Tom Watts | International Affairs
At the core of Donald Trump’s pledge to ‘make America great again’ was the promise of change, including a significant recalibration of American foreign policy. Since his inauguration, the scholarly debate on change and continuity in American foreign policy has crystallized into two broad camps. Many have argued that Trump has diverged from the governing principles of postwar American foreign policy by undermining the liberal international order. While acknowledging the idiosyncrasies of his discourse and presidential style, others have argued that the substance and policies of his presidency have been fairly ‘ordinary’ (see, for example, Jon Herbert, Trevor McCrisken and Andrew Wroe, The ordinary presidency of Donald J. Trump, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019). The two books under review fall down on different sides of this debate. Taken together, they speak to the larger issue of how to account for the effect of unexpected events and presidents on the one hand and the historically contingent practices and structures of American foreign policy, on the other.