The paradox of America First

Donald Trump's nationalism makes him amazingly easy to provoke into conflict

New: Gift this subscriber-only story to your friends and family

Mr Donald Trump is a deceptively conventional US president of the 21st century. Elected to unpick his nation's entanglements in the Middle East, he has served to deepen and extend them. What most separates him from his immediate predecessors is his lack of an alibi.

Former president George W. Bush had terrorist atrocities to avenge, even if he avenged them with a fiasco or two. As for Mr Barack Obama, the Arab Spring dawned and then darkened over the course of his tenure. It required an answer.

Already a subscriber? 

Read the full story and more at $9.90/month

Get exclusive reports and insights with more than 500 subscriber-only articles every month

Unlock these benefits

  • All subscriber-only content on ST app and

  • Easy access any time via ST app on 1 mobile device

  • E-paper with 2-week archive so you won't miss out on content that matters to you

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2020, with the headline The paradox of America First. Subscribe