Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory

Photo by White House Communications Agency | Public Domain

The dominant theme in media commentary regarding President Trump’s foreign policy has been his unpredictability. While this carries relatively innocuous implications, as far as the women entangled in his sexual dalliances are concerned, the double-dutch policy towards the recently concluded summit with North Korea has the potential to ignite a serious violent conflict among major powers. In an article trying to ascertain Russian attitudes on the matter, the Christian Science Monitor reported that “trying to read the intentions of the Trump White House has become an exercise for Russian foreign-policy experts that makes old-fashioned Kremlinology look like an exact science by comparison.”

While it may damage the sense of importance of the grand old figures of IR (International Relations) theory and geopolitics, the current era of U.S. foreign policy is guided merely by the egotism of, perhaps, three people, and not by scrupulous maneuverings on the global chessboard. The preceding 10 years of interaction with rival states has hobbled towards this moment; hindsight reveals an increasing readiness on the part of the executive to sideline the advice of his most knowledgeable advisors and confidants on key matters of U.S. power. Add to his predecessor’s support for infamously elusive “moderate” rebel groups in Syria, Trump’s scrapping of the Iranian nuclear deal, his contemptuous withdrawal from…

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