Within his article “Pull Back,” Barry Posen explores the goals of the United States’ current global policy. According to him, the United States is influenced by the desire to maintain American primacy. He states, “Republicans and Democrats may quibble over foreign policy at the margins, but they agree on the big picture: that the United States should dominate the world militarily, economically, and politically, as it has since the final years of the Cold War…” (Posen 1). The bipartisan support for the recent bombing of Syria reflects this shared sentiment.
Despite running on an “America First” platform, the Trump administration has demonstrated that like the administrations before them, Trump’s team will utilize a “militarized and forward-leaning foreign policy” (Posen 2). Early April 2017, President Donald Trump authorized missile strikes against the Syrian government in response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s usage of chemical weapons against the Syrian people. The bombing demonstrated American strength and the willingness of the United States to involve itself in foreign affairs. What does this mean? The United States, as an international actor, is motivated by its own interests: national power. The Syrian bombing acted as a stage for a show of the United States’ military might. As stated by Posen, America’s hegemonic culture – its desire to be the best – is costly. And detrimental. Posen cites that 180,000 American troops remained stationed outside of the United States (Posen 1). He, also, states that the United States continues to expand its military budget. Furthermore, he posits that this display of national power causes the United States to make many, formidable enemies.
The Russian government promptly condemned the attack on Syria. Similarly, China has expressed displeasure towards the event. Within his article, Posen alludes that the threat posed by the United States “has driven unnatural partners to cooperate” (2). As Posen concludes, the United States’ current foreign policy strategy is ultimately harmful to American interests by isolating the United States from strong, potential allies (see: China). Moving forward, foreign policy under the Trump administration would benefit from a more “restrained” strategy in which it will refrain from excessive and expensive military use.
(That being said, the precedent set within the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency are not promising.)