Magazine August 10, 2020, Issue

Trump’s Reactive Engagement

President Donald Trump visits Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., July 11, 2020. (Tasos Katopodis/Reuters)
Examining the president’s foreign policy

The United States and indeed the Western world face four quite different challenges on the horizon: China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea. All these threats were analyzed at length in the 68-page U.S. National Security Strategy assessment of December 2017, written by then–national-security adviser H. R. McMaster and his staff.

The encompassing theme of that blueprint was dubbed “strategic realism.” In popular parlance it may have been better known as a new “Jacksonianism” — defined loosely as something like the self-composed epitaph of the Roman strongman Sulla found in Plutarch’s life of the general (“No friend had ever surpassed him in

This article appears as “Reactive Engagement” in the August 10, 2020, print edition of National Review.

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