America’s allies should be forgiven if they are confused about where American foreign policy is headed. Who isn’t, given the go-it-alone recklessness of Donald Trump’s presidency? Over the past few years, Trump has sowed strategic chaos, and his foreign policy, if one can call it that, brought new meaning to the word incoherence. President-elect Joe Biden will be better almost by default. But has Trump changed America so much that the world cannot count on it ever being normal again?
Not only did Trump pursue a love affair with North Korea’s nuclear-armed dictator and remain smitten with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he also championed Brexit and badmouthed America’s European allies, when he was not undermining them outright.
At the annual Munich Security Conference in 2020, French President Emmanuel Macron and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier both acknowledged that Trump has fundamentally damaged the transatlantic alliance. Their message was clear: If Trump had won a second term, the historic partnership that has long constituted the geopolitical “West” would never be the same. Prudent world leaders were doubtless preparing for even more instability and uncertainty had Trump been re-elected.