U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, center, Jared Kushner, left, and Jason Greenblatt listen as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks at the U.N. Security Council, New York, Feb. 20, 2018 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

The United Nations has weathered the first phase of the Trump era, starting out 2018 in better shape than seemed possible a year ago. But U.S. relations with the U.N. could take a sharp and sudden turn for the worse quite soon. President Donald Trump took office promising to slash the U.N.’s budget and rip up international agreements. But he has often shied away from delivering on his direst threats. His ambassador in New York, Nikki Haley, has shaved significant sums off U.N. budgets but avoided more severe cuts that would halt the organization’s operations. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has […]

A demonstrator checks his smart phone in front of pictures of U.S. President Donald Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Manila, Philippines, Nov. 14, 2017 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

More than a year into the Trump administration, it is obvious that the White House has little interest in using the bully pulpit or U.S. economic clout to promote democracy and human rights around the world. With a few exceptions, such as Venezuela, Iran, Cambodia and Cuba, the administration rarely speaks about human rights abuses in other countries. As president, Donald Trump has held meetings with autocratic leaders whom the Obama administration refused to invite to the White House, like Thai junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. Trump has also praised some foreign leaders’ abuses of the […]

President Donald Trump and other U.S. leaders walk down the steps of the Capitol building after a luncheon with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, second from right, Washington, March 15, 2018 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

For more than 70 years after World War II, U.S. foreign and national security policy followed a distinctive pattern. Despite many policy differences between Republicans and Democrats, there was also deep agreement about the overall goal and logic of U.S. strategy. Across the political spectrum, most political leaders and opinion-shapers believed that preserving the global order by cultivating and working with allies and partners was the best way to advance U.S. national interests. And they agreed that this should be done by a cadre of foreign and national security policy experts who moved in and out of government service, guided […]

U.S. President Donald Trump talks with reporters as he gets a briefing on border wall prototypes, San Diego, California, March 13, 2018 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

For the past 14 months, the refrain of President Donald Trump’s defenders within the U.S. foreign policy community has been to ignore what he says on Twitter and pay attention to what his administration is doing. It’s safe to say Rex Tillerson might have a word or two for them regarding the wisdom of that advice. In the latest stunning development to come out of Trump’s White House, Tillerson was unceremoniously axed as secretary of state, reportedly learning of the news via the president’s Twitter account upon his return from a weeklong tour of Africa. Trump’s explanation for the move, […]

South Korean national security director Chung Eui-yong speaks to reporters at the White House regarding an offer of a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Washington, March 8, 2018 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

This is an era of diplomatic bluster, bluff and buffering. The blusterers and bluffers get most of the attention. U.S. President Donald Trump is a master of the crude threat, encapsulated in his promise to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea. Yet such rhetoric is now the common currency of international affairs. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has lambasted Trump as a “dotard.” Russian President Vladimir Putin boasts about his country’s unstoppable nuclear missiles. Foreign policy analysts, once accustomed to parsing the careful phrases of former U.S. President Barack Obama, now spend days trying to distinguish between meaningless […]

President Donald Trump holds up a proclamation on steel and aluminum imports during an event at the White House, Washington, March 8, 2018 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an order imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The tariffs, which will go into effect in 15 days, exempt Canada and Mexico for now, with the possibility of other states to be exempted as well. Combined with the resignation earlier this week of Gary Cohn, the president’s chief economic adviser who had been seen as a check on Trump’s protectionist instincts during his tenure as director of the National Economic Council, they signal that Trump is ready to make good on campaign promises of getting tough on trade—and in particular with China. […]