Why Trump's foreign policy is beginning its 'third phase'

Donald Trump.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Defense Secretary James Mattis' departure doesn't just sum up the major opposition to President Trump's withdrawal from Syria. It also represents a whole new "phase" in Trump's foreign policy, The Atlantic Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Goldberg says in an analysis published Friday.

After Trump declared ISIS defeated in Syria and moved to immediately withdraw from the country, Mattis submitted a resignation letter with no kind words for the president. Mattis was one of Trump's longest-standing senior officials in a tumultuous White House and had led the Pentagon through two distinct "phases" of Trump's foreign policy, Goldberg outlines in the paragraph below.

Mattis' departure also means that the United States is entering the third phase of Trump’s foreign policy. In the first year of his presidency, Trump paid attention mainly to domestic issues, and did not afflict America’s diplomatic and national-security establishment with an undue number of his ignorant and damaging foreign-policy views. In the second year, he became more destructively engaged, but he listened, on occasion, to those in his administration who possessed actual expertise in foreign policy. We are now entering the third year of his presidency, and third phase of his foreign policy: Trump alone, besieged, but believing, perhaps more than ever, in the inerrancy of his beliefs. [The Atlantic]

While former President Barack Obama dismissed Mattis as head of U.S. Central Command three years ago, he held on because he "understood ... Trump's intellectual, ideological, and characterological defects," Goldberg says. Without Mattis' guidance, "the dangerous part begins," he adds. Read Goldberg's insightful anaylsis in full at The Atlantic.

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