Trump Foreign Policy Doctrine
(Flickr/The White House) Chancellor Merkel, President Trump, and PM May

Is Trump foreign policy ready to be born and named as a doctrine?

In the last nine months, President Donald Trump has used his presidential power to make various foreign policy moves.  On Friday and Thursday alone, we saw actions on Iran and UNESCO.

Over time, many US Presidents evolve foreign policy doctrines.  Depending on various factors, these doctrines may be specific or general.

Apart from being named after presidents, the doctrines can often be summarized in a few words. For example, the Obama doctrine was “don’t do stupid stuff.”

Sadly, Trump foreign policy has deviated from that doctrine.  We can see this in both personnel and policy.

In this context, what are some simple names for the Trump foreign policy doctrine?

Trump Foreign Policy: Withdrawal Doctrine

Richard Haas is a well-respected heavyweight in the foreign policy arena. With experience in academia and government, Haas is now president of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations.

On Thursday, Haas tweeted about the Trump foreign policy theme being the “Withdrawal Doctrine.” He alluded to the leaving, or threats to leave, various organizations and agreements.

Under Trump, the US has left UNESCO, the TPP, and the Paris accord. There are now threats to the Iran deal, NAFTA, and KORUS (US and South Korea free trade agreement).

Withdrawal will mean we are unable to get the fruits of existing engagement with the world.

Trump Foreign Policy: Coitus Interruptus Doctrine

Another name for the withdrawal doctrine could be the coitus interruptus doctrine.

The US government, other governments, and the international community are often in bed together. Sometimes it is by force, but often it is consensual.

With consensual agreements, foreign policy interactions can lead to valuable fruits.  These could be peace, economic development, and human rights progress.

By Trump pulling the US out from the various agreements and international organizations, the fruits of international engagement are going down the drain.

For example, staying in the Iran deal could have various fruits for the US, the world, and Iran. The US and Europe could focus on the North Korea nuclear threat.  Iran’s moderates could deal with their struggling economy.

Instead, Trump’s foreign policy doctrine appeals to two of his favored tactics. One is to blame the other side. The other is to bluster threats.

Trump Foreign Policy: Blame-and-Bluster Doctrine

On Friday, Trump’s Iran deal announcement also exemplified his blame-and-bluster foreign policy doctrine.

After blaming Iran for things not covered by the Iran deal, he passed the buck to Congress.  Should the divided and busy Congress not come up with something satisfactory to him, he can blame Congress.

Further, the President announced his intention to “address the full range of Iran’s destructive actions.” The Trump strategy included sanctions and work with allies to counter Iran’s regional actions and missile development.

For all Trump’s bluster against Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, he did not designate them as a foreign terrorist organization. Instead, he imposed sanctions on them.

Understandably, Iran reacted negatively to Trump’s bluster. But, so did close US allies like France and the UK. The Trump administration will have a hard time coming up with a new Iran deal.

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