Few observers of U.S. foreign policy have the skills and experience of Daalder and Lindsay. In their new book, they lucidly, if not very originally, argue that U.S. President Donald Trump’s leadership has weakened the United States’ alliances, undermined the institutions on which much of U.S. security depends, and put American companies and exporters at a disadvantage. On the question of why so many voters rejected the traditional foreign policy approach in 2016, Daalder and Lindsay have less to say. Their book refers to U.S. over-extension in the Clinton and Bush administrations and notes that the Obama-era attempt to offer a more limited form of American leadership proved less satisfying than many hoped, but such concerns occupy a marginal place in the narrative. One hopes their next book will do more. The most urgent task facing students of contemporary U.S. foreign policy is less to deconstruct Trump’s approach than to craft long-term strategies that will be politically sustainable at home and effective abroad.
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