At the heart of President Trump’s foreign policy team lies a glaring contradiction. On the one hand, it is composed of men of experience, judgment and traditionalism. Meaning, they are all very much within the parameters of mainstream American internationalism as practiced since 1945. Practically every member of the team — the heads of State, Homeland Security, the CIA, and most especially Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster — could fit in a Cabinet put together by, say, Hillary Clinton.
The commander in chief, on the other hand, is quite the opposite — inexperienced, untraditional, unbounded. His pronouncements on everything from the one-China policy to the two-state (Arab-Israeli) solution, from NATO obsolescence to the ravages of free trade, continue to confound and, as we say today, disrupt.
The obvious question is: Can this arrangement possibly work? The answer thus far, surprisingly, is: perhaps.