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The first month of President Donald J Trump’s administration has been as tumultuous as any in US domestic politics. Headlines have concentrated on the immigration ban, on British Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit, Trump’s subsequent affirmation of his country’s support for NATO, and various controversial aspects of Trump’s diplomacy with Mexico, Australia and Russia. As many have noted, the real question on his foreign policy has been to separate Trump the election campaigner and Trump the president. The fact he continues to view himself as outside the ‘Washington establishment’ means that he relishes unorthodox policies and unorthodox ways of communicating them. His brusque telephone calls with some world leaders, his continued reliance on Twitter and the seemingly amateur nature of his communications team have served to muddle the line of what is likely to be one of the US’s most epoch-changing presidents.
These two books – Daniel Quinn Mills and Steven Rosefielde’s The Trump Phenomenon and the Future of US Foreign Policy and Peter Navarro’s Crouching Tiger: What China’s Militarism Means for the World – provide crucial insights on this question. While Navarro’s work was published two years ago, this is more than made up for by the fact that he is a close associate of the president and has been selected to head the newly formed National Trade Council. Taken together, the two books provide a useful framework for understanding the new administration’s domestic drivers and its foreign policy approach in Asia.
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