Many aspects of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition have been described as disorganized (at best), but his administration’s approach to foreign policy appears particularly rudderless, raising concerns among domestic experts and international allies alike.
Foreign Policy reported Wednesday:
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT
Indeed, also at Foreign Policy, Council of Foreign Relations national security studies fellow Max Boot noted: “Not even deputy secretaries have yet been appointed at the State or Defense departments, much less the crucial undersecretaries and assistant secretaries who are responsible for fleshing out the broad parameters of the administration’s foreign policy. These are the obscure but important officials who do the real work of governing, teeing up the decisions that will be decided by the ‘principals’ at [National Security Council or NSC] meetings and then translating policy guidance (which in this president’s case is likely to be quite broad) into specific actions.”
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported Wednesday that while “the Obama administration has written 275 briefing papers for the incoming Trump administration”—many of them touching on key foreign policy issues and challenges—it is unclear if anyone on the Trump team has read them.
According to the Times:
Politico reported this week that in fact, “most of the NSC’s key policy jobs are also open. They include senior directors handling such regions and issues as the Middle East, Russia, Afghanistan, economic sanctions, and nuclear proliferation.”
What is active, however, is Trump’s “shadow national security council,” as the Washington Post revealed Thursday. That so-called “national security kitchen cabinet,” which the Post says is “shaping his policies and setting itself up as the center of power for all matters of international significance,” includes far-right strategist Steve Bannon, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.
According to the Post, each of these men “has emerged as influential on foreign policy in unique ways,” with Bannon focused on the U.S. relationship with Asia, building up the U.S. military, and spreading far-right populism around the world; Kushner acting as “a main interlocutor for foreign governments and…interacting with leading representatives from countries including Israel, Germany, and Britain;” and Priebus managing political considerations such as how decisions will be perceived by U.S. lawmakers, the media, or foreign officials.
Not everyone is reassured by this arrangement:
Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.