Warren and Haley: Post-Trump Foreign Policies?

| December 2018
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One of the conclusions of the recently released report Misconnecting with the U.S. Public: Narrative Collapse and U.S. Foreign Policy is the need for U.S. political figures, particularly thinking toward a post-Trump administration, to develop

a narrative which acknowledges the recent mistakes that have led to skepticism on the part of the U.S. public towards American global engagement, but still sees benefits to reforming the system rather than withdrawing from it, could resonate with voters. This narrative would also need to provide a compelling assessment of what U.S. economic and security interests are as the United States prepares to enter the mid-21st-century.

Despite the assessments of some of the Washington, D.C.-based foreign policy community, there is going to be no “reset” in U.S. foreign policy to some sort of pre-Donald Trump standard. The 2016 campaign demonstrated the weaknesses in the post-Cold War bipartisan consensus to retain undivided support from the American populace.

Bernie Sanders began to articulate some outlines of a progressive/selective engagement/values promotion approach at his address at SAIS in October. Now, two more have stepped up to offer ways in which U.S. foreign policy might continue to evolve post-Trump as we enter the middle decades of the 21st century, both acknowledging some of the critiques made during the 2016 campaign: Senator Elizabeth Warren, with her vision of a foreign policy “that works for all Americans,” and departing UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, in her interview with The Atlantic. Warren’s criticisms of the Trump approach are more pointed, Haley’s more muted, but both recognize that there is no returning to a pre-Trump period or approach.

Warren seeks to meld a values approach (working with democratic partners overseas) with an emphasis on economic progress for Americans, with concurrent scaling back of the U.S. military posture around the world. Haley channels a traditional Republican approach defined by forward engagement, but recognizes that U.S. leadership in the international system must be seen as producing concrete benefits for U.S. citizens–with some acknowledgement of the value of the transactional approach.

These are, of course, first drafts–but they reflect the possibility that both among Republicans and Democrats, post-Trump foreign policy platforms will differ from their 2008 and 2012 stances, and may reflect the further erosion of the bipartisan consensus.

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