Domestically and internationally, President Trump finished 2017 in dramatic fashion. Obtaining the most sweeping tax cuts in 30-plus years (and repealing ObamaCare’s most philosophically oppressive aspect, the individual mandate) was a landmark achievement. And, by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, then suggesting major changes in U.S. funding of the United Nations, he disrupted foreign-policy conventional wisdom on both the Middle East and “global governance.”
The administration’s national security strategy, published this month, centered its foreign policy in the conservative mainstream, but there is little time for complacency. On Inauguration Day, the president inherited acute dangers and longer-range strategic challenges, ignored or mishandled for years. While Trump has emphasized his intention to reverse course, the national security agencies have a mixed record in actually following his lead. Events in 2018 could well determine whether America resumes control of its international fate, or whether it continues to be buffeted by threats it could overcome but chooses not to.
In this article today, we review the administration’s 2017 record and 2018 prospects in three critical near-term areas: Middle East turmoil, international terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Tomorrow, we consider the longer-term risks posed by China and Russia, and the overarching issue of U.S. sovereignty.