Contributor Perspectives

Lessons From the Past for Trump's Transactional Foreign Policy

Ian Morris
Board of Contributors
Nov 13, 2019 | 16:40 GMT
An illustration of an aged world map.
(ILOLAB/Shutterstock)

One of the Trump administration's hallmarks has been its transactional approach to foreign policy. Writing in Foreign Policy magazine shortly before the 2016 presidential election, the strategist Rosa Brooks suggested that "To Trump, U.S. alliances, like potential business partners in a real-estate transaction, should always be asked: 'What have you done for me lately?'" Since entering office, President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to walk away from alliances that no longer seem to be paying dividends, regardless of old friendships or cultural affinities. The U-turn in American foreign policy seems to have baffled many observers. However, the Trump administration is anything but the first to pursue a transactional foreign policy. It might be worth taking a look at the experience of the most important comparison case, 18th century Britain....

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