The Trump doctrine - retrench and refocus

The overarching goal is to maintain US primacy on a more manageable footing, while focusing more energy and effort on containing the power and influence of China

Two years into his presidency, Mr Donald Trump has no clear legislative strategy, no policy agenda, no plan for remedying his persistent unpopularity and a path to re-election sufficiently bleak that he is trying to bait a political naif, Starbucks billionaire Howard Schultz, into running as a third-party spoiler. Also, he might be impeached.

Yet, at the same time, amid all the domestic chaos and incompetence and political malpractice, this administration continues to act in foreign policy - not tweet obnoxiously, not rage behind the scenes, but act - as if it's following a serious grand strategy, one sufficiently coherent and plausible and forward-looking that future presidents might reasonably imitate it.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2019, with the headline 'The Trump doctrine - retrench and refocus'. Print Edition | Subscribe