On Monday Donald Trump plans to lay out a broad framework for combating global Islamic terrorism. Trump wants put an end to nation building and instead bring “foreign policy realism” to the fore. Ending the American practice of nation building sounds great, as it doesn’t work. But Donald Trump is not a “foreign policy realist”. Not in any way. Despite arguments to the contrary.
This could be a good thing; arguments abound that Realism is solely an academic theory with questionable assumptions and empirical evidence which has never truly caught on in policy circles. In other words, the tenets of Realism do not lend themselves to practical application. Except it’s Trump’s internal logical inconsistency that ruins Trump’s realist arguments, not realist assumptions.
A foreign policy realist would never withdraw from NATO or Asia, despite calls of free-riding. Or see the logic in alienating foreign world leaders. Or withdraw from trade agreements. Not one but two open letters have been released arguing the danger to the United States of a Trump presidency. Letters signed by prominent GOP national security officials and academics.
Maybe it doesn’t matter if Trump is a foreign policy realist. But it does matter if his “realist” plan will make America less secure.