For the first time in its half-century existence, Foreign Policy made a presidential endorsement and it didn't go to Donald J. Trump. With that in mind, here are some thoughts from a number of its columnists.
James Traub writes:
I can’t help feeling that America has committed the most calamitous mistake of my lifetime. There will be a time to be reasonable and to think what one what must do to prevent Donald J. Trump from inflicting terrible damage to the United States and to the world. But this is a moment for the rending of garments.
I have spent much of the last year writing about the challenge to the liberal order in Europe. I did not think that what happened in Poland and Hungary could happen here. When, last spring, I asked Lech Walesa how Poland could have elected the reactionary nationalist Law and Justice party, he said, “What about the United States? You’ve got Donald Trump?” Yes, I said, but Trump won’t win. He grinned and said something. My translator turned to me and said, “Mr. Walesa says that he is sure Donald Trump has something up his sleeve.” Mr. Walesa was right.
John Hudson and Colum Lynch take a look at the frontrunners to serve as Trump's foreign policy cabinet. For what it's worth, they're all full-bore, red meat neo-conservatives. So much for Trump supporters who insisted that wasn't the direction he would take the United States. Guess who's in the running? Forrest Lucas, of Lucas Oil fame, for interior secretary. Goldman Sachs alumni Steven Mnuchin for treasury secretary. Newt Gingrich as a possible secretary of state. Jefferson Beauregard "Jeff" Sessions for defense secretary. Retired general Mike Flynn for CIA director. Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani seem to be in line for attorney general.
Boot sees a single ray of hope - and it comes from Trump's incoherence.
In truth, although I have been warning — along with many others — of the catastrophic consequences of a Trump presidency, I have no idea what he will actually do. Nobody does, probably including Trump himself. If there is any optimism to be gleaned on this day after, it lies in the very fact that Trump has been so utterly incoherent on just about every policy issue.
James Palmer writes that China is looking forward to a president who offers less resistance and more hypocrisy but warns that's a double-edged sword for Beijing.
There are four major victories for the Chinese leadership here, tempered by one possible fear. The first victory is the obvious one, the geopolitical victory; China no longer faces the prospect of Hillary Clinton, a tough, experienced opponent with a record of standing up to bullies. Instead, it faces a know-nothing reality TV star who barely seems aware that China has nuclear weapons, has promised to extort money from U.S. allies around China like South Korea and Japan, and has repeatedly undercut U.S. credibility as a defense partner. Trump is also exactly the kind of businessman who is most easily taken in by China — credulous, focused on the externalities of wealth, and massively susceptible to flattery. A single trip, with Chinese laying on the charm, could leave him as fond of China’s strongmen as he is of Russia’s Putin.
Trump's third gift to China will be on the contentious issue of human rights.
But China also is under the threat of Trumpian protectionism.
As for Putin, Reid Standish writes there are great opportunities for Moscow provided it lays low for a while and does nothing to inflame Congress.
Throughout the election cycle, Trump made improved cooperation with Moscow a tenet of his campaign and a consistent policy position. The Republican president-elect toutedthat he will “get along very well” with Putin and showered praise on the Russian leader, calling him a “better leader than Obama.” Other campaign comments indicate that his administration would be willing to roll back Washington’s current support for Ukraine, anti-Assad rebel groups in Syria, and even NATO members — which Trump has criticized for failing to pay their fair share of the costs for their security in Europe. These changes, according to Trump, would be justified by the possibility of enlisting Moscow’s support in the wider fight against the Islamic State and radical Islamic terrorism around the world.
Robbie Gramer writes that Trump may scuttle mankind's last chance to respond to climate change.
U.S. leadership was “critical in making it this far,” he told Foreign Policy. Without that leadership, “the international climate process will still continue de jure, but de facto its progress will stall,” he warned.
The upshot of these opinions is that both China and Russia will be emboldened and quick to exploit the opportunities Trump probably won't even understand that he's creating. A loss of confidence among America's traditional allies in Europe and Asia may see them pursuing their best interests in ways not coterminous with Washington's.
Nuclear proliferation in Japan and South Korea in the face of a shift in spheres of influence between China, ascendant, and America, in retreat. What could possibly go wrong with that?
Europe at least partly estranged from the United States at the same time drawing nearer to an accommodation with Moscow.
Trump is sowing his own minefield.