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Trump administration takes foreign policy in a strange direction

Updated
Donald Trump promised Americans he’d take U.S. foreign policy in a radical new direction, and there are early signs that he’s already following through on that commitment. In terms of the nation’s interests, however, that may not be a good thing.

In recent weeks, for example, the Republican president has needlessly alienated U.S. allies such as Australia and Mexico. Trump has antagonized China. He received a lecture on the Geneva Conventions from Germany. He’s been the subject of international protests about his infamous Muslim ban. He’s put Iran “on notice,” without explaining what in the world that means. He unveiled his long-awaited plan to combat ISIS, which largely amounted to ordering military leaders to come up with a plan for him.

When it comes to international affairs, it’s hard to think of any American president having a worse start. Abroad, Trump is celebrated in Moscow, but nowhere else.

The Associated Press reported over the weekend that the new president is causing widespread confusion, not only abroad, but even in his own administration. Last week, National Security Council staff participated in a town-hall meeting with their new leadership, and when asked what the “America First” mantra meant in practical terms, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn reportedly “reiterated Trump’s campaign assurances that he could put U.S. interests ahead of those of other countries.”

How clarifying.

But then the AP piece went in an unexpected direction:
Some early moves by Trump officials have given hints about their priorities – and raised concerns within the administration. […]

According to one U.S. official, national security aides have sought information about Polish incursions in Belarus, an eyebrow-raising request because little evidence of such activities appears to exist.
There’s quite a bit about the new administration that worries me, but I’ll confess it’s stuff like this that causes me the most unease.

For years, Trump has demonstrated an affinity for bizarre conspiracy theories and a capacity to believe transparent nonsense for no particular reason. Michael Flynn, Trump’s principal source for information related to national security, is every bit as odd in his embrace of baseless, oftentimes ridiculous, ideas.

And with that in mind, when the AP reports that national security aides in the administration have sought information “about Polish incursions in Belarus,” despite the fact that there’s no reason to believe there have been Polish incursions in Belarus, it gives one pause.

The Associated Press reporter who wrote the piece added an extra word on Twitter when describing the developments, noting that “senior” aides have requested information on incursions that don’t appear to exist. In other words, we’re talking about officials at or near the top of the bureaucratic ladder.


Donald Trump, Foreign Policy and Poland

Trump administration takes foreign policy in a strange direction

Updated