Will Trumpism Change Republican Foreign Policy Permanently?

August 28, 2020

Last week, more than 70 Republican foreign-policy officials, including two from the Trump administration, signed a letter endorsing Joe Biden for president. Dozens more Republican foreign-policy experts signed earlier letters condemning Donald Trump. Many of these officials hope that, if Trump loses, as current polls suggest, Republican foreign policy will revert to where it was before he was elected. That seems unlikely. As the Republican National Convention has vividly illustrated, the GOP has morphed into the Party of Trump, and Republican foreign policy will likely have to reckon with Trumpism for years to come.

Eric Edelman, who served as an undersecretary of defense in the George W. Bush administration and who signed the letter endorsing Biden, told me that if Trump is reelected, Trumpism will be impossible to dislodge. If Trump loses, the country’s foreign policy will be more open to debate, but the chances of a restoration are still low. “The traditional Republican internationalists will hope for a Dallas-style twist, with Bobby showing up in the shower after a bad dream,” Edelman said, referencing the 1980s show that revealed that a whole season of plot had been a dream. “But it will honestly be very hard to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. The 2024 hopefuls will likely say the message was right, but the messenger was flawed.”

The Atlantic

Dr. A. Wess Mitchell is co-founder and principal at The Marathon Initiative, a policy initiative focused on developing strategies to prepare the United States for an era of sustained great power competition.