09 January 2020
The Trump Administration remains a puzzle and a challenge to many in countries in the Asia Pacific.
The ‘puzzle’ is to understand how a very untypical and inexperienced American President will use America’s considerable power to shape global strategic events. The ‘challenge’ is to work out how best to engage the Administration.
We at ASPI don’t pretend to have a crystal ball when it comes to the future of the Trump Administration, but we can offer a diverse range of informed analysis about the President and about America’s evolving place on the global stage. Two key challenges for the Administration stand out: First will Trump and his team ‘normalise’ into a more easily recognizable Republican Presidency? Or will the President continue to shun more standard White House approaches to ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington DC? The jury is out on whether Trump will grow steadier in the job or continue to challenge convention. The second challenge for the Administration is the extent to which Trump will deliver on his campaign promises to de-link the United States from some of its key alliances around the world, and to reduce America’s military footprint in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere. Again, the signals are mixed. While Trump’s most senior administration officials continue to reassure allies, the strength and depth of America’s post-War commitments to allies continues to worry many analysts.
As Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told Parliament ‘our regional strategic environment is more uncertain than it’s been in 75 years.’ America’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific remains a vitalizing ingredient for stability. The analysis presented by ASPI’s many contributors offers deep insights and different but informed opinions into the strategic dilemmas facing the trump Administration, our region and the world.