Forget America First or the new nationalism or any of the other isms that have been offered as explanations for Donald Trump’s emerging foreign policy.
Want to really understand Trump’s philosophy of international relations?
Just listen to Sebastian Gorka, the Breitbart propagandist and Hungarian ultranationalist turned White House national security aide. He’s been saying it loud and clear for a couple months now whenever he’s asked about Trump’s foreign policy and how the new president will shake things up globally: “The alpha males are back.”
“Our foreign policy has been a disaster,” Gorka told Fox’s Sean Hannity before the inauguration. “We’ve neglected and abandoned our allies. We’ve emboldened our enemies. The message I have—it’s a very simple one. It’s a bumper sticker, Sean: The era of the Pajama Boy is over January 20th, and the alpha males are back.”
He’s repeated the phrase several times since, and it strikes me as perhaps unintentionally helpful in trying to sort through Trump’s largely unformed and at times outright contradictory foreign policy views.
It can be hard to parse the president otherwise. Is Trump really an anti-free trader who wants to end globalization—or an international businessman-turned-politician who simply wants a “better deal”? Does he seek more aggressive military measures and a tougher approach in the Middle East—or to give up and go home altogether? Will he get the United States into new confrontations with China, Iran, North Korea and others? Or is he actually a peacemaker in waiting, one who can finally work with the wily Russians and get the grand bargain done between the Israelis and the Palestinians that eluded all his predecessors?
At different times, Trump has suggested all of the above—never mind that they are not necessarily compatible. We here in Washington continue to try to understand Trump on our terms; we look for intellectual frameworks and policy architectures and historical worldviews. But Trump has made clear his disdain for American foreign policy as it has been practiced over the past few administrations of Republicans as well as Democrats; his version of national security has much less to do with ideology, and much more to do with what he would call losing rather than winning. It’s about approach, mind-set—and who’s doing it—much more than about what’s being done.
Read more at Politico.