Here are six key takeaways from this assessment of an uninformed amateur blundering his way through the world.
Trump More At Home With Our Adversaries, Than Friends.
Nearly a year into his presidency, Mr. Trump remains an erratic, idiosyncratic leader on the global stage, an insurgent who attacks allies the United States has nurtured since World War II and who can seem more at home with America’s adversaries. His Twitter posts, delivered without warning or consultation, often make a mockery of his administration’s policies and subvert the messages his emissaries are trying to deliver abroad.
Trump Rejects Post World War II Framework
Above all, Mr. Trump has transformed the world’s view of the United States from a reliable anchor of the liberal, rules-based international order into something more inward-looking and unpredictable. That is a seminal change from the role the country has played for 70 years, under presidents from both parties, and it has lasting implications for how other countries chart their futures. . . .
His advisers point to a revealing meeting at the Pentagon on July 20, when Mr. Mattis, Mr. Tillerson and Mr. Cohn walked the president through the country’s trade and security obligations around the world.
The group convened in the secure conference room of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a storied inner sanctum known as the tank. Mr. Mattis led off the session by declaring that “the greatest thing the ‘greatest generation’ left us was the rules-based postwar international order,” according to a person who was in the room.
After listening for about 50 minutes, this person said, Mr. Trump had heard enough. He began peppering Mr. Mattis and Mr. Tillerson with questions about who pays for NATO and the terms of the free trade agreements with South Korea and other countries. The postwar international order, the president of the United States declared, is “not working at all.”
Trump Was Uninformed on Ukraine and Blamed Merkel For Being Condescending
In one of their first phone calls, the chancellor explained to the president why Ukraine was a vital part of the trans-Atlantic relationship. Mr. Trump, officials recalled, had little idea of Ukraine’s importance, its history of being bullied by Russia or what the United States and its allies had done to try to push back Mr. Putin. . . . German officials were alarmed by Mr. Trump’s lack of knowledge, but they got even more rattled when White House aides called to complain afterward that Ms. Merkel had been condescending toward the new president.
European Leaders Are Talking of a Post-American World Order
For Ms. Merkel and many other Germans, something elemental has changed across the Atlantic. “We Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands,” she said in May. “The times in which we can fully count on others — they are somewhat over.”
Trump’s Foreign Policy is Driven By Domestic Policy and He Often “Gives More Than He Gets”
But critics say Mr. Trump gives more than he gets. By backing the 32-year-old crown prince so wholeheartedly, the president cemented his status as heir to the House of Saud. The crown prince has since jailed his rivals as Saudi Arabia pursued a deadly intervention in Yemen’s civil war. . . . Mr. Trump granted an enormous concession to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he announced this month that the United States would formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. But he did not ask anything of Mr. Netanyahu in return.
That showed another hallmark of Mr. Trump’s foreign policy: how much it is driven by domestic politics. In this case, he was fulfilling a campaign promise to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. While evangelicals and some hard-line, pro-Israel American Jews exulted, the Palestinians seethed — leaving Mr. Trump’s dreams of brokering a peace accord between them and the Israelis in tatters.
Trump is Merely Following Obama’s Blueprint for Eradicating ISIS