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Trump Deserves a National Security Adviser Who Agrees with Him and Can Translate His 'America First' Vision into Concrete Action

September 10, 2019 in Economics

By Christopher A. Preble

Christopher A. Preble

For those who argued that Donald Trump’s foreign policy views were dramatically different from those of his predecessors, the skeptics always had a ready answer: John Bolton. Now that Trump has unceremoniously dismissed his hawkish national security adviser, that could pave the way for the change that Trump had promised and that the public anxiously wants.

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Over the course of his presidential campaign, Trump was rewarded for his willingness to challenge the policy elite. He even railed against the Iraq War, initiated by a Republican president, in a Republican debate in South Carolina — and won the primary there. Unlike nearly all of his rivals, Trump correctly sensed that Americans were disinclined to spend vast sums, and risk the lives of American troops, on regime-change wars and costly, open-ended nation-building projects abroad.

In a major foreign policy speech delivered as he was closing in on the GOP nomination, Trump explained that “foolishness and arrogance [had] led to one foreign-policy disaster after another.” And he pledged “to shake the rust off America’s foreign policy” and “invite new voices and new visions into the fold.”

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But, once elected, he did nothing of the sort. Instead, he populated his administration with people committed to maintaining the status quo, including H.R. McMaster as national security adviser, Jim Mattis as secretary of defense, and John Kelly as secretary of homeland security, later White House chief of staff.

To be sure, these establishment figures occasionally steered Trump away from bad — and perhaps even disastrous — decisions. McMaster, Mattis and Kelly, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, delayed, but ultimately couldn’t derail, Trump’s single-minded desire to leave the Iran nuclear deal. Bolton’s most enduring achievement, albeit a dubious one, may be in working with Tillerson’s replacement, Mike Pompeo, to set the United States on a possibly irrevocable path to war with Iran.

The next national security adviser will be judged by his or her ability to translate Trump’s “America First” vision into concrete action. That will involve countless decisions, starting with the appointment of like-minded …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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