In terms of foreign policy how do you see the debate in Donald Trump’s transition team and possible appointments of people like Gen. Mike Flynn for National Security Advisor or Rep. Mike Pompeo for CIA chief? Do you see any hints which may tell us something about possible trends in future foreign policy of President Trump? Read few comments.
Jack Goldstone, Professor of Public Policy, George Mason University
Trump is appointing people who he feels are loyal and share his views. They are often outspoken and may have questionable histories, but that does not matter to Trump.
General Flynn, the new national security advisor, was one of the first American military leaders to warn of the extent of the threat posed by the Islamic State when others were still focused on Al-Qaeda. He has made some intemperate and undesirable statements about Islam, but generally tries to distinguish between the dangerous extremists of Islamist terror organizations and the moderate Muslims who are needed to combat the extremist threat. However, he was fired from his job leading the Defense Intelligence Agency. He claims it was over policy disagreements, while others say it was because of problems in his management of the Agency. Either way, a national security advisor usually has to function with a low profile and have the confidence of the military establishment; this seems not to be likely for General Flynn.
Jeff Sessions, who is the pick to be attorney general, is an experienced prosecutor and Senator. However, he was denied appointment to a federal judgeship by the U.S. Senate in the Reagan era because of comments he had made that were deemed to be racist. While that is long past, it may raise questions if he is put in charge of the Justice Department, which has control over enforcement of Federal laws on equal opportunity and voting rights – especially given recent controversies over actions by some states to restrict voting access in the most recent election.
Mike Pompeo, the choice to lead the CIA, is a Republican Congressman best known for attacking Hilary Clinton’s role in the Benghazi incident in Libya, and for opposing the Iran nuclear deal.
In sum, in these choices Trump is making no effort choose moderate individuals who would be placed to build bridges to other groups in the policy community. Rather, his choices look very much like Trump himself in his political views, and his disregard for convention and political correctness. So far with Trump, what you see in the candidate is what you will get in the administration.
Overall, this suggest a foreign policy that will be accommodating toward Russia, not focused on human rights or support for democratic movements overseas, but very aggressive in combatting what are seen as direct threats to the United States, mainly the Islamist terrorists of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and other anti-Western Islamist groups.
James Goldgeier, Dean, School of International Service, American University
So far the appointments confirm what we saw in the campaign: a president-elect who takes a very different approach to foreign policy than recent Republican presidents. It is more nationalist, more isolationist, less inclusive and less hopeful.
John Harper, Professor of American Foreign Policy, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University
It’s too early to tell, really, and perhaps Trump will turn out tobe a pragmatic nationalist like Nixon–for example with respect to Russian and/or China. But from the looks of it so far, his foreign policy is going to be aggressive and hawkish, especially as far as Islamic terrorism is concerned.