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How Trump’s Foreign Policy Team is Mastering Complex Challenges in Difficult Times

Amid criticism from the left, the Trump team is rising to the occasion on numerous national security and foreign policy issues.

By Ray Takeyh, Washington Examiner:


The Trump administration came into power facing vexing foreign policy challenges ranging from a decaying global order to transnational terrorism. These problems are compounded by the fact that Americans are weary after decades of war in distant corners of the Middle East. To succeed, the administration has to balance competing imperatives: reaffirming alliances, engaging in transactional bargains with other great powers, and relentlessly pushing back on adversaries. Despite all the sound and fury, the Trump team is already demonstrating an ability to master these complex challenges in difficult times.

The Democratic Party resistance is already crying foul that the recent strike on Syria was not instantaneously followed up by a comprehensive strategy to resolve the civil war. There is something unusual about this critique from those who stood by while chemical munitions were repeatedly used under the Obama administration.

The missile attack on Syria has already accomplished one important objective, namely that chemical weapons will not be used again on the Syrian battlefields. Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad now knows what his most consequential patrons, Iran and Russia, have told him that such usage could invite further American action. A line of deterrence had been established and an important international norm reclaimed. The Syrian civil war continues, and the administrations needs to craft an international alliance against Assad and work to change the balance of power on the ground, but its first step was an important lesson in the utility of limited use of force.

In some cases, the administration will need to craft bargains with other powers to achieve its immediate security objectives.

The North Korean regime’s cruelty and penchant toward atomic weapons is a challenge that has eluded all administrations for more than two decades. Along the way we have seen agreements destined to be violated and variety of talks in a variety of forums. The received wisdom suggests that China is the key to mitigating this issue given its economic ties to the hermetic kingdom.

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