Non-standard political methods of Donald Trump threaten the big US strategy, a set of conceptual provisions on the effective use by the state of the resources and means at its disposal to achieve goals in the military and foreign policy spheres, famous American political scientists Daniel Dresner (Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy), Ronald Krebs ( University of Minnesota) and Randall Channel (Ohio State University).
However, some experts do not agree with this, pointing out that one politician, even as bright and extraordinary as the current head of the White House, is not able to break down the postulates that developed during the 20th century in four years, a professor at the Naval College writes in The National Interest James Holmes
President Trump’s chaotic style and unpredictability have repeatedly blown up and changed America’s established foreign policy and strategy. According to three scholars, his “disruptions for the first time in decades forced foreign policy analysts to question the key principles” of a big strategy.
Trump’s political approach is reminiscent of the tactics of detective Sam Spade, the protagonist of Dashil Hammett’s novel The Maltese Falcon. In order to identify the criminal, Spade arranged unexpected and sometimes ambiguous provocations against suspects. Like the detective of Hammett’s novel, Trump often does wild things and makes shocking statements (perhaps unconsciously).
The United States should not abandon its basic principles, although it is useful to review them from time to time. Otherwise, the postulates ossify and turn into dogma. And dogmas, as a rule, slow down development and the ability to adapt to new conditions in a rapidly changing world.
The Trump administration, differently and not always consistently, like its predecessors, adheres to the provisions of a large strategy. Thus, the president with great enthusiasm destroyed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, signed during the reign of Barack Obama, an international agreement designed to reduce trade barriers between the countries of the Pacific region.
Most recently, Trump promised after the end of the coronavirus pandemic to eliminate the dependence of the US economy on China: return home American business and transfer the supply chain from the Middle Kingdom to countries that “will not hold on to vital goods during their shortage in America.” So, Apple has already announced its intention to transfer significant volumes of iPhone production to India. If other American companies decide to produce their goods in the subcontinent, this will lead to a reorientation of the US strategy towards the Indian Ocean.
It is also worth noting that if Washington adheres to a large access strategy, it will be further confronted with communist China and its large strategy for regulating and denying US access to the western Pacific. Beijing is actively using economic incentives and coercion to draw Eurasian countries into its orbit and reduce America’s influence on them. All this will inevitably lead to a change in American big strategy.
Without abandoning the principles of big strategy that have developed in the past, the Trump era is an arena where competition is unfolding between American big strategy and the new big strategies of China, Russia and other countries.
Dresner, Krebs and Schweller are right in calling on top management to pass strategic decision-making to many entities, initiate competition of ideas and stimulate innovation. This recommendation is important whether the United States has gone beyond a large strategy or not.
Betting on lonely geniuses is a bad bet. As the Florentine philosopher and statesman Niccolo Machiavelli wrote, “every person has his own way.” Strategic leaders usually succeed only as long as the time and environment remain favorable to their methods. When times change, and they continue to do what has worked in the past, they will soon find that it no longer works.