One of the most startling revelations from the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump is just how recklessly his administration has been running America’s foreign policy. The new information—about a shadow foreign policy designed to pressure Ukraine to dig up dirt on the Bidens, in exchange for military assistance that was being withheld by the White House—hardly comes as a complete surprise, but it confirms the worst fears of many observers. The Ukraine debacle shows how the U.S. foreign policy apparatus, made up of career diplomats and other nonpartisan staffers, has been unable to prevent the president’s worst instincts from reshaping America’s actions abroad.
It’s long been obvious that Trump has little respect for the views of experts who have devoted their careers to understanding and navigating international issues, from election interference to nuclear proliferation. Since he took office, Trump has discarded painstakingly obtained intelligence, relying instead on what he sees on social media and on Fox News, often from conspiracy mongers. Trump has steadily lost the members of his administration who tried to guide him in a more coherent, fact-based direction, replacing them with loyalists. As the Ukraine scandal exposed, he has also increasingly relied on outsiders without foreign policy expertise, like his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
Is it any wonder, then, that three years into the Trump administration, just about every one of the president’s foreign policy initiatives is unraveling?