our preaching, and enlightened self-interest has driven our strategy.

.. Through policy incoherence and not-so-benign neglect, the Trump team risks hollowing out the ideas, initiative and institutions on which U.S. leadership and international order rest.

.. A second crucial asset has been American initiative — our willingness and ability to mobilize others to deal with shared problems.

.. A third ingredient of American leadership is the institutions that sustain it. Trump’s first budget guts institutions responsible for translating our ideas and initiative into action. By relying so heavily on hard power, Trump’s budget reinforces a pattern over much of the difficult post-9/11 period in which we have often inverted the roles of force and diplomacy, underselling the virtue of diplomacy backed up by the threat of force, while relying more on lethal force as our tool of first resort, with diplomacy an under-resourced follow-up, untethered to strategy.

.. At a moment when the international order is under severe strain, power is fragmenting and great-power rivalry has returned, the values and purpose at the core of the American idea matter more than ever.

.. The State Department has too many layers and ought to be streamlined. But cuts of nearly 30 percent are not motivated by an interest in sensible change; they reflect a dismissiveness of the role of nonmilitary instrument

.. Likewise, draconian reductions in assistance programs are penny wise and pound foolish. Rather than helping key fragile states avoid the kinds of failures and conflicts that often drag in the U.S. military, at far greater cost,