His trade war with China keeps escalating, with mounting costs to the U.S. economy. Diplomatic overtures to Iran and North Korea have so far failed to yield the president’s desired outcome. Jared Kushner’s Middle East peace plan, two years in the making, is nowhere to be seen. And America’s retreat from Syria, where the president once boasted he had defeated ISIS, has allowed the terrorist group to regenerate, according to a brand new Pentagon inspector general’s report.
Trump’s critics see these data points as alarming signs that the president is out of his depth on international affairs, if not complicit in the breakdown of global order. And while his allies enthusiastically support his efforts to squeeze Iran, some are quietly nervous — if not openly scornful — of his policies elsewhere.
“He’s trying to pivot from being sort of a militarist to being a dealmaker and delivering on diplomacy. That’s his sort of political goal going into 2020,” said Thomas Wright, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “He’s made all of these decisions and choices that are sort of getting him into trouble and he’s having to cope with the decisions and consequences.”