Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Policy

America's New President Is Not a Rational Actor

| Jan. 25, 2017

Whether by accident or design, Donald Trump is isolating himself and erratically unraveling the world order.

A lot of people have been appalled by Donald Trump's behavior during the transition, at his inauguration, and in his first week in office. You can count me among them. But I also find his actions baffling from the perspective of Trump's own self-interest. People who opposed his administration’s policies should take heart, because his conduct so far will make it harder to proceed as he seems to want.

For starters, Trump made zero effort to exploit the honeymoon period traditionally accorded a new president by the press, didn't try to drive a wedge or two in the large coalition that opposes him, and declined to appeal to a broader sense of national unity. Thus far he has played entirely to his base, painting a dark portrait of a crumbling America where everybody except Trump himself is untrustworthy, corrupt, deceitful, and not to be heeded at all. The result: a president who lost the popular vote by 2.5 million people is even less popular now, and he enters office with the lowest approval ratings of any new president in history....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Walt, Stephen M.“America's New President Is Not a Rational Actor.” Foreign Policy, January 25, 2017.

The Author

Stephen Walt