Over the past few weeks, the hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts has been a little tough on academic realists and Donald Trump on matters of American foreign policy. I have argued that the former tend to whinge too much about their lack of influence on foreign policy, and the latter tends to whinge too much without any apparent foreign policy advisers.
Over the weekend, however, Bloomberg View’s Josh Rogin did some reporting about Trump’s foreign policy team, and it turns out that these two issues are now related.
Rogin reports that Trump has talked to a few foreign policy people (Harvard-educated historian Daniel Pipes, Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Danny Dayon, former Defense Intelligence Agency head Michael Flynn). In his interview with Trump policy adviser Sam Clovis, Rogin also reveals that Clovis speaks exactly like Trump (“There’s a lot more to [Trump's foreign policy] than what our opponents and the pundits think. We play them like a five-string banjo because at the end of the day, they are going to look stupid.”)
The big story, however, is that Trump and his advisers think of themselves as stone-cold realists:
Trump’s narrow definition of “national interest” does not include things like democracy promotion, humanitarian intervention, the responsibility to protect people from atrocities or the advocacy of human rights abroad. Trump believes that economic engagement will lead to political opening in the long run. He doesn’t think the U.S. government should spend blood or treasure on trying to change other countries’ systems.
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