Managing Hegemonic Decline, Retaining Influence in the Trump Era
Edited by Andrew T.H. Tan
Chapter 5: The Trump administration’s Asia-Pacific strategy—continuity or a dramatic break with the past?
The ascendancy of Donald J. Trump to the office of President of the United States has led many to speculate about the future of U.S. strategy toward the Asia-Pacific. As a candidate, Mr. Trump made a number of statements suggesting a dramatic break with past policies. However, upon assuming office and notwithstanding his immediate rejection of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, Trump appeared to favor a more traditional and internationalist approach to foreign policy, particularly with his appointments of James Mattis and Rex Tillerson to head the Defense and State Departments respectively. However, it would be a mistake to assume that President Trump’s attitude toward international relations will automatically align with that of previous administrations. As an unconventional political leader, Trump will likely bring both continuities and discontinuities in his approach to the Asia-Pacific and to the alliance relationships that the U.S. has maintained for more than six decades.
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