Susan B Glasser writes: Forget America First or the new nationalism or any of the other isms that have been offered as explanations for Donald Trump’s emerging foreign policy.
Want to really understand Trump’s philosophy of international relations?
Just listen to Sebastian Gorka, the Breitbart propagandist and Hungarian ultranationalist turned White House national security aide. He’s been saying it loud and clear for a couple months now whenever he’s asked about Trump’s foreign policy and how the new president will shake things up globally: “The alpha males are back.”
“Our foreign policy has been a disaster,” Gorka told Fox’s Sean Hannity before the inauguration. “We’ve neglected and abandoned our allies. We’ve emboldened our enemies. The message I have — it’s a very simple one. It’s a bumper sticker, Sean: The era of the Pajama Boy is over January 20th, and the alpha males are back.”
He’s repeated the phrase several times since, and it strikes me as perhaps unintentionally helpful in trying to sort through Trump’s largely unformed and at times outright contradictory foreign policy views. [Continue reading…]
Politico reports: Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis wants to tap the former U.S. ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson, as his undersecretary of defense for policy, but the Pentagon chief is running into resistance from White House officials, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation.
If nominated and confirmed, Patterson would hold the fourth most powerful position at the Pentagon – and would effectively be the top civilian in the Defense Department, since both Mattis and his deputy, Robert Work, were military officers.
As ambassador to Egypt between 2011 and 2013, Patterson worked closely with former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and his Islamist government. She came under fire for cultivating too close a relationship with the regime and for discouraging protests against it—and White House officials are voicing concerns about those decisions now.
The skirmish surrounding Patterson’s nomination is the latest in a series of personnel battles that have played out between Mattis and the White House, with each side rejecting the names offered up by the other while the Pentagon remains empty. The White House has yet to nominate a single undersecretary or deputy secretary to the Defense Department, while Work, Mattis’s deputy, is an Obama administration holdover who only agreed to stay on until the secretary taps a deputy of his own.
A similar tug of war has played out between the White House and other agency chiefs, most notably Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whom the president denied his top choice for deputy secretary of state last month. [Continue reading…]