Opinion: Trump’s shifting foreign policy

Jacob Tabler is a junior political science major and a member of the Kent State College Republicans. Contact him at [email protected].

Jacob Tabler

Recently, President Trump took several military actions to combat rising threats around the world, establishing a more involved stance in his foreign policy since becoming president.

Before taking the Oval Office, Donald Trump adopted what he called an “America-first” stance.

Part of this stance was a more isolationist policy, but now his stance is starting to change. There are several questions that must be answered: What is happening, how are his supporters reacting and what does this mean for his administration’s approach to foreign policy?

President Trump has taken several important military actions over the last month.

First, in response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons on his own people, Trump approved the firing of nearly 60 missiles directed at Syrian military air bases. This represents a retaliation to a red line former President Obama laid out during his administration.

The president also approved deployment of the most powerful non-nuclear bomb in the United States arsenal; the MOAB was fired on an ISIS facility, resulting in 36 ISIS casualties.

Though Trump did not directly order the strike, his administration made it clear an increase in military action to handle a threat is important.

Finally, Trump approved the moving of an aircraft carrier group and a missile defense system to the Korean Peninsula. The increased pressure on North Korea is in response to their continued testing of nuclear weapons.

Trump supporters are divided in how they view the issue. A prominent supporter of Trump’s isolationist policy, Ann Coulter, criticized the president for his actions. She reasoned that President Trump should focus on crafting domestic policy that will fulfill his campaign promises. His more conservative supporters that are praising the action insist military action must be part of a coherent plan.

There are several possible reasons for Trump’s change. It could be that he is listening to his advisers, such as White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus and National Security Adviser Herbert McMaster and taking on a more ad hoc, or case-by-case, stance on foreign policy.

This could be a good thing if he is deferring to his advisers and listening to their expertise.

Another possibility is that Trump is not really shifting, but reacting to things he sees in the news.

If this is the case, a problem in terms of a lack of distinctive principles arises. Typically, a coherent and consistent set of principles will help guide policy when he receives new evidence.

If he does not have those principles, then his entire worldview could shift when he receives new evidence, leading to reactionary military action.

Realistically, President Trump is operating on reactions, but he uses his advisers to tell him how to execute a response. A troubling notion is that Trump may be reacting to applause from his supporters and favors whatever policy will get him the most praise.

Though this could be dangerous to react to events without a coherent worldview, trusting advisers are critical.

So far, these military actions under the Trump administration have been good, but with the good decisions he has made, it is important to recognize that there must be a guiding principle in place to ensure that he continues to do good things.

Jacob Tabler is a columnist, contact him at [email protected].