With the ascent to power of the neoconservatives in the Bush administration and following 9/11 the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, foreign-policy realists succeeded in promoting the virtues of the national interest — to the detriment of internationalism.
For some years, progressives, antiwar activists, and traditional conservatives have found common cause in opposition to interventionism.
In some ways, Donald Trump’s election is part of that trend.
For that reason, an academic such as John Mearsheimer who sees himself as being outside the foreign policy establishment, sees potential promise in a Trump presidency but he fears the power that remains entrenched in Washington, that has been referred to derisively as “the Blob” by President Obama’s close adviser, Ben Rhodes.
The foreign-policy community, which has deep roots and cuts across both of the major political parties, will go to enormous lengths to tame the new president and make sure he sticks with liberal hegemony.
Should it prevail, there will be more terrorism, more failed attempts to spread democracy, more lost wars, and more death and destruction across the greater Middle East.
But there’s a glaring problem with this analysis: it makes no mention of the fact that even before he takes office, it’s clear from his own campaign statements and from the first appointments he has made, that Donald Trump and his administration are Islamophobic to the core.
It’s not without reason that Trump’s election was instantly being celebrated by jihadists across the world.
“This guy is a complete maniac. His utter hate towards Muslims will make our job much easier because we can recruit thousands,” Abu Omar Khorasani, a top ISIS commander in Afghanistan, told Reuters.
Never since 9/11 must the United States have appeared as such an appealing target for terrorism.
Trump is a ticking time-bomb and it seems like just a matter of time before a terrorist plot, either executed or thwarted, sets him off.
And what happens then?
How is a president who gets triggered by a mild rebuke from the cast of Hamilton going to react to some barbaric act provocation?
Where will Trump’s famous counterpunch land? And how much or little will the president actually understand before he feels driven to take what he proudly brands as “decisive action”?
That’s what most of us have reason to fear and what the terrorists eagerly await, confident as they must be that Trump’s overreaction will have the potential to cause even more harm than Bush and Cheney’s overreaction to 9/11.
But to listen to Mearsheimer and some other realists, you’d think that we should be more concerned about the debatable influence of “the Blob” than we are about Trump’s reactivity.