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What the world has learned about Trump's foreign policy

Unpredictable president may yet revert to traditional ideas

| North America
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U.S. President Donald Trump (2ndR) sits with members of his cabinet, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (L); Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (2ndL) during a bilateral meeting with China's President Xi Jinping.   © Reuters

Many expected the insurgent presidency of Donald Trump to be accompanied by a revolutionary foreign policy that broke with the record of American internationalism since 1945. On the campaign trail and in his inaugural address, Trump promised an "America First" doctrine that distanced Washington from its traditional allies, treated trade as a weapon of statecraft, and stepped back from a global stewardship role.

But the world looks different from the Oval Office, and governance imposes compelling imperatives on the commander-in-chief of a superpower. Early tests on North Korea, Syria, China, and Russia suggest that a president who relishes unpredictability may yet revert to some traditional tenets of American foreign policy and regain strategic initiative after years in which his predecessor relinquished it to others.

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