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Hal Brands

America's Leaderless Foreign Policy Has Hit a Dead End

Attempts to steer the U.S. through global affairs by ignoring Trump have failed.
To big to ignore.

To big to ignore.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Independent counsel Robert Mueller has indicted 13 Russians for waging information warfare against the U.S. by tampering with the American electoral process in 2016. Sadly but predictably, America’s commander-in-chief did not respond by rallying his country to meet the threat. Rather, President Donald Trump went out of his way to dodge the question of Russian interference, while publicly attacking the officials and institutions that have had the temerity to confront that issue head-on.

Observers from both sides of the political spectrum, appropriately, deplored Trump’s abdication of his duty to defend the nation. Yet this episode also has a broader significance: It gives the lie to the idea that the U.S. can have a constructive foreign policy while a profoundly destructive individual is president.