The Peril of Trump’s Populist Foreign Policy

His style of deal-making prizes uncertainty and brinkmanship, without a plan for what comes next.

Mr. Trump’s foreign policy reflects his instinct for political realignment at home, based on celebrity populism.

Populist movements feed off grievances and impatience with traditional politics. Frustrations—whether generated by economic distress, social displacement, or cultural challenges—fuel skepticism about institutions and elites. Challengers (who want to become the new elite) attack traditional leaders as out of touch, incompetent and corrupt.

.. First, it professes to reflect the will of a scorned people.

.. Second, populism finds and blames enemies, domestic or foreign, who thwart the people’s will. Mr. Trump has mastered insulting such scapegoats.

.. Third, populism needs “the leader,” who can identify with and embody the will of the people. Like other populist leaders, Mr. Trump attacks the allegedly illegitimate institutions that come between him and the people. His solutions, like those of other populists, are simple. He contends that the establishment uses complexity to obfuscate and cover up misdeeds and mistakes. He claims he will use his deal-making know-how to get results without asking the public to bear costs.

.. Mr. Trump’s foreign policies serve his political purposes, not the nation’s interests

  • .. He says the U.S. needs to build a wall to keep Mexicans at bay—and Mexico will pay for it. He asserted he would
  • block Muslims from coming to America to harm us.
  • His protectionist trade policies are supposed to stop foreigners from creating deficits, stealing jobs, and enriching the corporate elite.
  • Mr. Trump also asserts that U.S. allies have been sponging off America. T
  • he U.S. military is supposed to hammer enemies and not bother with the cleanup—even if the result, for example in Syria, is an empowered axis of Iran, Shiite militias, Hezbollah and Bashar Assad’s regime.

.. The president’s emphasis on discontinuity—breaking things—demonstrates action while disparaging his predecessors.

.. His style of deal-making prizes uncertainty and brinkmanship, which risks escalation, without a plan for what comes next.

..  Other presidents led an alliance system that recognizes U.S. security is connected to mutual interests in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East. Past presidents believed that the U.S. economy would prosper in a world of expanding capitalism

..  Mr. Trump dismisses this U.S.-led international system as outdated, too costly and too restrictive of his case-by-case deal-making.


  • .. Trump disdains America’s intelligence agencies and is
  • dismantling the State Department. His foils at home are
  • the courts,
  • the press, a clumsy
  • Congress beholden to antiquated procedures, and even
  • his own Justice Department.

.. Mr. Trump’s recent trip to Asia reveals that foreigners have taken his measure. They play to his narcissism. He in turn basks in their attention, diminishes his own country by blaming past presidents, and preens with promises of great but unspecified things to come. 

.. The president’s need to project an image of personal power—for his domestic audience and his ego—makes him more comfortable with authoritarian leaders. Presidents Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Rodrigo Duterte have noticed, as has part of the Saudi royal family. 

.. Sixty percent say alliances with Europe and East Asia either are mutually beneficial or mostly benefit the U.S. Record numbers say international trade is good for consumers (78%), the economy (72%) and job creation (57%). Some 65% support providing illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, and only 37% characterize immigration as a critical threat. All these numbers have shifted against Mr. Trump’s positions since the election.

 .. Democratic leaders face a challenge as well. Their voters, especially younger ones, increasingly support trade

Will Virginia Teach Trump Fans a Lesson?

68% of voters under 45 voted Democratic, and Republicans lost nonwhite voters 80% to 20%.

.. Voters, more women than men, were literally walking in and saying ‘I’m here to vote against Trump.’ The name of the victim on the ballot didn’t matter.”

.. Trump in 2016 lost in the growing areas—suburban, diverse—and won big in the shrinking areas—rural, white,” the official observed. “The suburban educated women problem will grow in states that are getting bigger and more diverse. We have hitched our wagon to the shrinking team.”

.. “The female backlash about Trump is in part a response to the resurgence of male chest-thumping following Hillary’s demise and Trump’s victory. Trump has unleashed men to be more oblivious to real sexism at a time when women are feeling liberated by the demise of Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, etc. They can’t vote against Harvey or Bill, but they can vote against Trump and anyone remotely near him.”

.. Mr. Northam was “nonthreatening—a doctor, former military,” and “as long as Democrats sound moderate, they’ll do OK.”

.. Tuesday was also a verdict on Trump’s equivocations after Charlottesville: “Trump and Steve Bannon treated Charlottesville as a nonevent. Virginia voters thought otherwise.” The administration’s “marriage to the alt-right comes with a cost.”

.. Democrats are split between moderates and a rising progressive left, which has all the energy, enthusiasm and intellectual action. Mr. Trump united the Democrats in Virginia. That won’t last forever.

.. The threat for Democrats is that they’ll overplay their hand—that heady with their first big win since Barack Obama’s re-election, they’ll go crazy-left.

.. If they are clever they will see their strong space as anti-Trump, socially moderate and economically liberal.

.. Trump enthusiasts. They imagine the number and strength of his supporters as bigger than it is. They imagine his opponents as unappreciative sellouts: Trump has won and will continue to win, you just don’t get it. After Virginia, they must surely see trouble. Donald Trump has not built support in the middle, he’s alienated it.

.. The parties are each in an existential crisis. The Democrats, split between the Sanders/Warren progressive vision and the old Clinton vision, will fight more passionately among themselves as 2020 approaches. The Republicans are left knowing that day by day, Mr. Trump is crashing.

How Donald Trump Became President-Elect

it is still possible that Clinton will wind up the winner of the popular vote.

.. According to some estimates, Democrats need a two-point victory, or thereabouts, to reach two hundred and seventy votes in the Electoral College.

.. The exit poll indicated that sixty-five per cent of Latinos supported Clinton, while twenty-nine per cent voted for Trump.

In 2012, Obama got seventy-one per cent of the Latino vote, and Romney got twenty-seven per cent.

.. Obama secured sixty per cent of the vote from people between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine. On Tuesday, Clinton got fifty-four per cent of this group. In a tight election, which this one was, such changes can make all the difference.

.. women voted for Clinton by a margin of twelve percentage points, fifty-four per cent to forty-two per cent. Men voted for Trump by the same twelve-point margin, fifty-three per cent to forty-one per cent. The exit polls don’t explain this split—but sexism surely played some role.

.. Finally, and this shouldn’t be ignored either, the relatively well-to-do went for Trump. According to the exit-poll figures, people who earn less than fifty thousand dollars a year—who make up a bit more than a third of the population—voted for Clinton over Trump by a margin of about eleven points, fifty-two per cent to forty-one per cent. The roughly two-thirds of the population who earn more than fifty thousand dollars a year voted for Trump.

.. The lowest-paid voters tend to be younger people and minorities, and they went for Clinton. In that sense, she won the working-class vote.

.. Just thirty-seven per cent of respondents to the exit poll said that Trump was qualified to be President; sixty-one per cent said that he was unqualified. In addition, only thirty-four per cent of the respondents said that he had the right personality and temperament to be President, and seventy per cent said they were bothered by his offensive remarks about women. According to these metrics, at least, Clinton’s numbers were much better. Fifty-three per cent of respondents said that she was qualified to be President, and fifty-six per cent said that she had the right personality and temperament for the job.