The key question in the coming months is whether a more unfettered Trump will, to borrow Roosevelt’s phrasing, be “prepared to back up his words … with deeds.”
“One of the big themes of [Trump’s] foreign policy through the first year was that the policies were less radical than the rhetoric and less radical than the president, and one of the big reasons for that was the president was consistently outnumbered by advisers who in many cases fundamentally disagreed with his approach to foreign affairs,” said Hal Brands, an expert on U.S. grand strategy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. But Trump has now “settled into the job” and appears to be “tired of being told ‘no’ by his advisers,” which makes it more likely that on certain issues “the policy will catch up with the rhetoric” in year two—particularly as his campaign promises come under scrutiny ahead of the 2018 congressional elections.
Where that leads him—and the rest of America—is anyone’s guess, but his first year in office at least shows where it won’t. Trump is not the isolationist that many of his critics claim.