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Mon Oct 26, 2020, 07:36 PM

Opinions Foreign policy is now partisan policy

The phrase “foreign policy stops at the water’s edge” is one of those bromides that pundits and politicians occasionally trot out with the full recognition that it was never really thus. Indeed, by some metrics, foreign policy has been polarized for at least a generation.

What would be more accurate to say, however, is that while the parties can and should disagree about foreign policy, they never acted as though international relations was the province of partisanship. Before 2016, an awful lot of foreign policy — let’s say about two-thirds — fell into the “we are basically on the same page” basket. Maybe a fifth fell into the “reasonable people can disagree” basket, in which there were legitimate disagreements between the parties about the best means to achieve desired ends. The remainder fell into the partisanship category.

The Trump administration has altered this mix dramatically, and is laying the groundwork for more changes to come.

We already know from the impeachment inquiry that Trump believes American foreign policy is his own private fiefdom from which he can extract political favors. His former national security adviser John Bolton has confirmed this. He recently told the Guardian about Trump’s foreign policy decision-making: “Decisions are made not on the basis of the pros and cons of the policies being debated but on what the domestic political blowback could be. Every president takes politics into account but with Trump it’s qualitatively different. It’s not just a factor. It’s the factor.”


Trump is transactional. instead of the American people he represents himself.

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